What Came Before Mickey Mouse: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

Mickey Mouse's creation was influenced by the loss of another character

By Andrew Wine
|  Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012  |  Updated 11:03 AM PDT
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What Came Before Mickey Mouse: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

The Walt Disney Co. / AP

What came first, the rabbit or the mouse?

The Walt Disney Company Archives has revealed images of their founder's first creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, for its 85th anniversary.  Oswald preceded Mickey Mouse, one of the most iconic animated figures of all time.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was featured in 26 different cartoon strips in the 1920’s and 30’s for Universal, their first cartoon series, Yahoo reported.

There are some differences between Oswald and Mickey, but the similarities are striking. Both share wide white eyes, red shorts and big black ears.

Oswald The Lucky Rabbit has followed an interesting path over the past 85 years. In a contract dispute with his partner at Universal on the east coast, Walt Disney lost the rights to Oswald, which contributed to the creation of Mickey Mouse.

“On the way back on the train back to Hollywood, Walt was sending telegrams to his brother and came up with the idea Mickey Mouse” Disney Archives Director Becky Cline told Yahoo. "It was a hard break for Walt. He was truly devastated"

Oswald came home to Disney in 2006 when the company's CEO, Bob Iger, “traded” sportscaster Al Michaels to NBC Sports – part of Universal - for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit during amicable contract negotiations.

“We want Oswald back” Yahoo reported Iger said at the time. Oswald had reportedly been sitting in Universal's vault "gathering dust."

Disney unearthed the original images of Oswald and other relics of the older days as a part of an event for “D23,” the Disney fan club.

Selected ReadingYahoo, D23
 

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