The Mouse That Roared

By Jeff Little

Walt Disney once said, "I love Mickey Mouse more than any woman I have ever known." And this quote came from a man who knew Annette Funicello. That's pretty impressive praise.

More impressive than Walt Disney's love of an animated mouse is the company that he and his brother Roy built; a company that came to be inextricably linked to the lovable rodent. And even though the phrase "Mickey Mouse Operation" now refers to a sub-par organization, The Walt Disney Company has become anything but.

Who in the United States hasn't heard of Disney?

Who in America hasn't owned at least one or more Disney-related products?

And who has never seen a Disney production of some sort?

The answer is, of course: The Amish...and few others.

Religious sects aside, there are few people in the world who haven't been exposed to Disney in some way. Walt and his alter ego (Mickey Mouse) have influenced us all over the years.

The company has had an impressive string of successes since 1928 when it released the first sound cartoon (Steamboat Willie) starring (you guessed it) Mickey Mouse. Since then, despite a few bumps in the road, Disney has extended its winning streak and become the iconic multi-billion dollar entity it is today.

Through its many years Walt's company has compiled an impressive list of achievements, but the 1950's seem to best represent the Disney magic as we know it today. (Ironic that a mouse would become one of the most imposing figures in show business, isn't it?)

In the 50's decade Disney had 4 of the top 10 films released in the United States. Sleeping Beauty (1959) was listed at #6, Cinderella (1950) was reported to be #3 in box office grosses, Peter Pan (1953) came in at #2 and the #1 film of the 1950's was Lady and the Tramp (1955).

It's interesting that Mickey Mouse is mostly black and white. He has been turning other studios green (with envy) for decades. And the 50's were no exception. Just some of Disney Studio's 1950's accomplishments read like a wish list for any entertainment conglomerate.

  • 1950 - 1959 - Wins 23 Oscars (Walt Disney holds the record as most  nominated person with 59.)

  • 1950 - NBC airs the television special One Hour in Wonderland which captures 90% of the viewing public.

  • 1954 - Present - Disney creates Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc. to distribute all features produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The company still exists and thrives today.

  • 1954 - Present - ABC airs Disneyland, a weekly TV program establishing a television presence that still exists today.

  • 1955 - 1959 - The Mickey Mouse Club airs 5 days a week.

  • 1955 - Present - Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California and still entertains millions of visitors a year.

The 50's were truly golden years for Disney. And today the ripples of that era still emanate from the achievements of Walt Disney (and his friend Mickey Mouse).

What a man! What a mouse!

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Walt Disney

Walt Disney

Sleeping Beauty (1959) was listed at #6, Cinderella (1950) was reported to be #3 in box office grosses, Peter Pan (1953) came in at #2 and the #1 film of the 1950's was Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Publicity art for Lady and the Tramp

Mickey Mouse Club

A familiar sight

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