Minnie Mouse is a funny animal cartoon character created by Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney. She and Mickey Mouse were first drawn by Iwerks in 1928. The comic strip story "The Gleam" (published January 19–May 2, 1942) by Merrill De Maris and Floyd Gottfredson first gave her full name as Minerva Mouse, although this is seldom used.
The comic strip story "Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers" (published September 22–December 26, 1930) introduced her father Marcus Mouse and her unnamed mother, both farmers. The same story featured photographs of Minnie's uncle Milton Mouse with his family and her grandparents Marshal Mouse and Matilda Mouse. Her best-known relatives, however, remain her uncle Mortimer Mouse and her twin nieces, Millie and Melody Mouse, though most often a single niece, Melody, appears. In many appearances, Minnie is presented as the girlfriend of Mickey Mouse, a close friend of Daisy Duck, and a friend to Clarabelle Cow.
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In 1928, Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Mickey Mouse to act as a replacement to his previous star Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. But Mickey could not fill the void alone. Among the few consistent character traits Oswald had developed before moving on to Universal Studios was his near-constant pursuit of potential sweethearts. So for Mickey to have a chance to emulate his predecessor at flirting, someone had to replace Oswald's many love interests. This replacement to Miss Rabbit, Miss Cottontail, Fanny and an uncertain number of unnamed nurses and dancers was to become Minnie Mouse.
Minnie was designed in the fashion of a "flapper" girl. Her main outfit consisted of a short flapper girl dress that often revealed her distinctive patched knickers. In the 1929 cartoon The Karnival Kid, it was also revealed that she wears black stockings which were also fashionable among flapper girls. Her shoes are probably her most distinctive article of clothing. For comedic effect, she wears oversized high heeled pumps that are too big for her feet. Her heels often slip out of her shoes, and she even loses her shoes completely in The Gallopin' Gaucho. When she walked or danced, the clip clop of her large pumps was usually heard clearly and often went with the rhythm of the music that was played in the background. Along with Mickey, she was redesigned in 1940. Her hat was replaced with a large bow, and bows were added to her shoes as well. Her eyes were also given more detail. Throughout the forties and fifties, her look and personality became more conservative. Minnie almost always wears red or pink, but in her early appearances, she could be seen wearing a combination of blue, black or green (when not depicted in black and white).
Minnie's early personality is cute, playful, musical and flirtatious. She often portrays an entertainer like a dancer or a musician that Mickey is trying to win the affection of. Part of the comedy of these early shorts is the varying degree of success Mickey has in wooing Minnie. Unlike later cartoons after the redesign, Minnie often becomes a damsel in distress that Mickey tries to rescue. She is also subject to a lot of slapstick and rubber hose animation gags. Over the course of the thirties, Minnie's and Mickey's relationship solidified and they eventually became a steady couple.
Minnie first appeared in Plane Crazy. Minnie is invited to join Mickey in the first flight of his aircraft. She accepts the invitation but not his request for a kiss in mid-flight. Mickey eventually forces Minnie into a kiss but this only results in her parachuting out of the plane. This first film depicted Minnie as somewhat resistant to the demanding affection of her potential boyfriend and capable of escaping his grasp.
Their debut, however, featured the couple already familiar to each other. The next film featuring them was The Gallopin' Gaucho. The film was the second of their series to be produced, but the third to be released, and was released on December 30, 1928. We find Minnie employed at the Cantina Argentina, a bar and restaurant established in the Pampas of Argentina. She performs the Tango for Mickey the gaucho and Black Pete the outlaw. Both flirt with her but the latter intends to abduct her while the former obliges in saving the Damsel in Distress from the villain. All three characters acted as strangers first being introduced to each other.
But it was their third cartoon that established the definitive early look and personality of both Mickey and Minnie, as well as Pete. Steamboat Willie, was the third short of the series to be produced but released first on November 18, 1928. Pete was featured as the Captain of the steamboat, Mickey as a crew of one and Minnie as their single passenger. The two anthropomorphic mice first star in a sound film and spend most of its duration playing music to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw".
