Disney Anniversaries-94 years of Steamboat Willie

From the Walt Disney World News and written by: Sarah Cooley

Hey Main Streeters!

I’m back with another Disney anniversary for you. This time it is all about a little black and white gem of a film. Yes, we’re talking about Steamboat Willie.

We’ve all seen it, that iconic cartoon of Mickey Mouse whistling that famous tune, tapping his foot while steering the boat.

This film came out in November 1928 and was directed and written by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. Walts’ brother Roy O. Disney joined him to produce it. That means in 2022 this film is celebrating it’s 94th birthday. That’s some serious staying power!

Here are some things I learned when I researched it:

The title of the film was a parody of a Buster Keaton film called Steamboat Bill, Jr.

This is the film where Mickey Mouse debuted along with his girlfriend, Minnie Mouse. The story is that Mickey steers the steamboat down the river while he entertains his new passenger, Minnie Mouse by playing music.

It was one of the first cartoons that used synchronized sound. After a little research I learned that synchronized sound is sound that is recorded at the time of filing of the movie. That’s some pretty cool technology for the time. It definitely gave Disney’s competitors something to think about.

The music for this film was arranged by Wilfred Jackson and Bert Lewis.

Walt Disney himself gave his voice to all of the characters in the film.

This film has won lots of awards and gotten lots of critical acclaim.

In 1994, the animation field voted Steamboat Willie number 13 in the book The 50 Greatest Cartoons.

In 1998, it was selected to be preserved in the United States National Film registry. It was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Not too bad for a few minutes of magic!

I highly recommend you watch this film when you can. It is a delightful 7 minutes and 45 seconds for any Disney fan!

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