It was the Roaring ’20s. Calvin Coolidge was in the White House, the New York Yankees had just won their third World Series title and Mickey Mouse made his debut on the silver screen.
On Sunday, Mickey Mouse, the brainchild of cartoonist Walt Disney that eventually came to symbolise a global entertainment empire, celebrates his 90th birthday.
The iconic rodent, whose easily recognisable silhouette consists simply of a big circle and two little ones for ears, launched his celluloid career in Steamboat Willie, at New York’s Colony Theatre on November 18, 1928.
In the eight-minute, black-and-white cartoon, Mickey pilots a steamboat and entertains his passenger, Minnie Mouse, by making musical instruments out of the menagerie on board, according to IMDB.com.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) November 17, 2018
Mickey Mouse, whom Disney calls its global ambassador, also starred in Disney’s critically acclaimed 1942 animated film Fantasia, and would go on to launch a franchise with The Mickey Mouse Club, the 1950s television series that was a favourite of American baby boom kids.
His image appeared on T-shirts, lunch boxes and watches, and the telltale mouse ears are still worn by kids visiting Disney theme parks today.
To mark his birthday, Disney opened a 1486-square-metre art exhibition in Manhattan, called Mickey: The True Original Exhibition, featuring original art, larger-than-life photo ops and, of course, commemorative merchandise. The exhibition runs until February 10.
After all, reaching one’s 90th birthday is a milestone for anyone, but especially for a mouse, which the pest control company Teminix estimates has a normal lifespan of no more than three years.