Her next appearance was arguably more significant. Mickey's Follies (June 26, 1929), featured the first performance of the song "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo". "The guy they call little Mickey Mouse" for the first time addresses an audience to explain that he has "Got a sweetie" who is "Neither fat nor skinny" and proudly proclaims that "She's my little Minnie Mouse". Mickey then proceeds in explaining his reaction to Minnie's call. The song firmly establishes Mickey and Minnie as a couple and expresses the importance Minnie holds for her male partner.
Her final appearance for the year was in Wild Waves, carried by a wave into the sea. She panics and seems to start drowning. Mickey uses a row boat to rescue her and return her to the shore but Minnie is still visibly shaken from the experience. Mickey starts singing the tune of "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep,", a maritime ballad, in an apparent effort to cheer her up. Minnie cheers up and the short ends. This is the second time Minnie is placed in danger and then saved by her new boyfriend. It would not be the last.
In fact, this was the case with her next appearance in The Cactus Kid (April 12, 1930). As the title implies the short was intended as a Western movie parody, but it is considered to be more or less a remake of The Gallopin' Gaucho set in Mexico instead of Argentina. Minnie was again cast as the local tavern dancer who is abducted by Peg-Leg Pedro (Black Pete in his first appearance with a peg-leg). Mickey again comes to the rescue. The short is considered significant for being the last short featuring Mickey and Minnie to be animated by Ub Iwerks.
The Shindig (July 11, 1930) featured Minnie joining Mickey, Horace, and Clarabelle in a barn dance. Among them, Clarabelle seems to be the actual star of the short. Director Burt Gillett turned in another enjoyable entry in the series, proved that production could go on without Iwerks. This was arguably the first time Minnie was upstaged by a female co-star.
In The Fire Fighters (August 6, 1930) Minnie is trapped in a hotel during a fire. She spends the duration of the short in mortal peril but is rescued by firefighters under Chief Mickey Mouse. Horace Horsecollar is among the firefighters. An unnamed cow in the background is possibly Clarabelle making a cameo. The music of the short was, appropriately, the tune of "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight".
The next entry in the series is considered curious: The Gorilla Mystery (October 1, 1930). The short starts with Beppo the Gorilla escaping from a zoo. Mickey learns of it and panics. He phones Minnie to warn her about the dangerous gorilla wandering about. Minnie is unconcerned and plays tunes on her piano for Mickey to hear over the phone and know she is not afraid. Her tunes are interrupted by her scream and Mickey rushes to her house to save her. Meanwhile, Beppo has wrapped up Minnie in rope and holds her hostage. Mickey confronts the gorilla and once again rescues the damsel in distress. The short ends with Minnie and Mickey jointly wrapping up the gorilla in rope. Modern audiences have commented on elements of bondage apparent in the short and the mysterious motivation of Beppo. Note that the theme of kidnapping by a gorilla is present here three years prior to the King Kong film of 1933.
In The Picnic, (November 14, 1930) Minnie introduces her boyfriend to her new pet dog, Rover. This is actually Pluto making his first appearance as an individual character. Two unnamed bloodhound guard dogs strikingly similar to him had previously appeared in The Chain Gang (August 18, 1930) which featured Mickey incarcerated in prison without Minnie at his side. Otherwise the short features a typical picnic excursion harassed by forest animals and brought to a premature end by a sudden rain.
The final appearance of Minnie during the year was Pioneer Days (December 10, 1930). The short featured Minnie and her mate as pioneer settlers heading to the American Old West driving a covered wagon in a wagon train. They are unsurprisingly attacked by Native Americans on their way, a stock plot of Western movies at the time. While their fellows are either subjected to scalping or running for their lives, Minnie is captured by the attackers. Mickey attempts to rescue her only to be captured himself. In a reversal of their usual roles, Minnie escapes her captors and rescues her mate. They then dress as soldiers of the United States Army. Their mere appearance proves sufficient to have the entire tribe running for the hills. The Mouse couple stands triumphant at the end. The short has been criticized for its unflattering depiction of Native Americans as rather bestial predators. The finale has been edited out in recent viewings for depicting the "braves" submitting to cowardice.
During the second half of the thirties, Minnie did not appear as often in Mickey cartoons. This was mainly due to the growth in popularity of Mickey's new sidekicks, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Pluto, whose appearances in Mickey cartoons had more or less replaced Minnie's role. Minnie's appearances in Mickey cartoons thus became less numerous, but she did have a few major roles in some Pluto and Figaro cartoons during the 1940s. Minnie made a sort of comeback in the 1980s when she was re-introduced in Mickey's Christmas Carol and then got her own starring role in Totally Minnie.
