Quotes: Mickey Mouse
"I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I've ever known."
"For sheer power of the graphics, Mickey Mouse is rivaled only by the Coca-Cola trademark and the Swastika."
—Sculptor Ernest Trova
"Mickey speaks to that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-racked human being."
—Walt Disney, circa 1933
"The best reason for Mickey's popularity any of us have been able to come up with is the fact that Mickey is so simple and uncomplicated, so easy to understand, that you can't help liking him."
—Walt Disney, in an interview with the New York Times.
"The greatest historical figure in the development of American art."
—New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, praising the mouse.
"America's most original contribution to culture."
—Sergei Eisenstein, praising Mickey.
"The most significant figure in graphic art since Leonardo Da Vinci."
"Like no other twentieth-century motion-picture character except Chaplin (on whom some say the mouse was modeled), Mickey possessed the world's imagination. He, too, was a creature of many masks, expressing what we all like to think are the best traits of our humanity: sweet sentiment, unfeigned pleasure, saucy impudence. Mickey was all heart, but in the beginning he did not wear it on his sleeve. At first he was very much a rodent. His limbs were thinner and his features smaller than the later, anthropomorphic version. In "Plane Crazy" (1928), his first [produced] film, made as a silent, then released with sound after Steamboat Willie, he went barefoot and barehanded, but by Steamboat Willie (1928) he wore shoes and soon acquired white four-fingered gloves. He was un-self conscious and egocentric, wearing the same confident, self-satisfied grin Edward G. Robinson was to flash a couple of years later as the immigrant gangster Rico in Little Caesar (1930). Unlike Rico, however, Mickey had no end. Success eroded him in other ways. "Mickey's our problem child," Disney said later, "He's so much of an institution that we're limited in what we can do with him." He became respectable, bland, gentle, responsible, moral. Donald Duck was added to the Disney cast to provide the old vinegar and bile."
"As an 'actor', the early Mickey's expressive range was as limited as his black and white coloring: There was a 'happy' Mickey and a 'not-so-happy' Mickey. He had a personality because he could think and solve problems, but he was a character whose emotive reactions were of the broadest, most rudimentary sort and quite unconvincing."
—Historian and animator John Canemaker on Mickey.
"...the symbolic meaning of Mickey's figure is obvious. Symbolically, we should have to call it a phallus but a desexualized one. Mickey's actions and adventures demonstrate his lack of genital interest. His audience feels that, and although he remains a mouse and a phallus, he does not stir up wishes which have to be suppressed and consequently he does not rouse anxiety."
—Fritz Moellenfoff's Freudian theory about the mouse's design.
"Mickey's vagueness as a character became an asset — a source of his popularity. However difficult he might be to describe, he was undeniably an active, positive character, and this was very important at a time when the world was sliding into the worst days of the Great Depression. Audiences could read into him an optimistic affirmation of their own values."
—Animation and Comic Historian Micheal Barrier on Mickey.
"Mickey had traveled, it seemed, light years away from the crudely drawn, rat-like barnyard sadist he had been, to the tremendously appealing, versatile and subtle performer he became."
"He was holier than a horse opera hero, goody-goodier than any cartoon character has a right to be, he never dared to set a bad example by so much as flying off the handle in a situation where anybody but a Saint would've blown his top. He turned into this paragon of virtue under pressure from the nearly 500,000,000 fans who, one year during the zenith of his fame, paid for their tickets and stampeded theater ushers to get seats to see their idol. It hasn't made Disney, or anybody else, for that matter, love Mickey any the less. But it has definitely put a limit to the number of situations you can get Mickey into in the course of a year without repeating yourself."
—James Conniff of The Marianist (1949)
"...the irrepressible Mickey in charmingly typical expression of his own psychology, which is based on the principle of the triumph of the boob, the cosmic victory of the underdog, the might of the meek, has in a very certain sense paid tribute to Mr. Chaplin by becoming his successor in certain considerable sectors of the world of the motion picture."
—Terry Ramsaye, Motion Picture Herald (1932)
"Mickey had to be simple. We had to push out seven hundred feet of film every two weeks. His head was a circle with an oblong circle for a snout. The ears were also circles so they could be drawn the same, no matter how he turned his head. his body was like a pear, and he had a long tail. His legs were pipestems, and we stuck them in large shoes to give him the look of a kid wearing his father's shoes. We didn't want him to have mouse hands, because he was supposed to be more human. So we gave him gloves. Five fingers seemed like too much on such a little figure, so we took away one. There was just one less finger to animate. To provide a little detail, we gave him the two-button pants. There was no mouse hair, or any other frills that would slow down animation."
"Mickey was Walt, and Walt was Mickey. Mickey reached his height in the days when Walt did the voice in that awful falsetto of his. When he started making feature films, Mickey declined.."
"Mickey is not a clown; he is neither silly nor dumb....He can be funny in a variety of situations....His first successes were hero roles, such as "Cactus Kid", "Gorilla Mystery", "Pioneer Days"....Other early successes showed him as an accomplished musician, dancer, etc., in "Opry House", "Shindig", "Birthday Party", etc....Later Mickey's audience value improved when he began getting into difficulties and accomplishing things under pressure, as in "Barnyard Broadcast"....Mickey can still be entertaining when things are running smoothly....Mickey is seldom funny in a chase picture, as his character and expressions are usually lost....He is at his best when he sets out to do anything with deadly determination despite annoyances and menace."
—Anonymous Disney storyman talking about Mickey, circa 1939.
"Mickey is the ultimate bland character. His appeal completely depends on how cute the individual artists can draw such simple shapes. He's made of circles and ovals and has no personality. He doesn't even have a distinct voice. It's just Walt in falsetto — which sounds exactly like anyone else doing a falsetto. He's very cute though and is a good character to train your youngest kids to understand cartoons with. He makes a good logo."
"All we ever intended for [Mickey] or expected of him was that he should continue to make people everywhere chuckle with him and at him. We didn't burden him with any social symbolism, we made him no mouthpiece for frustration or harsh satire. Mickey was simply a little personality assigned to the purposes of laughter."
—Walt Disney, circa 1948