May 15th 1928: Mickey Mouse debuts

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The first Mickey Mouse cartoon

 

On this day in 1928, the iconic Disney character Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in the cartoon ‘Plane Crazy’. The character was developed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and was inspired by Disney’s childhood pet mouse. Mickey Mouse and his girlfriend Minnie were first seen in a test screening on this day in 1928. However, the character was not popular, and it was not until November 1928 that a Mickey Mouse cartoon was released and widely distributed with ‘Steamboat Willie’, which is considered Mickey’s official debut. The character’s popularity steadily increased and became the mascot of the hugely successful Walt Disney Company.

 

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‘Steamboat Willie’ – Mickey’s first big success

 

“I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse”
– Walt Disney, 1954

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Walt Disney and his iconic character

April 16th 1889: Charlie Chaplin born

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Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977) pictured as ‘The Tramp’

 

On this day in 1889 the famous silent film star Charlie Chaplin was born in London. Chaplin came from a musical family, but his family fell on hard times and he spent his childhood on the streets of London. This hardship did nothing to abate the young Chaplin’s aspiration to be an actor. He began to secure roles on stage, securing a reputation as a fine comic actor. Chaplin moved to the United States in 1913 to embark on a promising film career. Soon after arriving he established the character that would make him famous: ‘the Tramp’. The character, a bumbling vagrant, featured in over 10 of Chaplin’s films.

 

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Chaplin with ‘the Tramp’ merchandise around 1918

 

This role threw Charlie Chaplin to international prominence, and he soon earned a huge salary of $670,000 a year – a vast amount even now; he had come a long way from his poverty-stricken youth in London. He continued to star in films, notably ‘The Great Dictator’ in 1940 which parodied Adolf Hitler.

 

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Charlie Chaplin as Adolf Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator’

 

Chaplin’s popularity waned as he faced controversy in the United States when he was accused of being a communist. However he enjoyed a renewed appreciation by the 1970s, winning an honorary Oscar in 1972. Chaplin died in 1977 aged 88 in Switzerland, where he had moved in the early 1950s after being banned from the States.