In Mickey Mouse Works, she finally appeared in her own segments. Occasionally, she starred in Maestro Minnie shorts, in which she conducts an orchestra of living instruments that she usually has to tame.
In House of Mouse, Minnie is in charge of running the nightclub, while Mickey primarily serves as the host. In one episode of House of Mouse, "Clarabelle's Big Secret," Minnie reveals that she has gone to the movies with Mortimer Mouse, although it is not a date.
She appears in two children's television series on Playhouse Disney: the full-length educational Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the spin-off series of shorts Minnie's Bow-Toons where she runs a "bow-tique" selling bows like the ones she and Daisy wear. In season 2 of Bow-Toons, she displays high physical strength and balance at least twice, able to balance her entire bodyweight in a 1-finger handstand.
In the 2013 Mickey Mouse television series, she exhibits the ability to survive her head coming off and doing a 360 degree flip and re-attaching itself, which can happen when she feels surprised.
In 2017, as part of the launch of the new Mickey's Roadster Racers show, Minnie's Happy Helpers adventures will appear in the second half of every new episode.
She appears in the Kingdom Hearts game series as the queen of Disney Castle, with Mickey serving as the king and her husband. She, at the suggestion of a letter left by the missing King, sends Donald Duck and Goofy on their mission to find Mickey and the Keyblade Master, Sora. During Kingdom Hearts II, when Pete's tampering of the past causes the Heartless to appear in Disney Castle, Minnie is forced to fall back to the library to get to the bottom of it until Sora and company arrive. While Donald and Goofy head to get the other residents to safety, Sora serves as the Queen's bodyguard to get her to the Cornerstone where. During this time, Minnie shows powers as a sorceress of white magic, casting a holy light on the Heartless that attack as well as a powerful combination with Sora that unleashes a huge beam of light all around her. In the prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, she oversees the annually held Dream Festival in Disney Town, where Pete causes mischief until she banishes him to another dimension as punishment. She appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in a role mirroring that in the film Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, where she is referred to as Princess Minnie and rules a world called the Country of the Musketeers. By this, it is inferred that she, not Mickey, is the rightful ruler of Disney Castle, which is why he leaves her in charge.
In the 2004 direct-to-video movie Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Minnie plays the role of the princess of France, who continually daydreams about her true love, Mickey. She's also the only monarch getting in the way of the plans of Pete, who can't take over the kingdom if he cannot get rid of her. Interestingly, for this particular film, Minnie is drawn with hair bangs, which do not appear in any later cartoons.
In the "Disney on Ice" play Disney Presents Pixar's The Incredibles in a Magic Kingdom Adventure, Mickey and Minnie are both taken hostage by an android replica of Syndrome, who seeks to construct "his" own idea of The Happiest Place on Earth in Walt Disney World's place. They are briefly imprisoned in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction's prison cell before an assault on the robot Syndrome by the Incredible Family forces "him" to lock them up in laser prisons, but not without using a flamethrower in a botched attempt to incinerate their would-be superhuman saviors. After the robot Syndrome is congealed by Frozone, Mickey and Minnie are finally liberated, the Walt Disney World Resort is restored to its former glory, and the Incredibles become Mickey and Minnie's newest friends.
Minnie was first voiced by Walt Disney, who was also the original voice of Mickey Mouse. Marjorie Ralston, a Disney inker who joined the animation team as Disney's thirteenth employee, voiced her in the 1929 short "Wild Waves", but did not further pursue the role out of shyness. Then, from 1930 until 1939, she was voiced by Marcellite Garner. Then from 1941 to 1942, and on the radio program, The Mickey Mouse Theater of the Air, she was voiced by Thelma Boardman. Following this, from 1942 to 1952 Ruth Clifford provided the character's voice. Janet Waldo voiced Minnie in the 1974 Disneyland record album, An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Performed by The Walt Disney Players. Minnie Mouse would go without any spoken dialogue until 1986, when Russi Taylor inherited the role, which she continues to perform to this day (her late husband, Wayne Allwine, voiced Mickey from 1977 until his death in 2009).
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