Mickey Mouse Cartoon Chronology

Week 36 Dataset and Historical Background

Posted by David Velleca on November 5, 2018

Historical Background

“I hope we never lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.” Those are the words of Walt Disney. He's correct, but a bit modest - the mouse, Mickey mouse, not only kick started the Disney Dream, but actually saved it from being scrapped altogether. On the brink of failure, and with most of his staff of animators leaving, Walt was down to himself, his brother Roy and his key animator, Ub Iwerks. Struggling to stay afloat in 1928, Disney focused on developing a character that could pave a path forward.

After much work, Disney brought the idea of a mouse named Mortimer to his wife, Lillian. Though she liked the idea of the character, thankfully she suggested the name Mickey, and it stuck. After the first two Mickey Mouse cartoons failed to sell, Disney once again reinvented Mickey, creating the world's first synchronized sound cartoon, "Steamboat Willie." In a world where talkies, or feature films with synchronized speech, were still in their infancy, this ground breaking feature is one of the elements that set Disney's Mickey films ahead of the competition. Mickey's whistling in "Steamboat Willie" has become iconic - odds are you know the tune even if you don't think you do.

"Steamboat Willie" opened the doors to the development of countless other characters and series, setting the standard for animated films and pushing boundaries whenever possible. The image and silhouette of Mickey Mouse is immediately recognizable, not only in the United States, but around the world. He is a cultural icon that transcends culture, language and time.

As we approach the 90th anniversary of the release of "Steamboat Willie" on November 18, 2018, this dataset looks at the chronology of the Mickey Mouse films - originally released as "Sound Cartoons." Through Mickey, and beyond, Walt Disney was the master storyteller. What kind of stories can you tell with this data? Download the data and see what you can do. Create your viz and post your work to Tableau Public and Twitter with the hashtag #ThrowbackDataThursday, tagging @TThrowbackThurs. We'd really love to see what you can come up with!

Data Source

This week's dataset comes from Wikipedia. Please be sure to cite the source on your viz.