One of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time, Minnie Mouse, will celebrate her 93rd “birthday” on November 18th.
The Debut of Minnie Mouse
Minnie Mouse is famous as the longtime girlfriend of Mickey Mouse. She made her public debut alongside him in the short film, Steamboat Willie. The cartoon was released at the Colony Theater in New York on November 18, 1928, which is now referenced as the birthday of both Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Despite her feminine onscreen presence, for the first few years of her existence, Minnie was often voiced by Walt Disney himself. But in the early 1930s, she found her first regular voice actress, Disney artist, Marcellite Garner. About six months after Garner began working for the company as an artist, the studio started casting for the film The Cactus Kid, in which Minnie speaks Spanish.
The casting director asked the entire Ink and Paint department whether any of them spoke Spanish and just two women, including Garner, responded. However, since the other woman was unwilling to sing, Garner was cast for the role in The Cactus Kid. She went on to voice Minnie Mouse in over 40 films over the next decade and is largely credited with defining her personality.
After Marcellite Garner left The Walt Disney Company in the early 1940s, the presence of Minnie Mouse steadily declined. She would occasionally appear in cartoons as a supporting character, or Mickey’s love interest, but wasn’t given storylines of her own. Her last appearance in the original theatrical run of Disney animated shorts was a brief cameo at the end of the 1952 short, Pluto’s Christmas Tree. For the next several decades, Minnie Mouse was rarely seen on screen.
But in 1986, there was a major push to revive the character. It was declared “Minnie’s year” at the Disney theme parks and a new television special, Totally Minnie, was put into production. Over 200 people auditioned for the titular role, but the part ultimately went to Russi Taylor. She went on to voice the character for decades until her death in 2019. A few of the iconic projects in which she appeared as Minnie Mouse include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and House of Mouse.
Fittingly for the company that specializes in fairy tales, Russi Taylor developed quite a bond with her on-screen partner. When she took on the role, she was introduced to Wayne Allwine, who had been the voice of Mickey Mouse since 1977. Their chemistry extended off-screen as well, and the two were married in 1991. They both remained in their roles as Mickey and Minnie Mouse until each of their passings.
A Day In The Life of Minnie Mouse
Minnie Mouse is the only female member of the “Fab Five,” a group of classic Disney characters that also includes Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, and Goofy. She hasn’t received quite as much of a backstory as some of the other characters, but there have been occasional references to her life beyond Mickey. In the 1930 comic strip story, Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers, audiences are introduced to her father Marcus Mouse, and her unnamed mother, who are both farmers.
She’s also been given several pets throughout her storylines. In fact, Pluto was Minnie’s dog first. In the 1930 short, The Picnic, she introduces her dog, Rover, to Mickey. Rover was later renamed “Pluto” and became Mickey’s dog in The Moose Hunt (1931). Minnie was given another dog, Fifi, in the 1933 cartoon Puppy Love. But she’s not just a fan of dogs. The 1940 film Pinocchio included the popular character Figaro the cat. Walt Disney himself was a huge fan of Figaro, so he decided to make Figaro Minnie’s new pet to allow him to be included in future projects.
Despite her dip in popularity in the mid-20th century, the legacy of Minnie Mouse has definitely rebounded. In 2018, she became the 17th fictional character to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was the eighth Disney-owned character to earn a star, following Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Donald Duck, Kermit the Frog, Winnie the Pooh, Tinker Bell, and The Muppets.
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