After losing the rights to his original animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney created a new character named Mortimer Mouse who was quickly renamed Mickey Mouse. Mickey first starred in two silent cartoons in 1928: Plane Crazy and Gallopin' Gaucho. However, Mickey's third animated appearance, in Steamboat Willie, released on November 18, 1928 had sound—and the rest is history.
Steamboat Willie propelled Mickey Mouse to stardom, becoming Walt Disney's most popular character and one of the most famous cartoon characters in the world. Initially he was drawn by Ub Iwerks with Walt himself providing Mickey's voice. By 1932 Walt Disney had received a special Oscar for the creation of Mickey Mouse.
Mickey would go on to star in more than one hundred shorts, appear in the 1940 movie Fantasia as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, and serve as the mascot of The Mickey Mouse Club, one of the most popular children's shows of 1950s. Mickey continues to be one of the most recognizable cartoon characters to this day, with his popularity never seeming to wane.
The two books above are just two examples from the Smithsonian American Art / National Portrait Gallery Library's pop up book collection featuring Mickey Mouse: Mickey Mouse and the Martian Mix Up and Mickey Mouse Waddle Book. Other libraries, including the Cooper Hewitt Library and the National Museum of American History Library also have material featuring this famous fellow.—Doug Litts