Friday, November 10, 2023

Mickey's 50th Birthday Celebration!

Mickey Mouse is turning 95 this month!  Back in 1978, the little guy was turning 50, and there was a lot of hoopla about it.

The Fall 1978 issue of Disney News Magazine featured an article, about Mickey's milestone birthday.

Ub Iwerks was given credit in the article, as the co-creator of Mickey....or at least, for his and Walt's "combined talent."

The article mentioned "The Mickey Mouse 50th Birthday Parade," which was running at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

My dad took these next two pics of the parade, during a 1978 visit to Disneyland:

If we zoom in on the photo above, we can see part of a construction/refurbishment sign for the Matterhorn.  These pics were most likely taken prior to the attraction's May '78 reopening as, "The New Matterhorn."

That Disney News article also mentioned the birthday celebration ending on the weekend of November 18 & 19, with a special climax.  This pic from the book Disneyland: The First Quarter Century, was taken that very weekend.  I have a friend who was at the park that day, and he said that it was so miserably crowded, that there weren't any vacant benches available, to sit down and take a break.  He also shared a story with me, about how free pieces of birthday cake were being handed out to guests.  However, as he and his friend got near the cake, they noticed that there were some guys hanging around the cake, who kept spitting on it!  So, of course, they "passed" on the free cake!

Until just recently, I had never heard of the theatrical film, "Mickey's Birthday Party Show."  Apparently, it played in movie theaters as a feature-length compilation film.  Released on September 30, 1978, the film contained five classic cartoons starring Mickey and his friends (including Mickey's Birthday Party from 1942), as well as a special guest appearance by the New Mouseketeers. Also included, was the 1955 live-action feature Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

Here's the official trailer for the film:


On November 19, 1978, NBC was airing a special 90-minute version of The Wonderful World of Disney, in honor of Mickey's 50th.  I like the artwork in this TV Guide advertisement, which used the names of all the stars appearing on the show, to create the image of Mickey.

(I've attempted to list here, all of the stars who were appearing;  Anne Bancroft, Jonathan Winters, Jodie Foster, Bruce Jenner, Anne Murray, Dean Jones, Mickey Rooney, Raquel Welch, Elliot Gould, Annette Funicello, Doc Severinsen, U.S. Marine Corps Band, Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson, Alex Karras, Peter Strauss, Rev. Billy Graham, Jacqueline Bisset, R2-D2, Johnny Carson, Burt Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Charo, Kenny Rogers, Ruth Buzzi, Red Buttons, Sally Field, Helen Reddy, Gary Owens, Ken Berry, Helen Hayes, Susan Clark, Bob Hope, Goldie Hawn, Gerald Ford, Roy Rogers, Eva Gabor, Mel Brooks, Bette Davis, Steve Garvey, Lawrence Welk, Kermit The Frog, Elton John, Rich Little, Edward Asner, Jack Albertson, Roger Miller, Chewbacca, Ronnie Schell, Dyan Cannon, Adam Rich, Cheryl Ladd, Cantinflas, Gregory Peck, Dick Clark, James Stewart, Hans Conreid, Christopher Lee, Dale Evans, Henry Winkler, Shields & Yarnell (what, no Mummenschanz?), Dick Van Patten, International Children's Choir, Peter Sellers, Sterling Holloway, Jan-Michael Vincent, Shirley Jones, Barbara Walters, Willie Nelson & Band, Phyllis Diller, Jo Anne Worley, Carol Burnett, and Karen and Richard Carpenter.)

Four days later, on Thanksgiving Day, Mickey was making his annual appearance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Here is a color view of that same balloon, going down the parade route.

As for that special episode of The Wonderful World of Disney, I've searched for it on YouTube for years, and someone finally uploaded it, just a couple months ago!


To use a Lucy Ricardo quote, "Happy birthday, Mickey Mouse.....and I hope you live another 95 years!"

****** BONUS ITEM! ******

I thought I would include this birthday-themed Colorforms "Cartoon Kit" in the post, even though it is not specifically a "Mickey's 50th Birthday" item.  This originally belonged to my brother.  It's undated, but it was given to him in the early 1970s.

The board:

The pieces:

The instruction booklet:



K. Martinez said...

You dad's Disneyland photos and the Colorforms "Cartoon Kit" do it for me. Hard to believe Mickey Mouse will be 95 years old. Let's hope Mickey's 100th birthday celebration goes better than Disney's 100 celebration in which it was nothing but bad news for the company.

Enjoyed your post. Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Let's hope Mickey's 100th birthday celebration goes better than Disney's 100 celebration in which it was nothing but bad news for the company.

Ken, maybe in five years, Six Flags will own the U.S. Disney parks, so Mickey will also be able to celebrate his 100th birthday at Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, Kings Island, Cedar Point, etc., etc. ;-)

K. Martinez said...

And don't forget. Mickey will celebrate it with his new pals, Bart Simpson, Batman & Robin, Bugs Bunny and Snoopy. ;-)

Geek Goddess said...

The 80s..Sunday nights at 7pm..The Wonderful World of Disney and all the old classic movies. I feel like I am right there.

Stefano said...

Three cheers for the little fellow on his birthday. It is quite something that a rodent could become an internationally loved figure; L.B. Mayer at MGM passed on the chance to distribute Disney's cartoons, saying he didn't want pregnant women in the audience to be frightened by mice.

I remember this Disney News issue, there was also a piece on the finalized plans for EPCOT. In 1978 there was an article in New West magazine called "The Incredible Shrinking Dream", detailing just how far the final EPCOT plans strayed from Disney's original intention. The same issue also featured an interview with John Hench, with his perceptive take on the subconscious ways Disneyland affected people, for the better.

