It all started with a mouse...
When you look at the massive empire that Disney has become, it's easy to forget that a humble seven-minute-long animated feature called "Steamboat Willie" is where it all began. It's been 92 years since Mickey and Minnie Mouse made their first appearance on screen, so we wanted to wish the world's favorite mice a happy birthday.
At the time of its release, Walt Disney was paid $500 a week as the short premiered at Universal's Colony Theater in New York City. The sum may seem paltry by today's standards—Disney did have seven films that grossed over $1 billion in 2019—but at the time it was a pretty hefty chunk of change.
"Steamboat Willie" was a smashing success, launching Disney and his famous mice to stardom. Nowadays we consider Mickey Mouse to be the poster child (or mouse) for wholesome entertainment, but he was a bit more rascally in the old days. In some versions of the animated film, censors have removed about 30 seconds of material because it featured "animal cruelty," including Mickey swinging a cat over his head by its tail, poking a sow like an accordion and squeezing a duck to make a bagpipe noise.
The success of "Steamboat Willie" not only led to a series of cartoons featuring Mickey, Minnie and a whole cast of friends including Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto, but it also set off one of the most impressive marketing campaigns in the history of the world. Disney didn't just put Mickey in cartoons, he put him on every possible commodity. Lunchboxes, watches, shirts, sweatshirts, toys... you name it and Mickey Mouse has had his likeness on it. You know those theme parks where people spend a year's salary to wait in line for a week? Yeah, they wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Mickey.
For decades, Mickey Mouse was the most recognizable form of American culture abroad. Using his name as a protest write-in vote has become such an institution that officials worry when they don't get any votes for Mickey Mouse.
This silly little mouse is ubiquitous in our culture, so it's only natural that there are a plethora of Mickey Mouse tattoos, as well as a ton of Minnie Mouse tattoos. They're the first couple of animated rodents, let's pay them their due and enjoy this gallery of tattoos. Happy 92nd birthday, you crazy kids.