Still unanswered is what happens when copyrighted Mickey enters the public domain, which should be any year now. Consider what the company itself has offered: the MM short which played with "Frozen" is obnoxious, practically a desecration of the little guy. I think his finest hour was in "Fantasia", featuring the public domain music of Dukas.

TokyoMagic! said...

And don't forget. Mickey will celebrate it with his new pals, Bart Simpson, Batman & Robin, Bugs Bunny and Snoopy.

Oh, yeah! I can't wait!!!

TokyoMagic! said...

Geek Goddess, Sunday nights really were special for my brother and me, as we would wait for The Wonderful World of Disney to begin. I loved the opening segment so much, because they would show scenes from Disneyland! But the movies they would show were always good, too!

TokyoMagic! said...

Stefano, I did not know that factoid about L.B. Mayer passing on Mickey Mouse. I wonder if he ever regretted it? Just think, Mickey could have had "Property of MGM" tattooed on his backside, just like Joan Crawford! ;-)

Hasn't Disney been able to get a special extension on Mickey's copyright at least once already, if not twice? Have they finally reached their limit of "special extensions"? I imagine if/when Mickey becomes public domain, there will be tons of Mickey products of varying degrees of quality, coming out from all kinds of sources. And I agree with you about the "new" Mickey. I don't really care for him. Is that the only way that they can get the younger generations to watch a Mickey Mouse cartoon? Sad.

And I have that issue of "New West" magazine. My mom subscribed to that magazine at the time, and I have held onto that issue, ever since it came out. About five years ago, I posted all of the Disney-related articles from it, along with a few of the advertisements. That can be viewed here:

Major Pepperidge said...

I totally remember all of the hubbub about Mickey’s 50th - I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I was a die-hard Disney geek by that point. I think I have that “Disney News” issue, though it now occurs to me that I need to go through all of my DN issues and organize them.

I have no doubt that Ub Iwerks drew the first Mickey, and he should get all due credit, but Mickey was more than a cute drawing. Ub went on to found his own animation studio, and while it is historically interesting, his cartoons didn’t have the world-wide appeal of Disney’s. As you know, he eventually returned to Disney Studios, I’d love to have heard the conversation between Ub and Walt, since Walt was so famous for his fiery temper.

It’s funny about people wanting to be at the park for special events - as a rule, those are days that I would want to AVOID the park. For all the obvious reasons.

It seems weird to me that Davy Crockett would be included as part of Mickey’s birthday party. No knock against Davy, they just seem unrelated.

Look at that list of starts! Ruth Buzzi! Chewbacca! Dick Fan Patten! Red Buttons! Charo! And yet… NO SANDY DUNCAN??

I’m afraid to click on that “Mickey’s 50” TV special, those shows were so awful. I want to like them, but they are just too painful to watch.

Love that Colorforms kit! I had a Colorforms sets, but I think it was all geometric shapes. Kin of boring. Yours is unused, which is pretty cool.

Thanks, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I wonder if Walt made Ub grovel before letting him come back to the studio?

As for special events at the park, I've been on Disneyland's birthday quite a few times. The really busy days were the "special" birthdays, like the 30th, 40th, 50th, and 60th. And now, almost everyday is that crowded.

It seems weird to me that Davy Crockett would be included as part of Mickey’s birthday party. No knock against Davy, they just seem unrelated.

The studio kept it secret, but Davy and Mickey were actually second cousins.

Maybe Sandy Duncan knew better than to participate in those specials with a gazillion other "stars." She told them, "Either I get my very own special, or it's no dice!" Or maybe they refused to meet her demands of having her own dressing room, fully stocked with Wheat Thins.

That "Mickey's 50" special is mostly painful to watch, but I do recommend watching one segment that begins at the 49:45 mark. Unfortunately, they stop it with a "To Be Continued", but then it does continue at the 57:00 mark and runs during the final minutes of the show. The segment features some very cool stop motion photography, using mostly Mickey Mouse toys (vintage and then-current), along with the Main Street Electrical Parade's theme music. Again, it's pretty darn cool, and also unexpected for one of "those" specials.

That Mickey Mouse Colorforms set actually was played with, quite a bit. I guess my brother and I just took care of it and didn't lose any of the pieces!

Melissa said...

Whoa,check out Mickey literally jumping on Minnie in the opening of the WWoD video! I had forgotten about Colorforms; the only one I ever owned was a Raggedy Ann tea party set.

Andrew said...

Happy birthday Mickey! I needed that drawing of him in front of the EPCOT model in my life. So cool!

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, whoa...unwanted hugs and kisses! That reminds me of a certain former Disney executive! I knew a girl in elementary school, who had Raggedy Ann "everything." I wonder if she had that Colorforms set?

TokyoMagic! said...

Andrew, I really like that artwork, too! John Hench was the artist. I came across it online, when I was writing this post. I'm going to go find it, and then send it to you! Maybe I'll even add it to the post.

"Lou and Sue" said...

Wow - quite a celebration! When you read that list of stars, it's a bit depressing to think that so many of them are no longer with us. But those were definitely the "good old days," and it's fun to look back at all the festivities.

Mickey has such a sweet look, especially on the cover of the Disney News you posted, and on the cover of your Colorforms box.

Thank you for hosting Mickey's party, this year, and inviting us all, TokyoMagic!

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, it is sad when you realize how many of those stars are no longer around. The TV Guide ad stated "100 Superstars." I just counted how many are still with us, and only came up with 26! :-(

Thanks for commenting, Sue! And thanks again for giving this post a shout-out, over on GDB!