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18 Vintage Mickey Mouse Photos That Will Take You Back

Arguably the most well-known animated character on the planet, Mickey Mouse is as recognizable (if not more so) than Santa Claus, and his name is the name most frequently scrawled in as a write-in candidate in American elections. Here's Mickey in some of his more iconic moments.

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mickey mouse

The history of Mickey

No matter your age, everyone has a fond memory of Mickey Mouse. Keep reading to become an expert on his life.

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Steamboat Mickey

Mickey’s film debut (ish)

Mickey Mouse, created by Walt Disney in 1928, was in several much-ignored short films that year before he finally hit it big in with the short, Steamboat Willie. The name was taken from an important film of the day, Steamboat Bill, Jr., which starred Buster Keaton and was inspired by the very first “talkie,” The Jazz Singer. Steamboat Willie was an important film in its own right; it was the very first cartoon with synchronized sound. It became an instant hit! How well do you know your Disney movie trivia? Take our quiz and find out.

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Mickey and Walt Disney

The Mouse who was almost a rabbit

Mickey Mouse, who is famous for his white gloves, only began wearing them in 1929, a year before this issue of Tatler came out with Mickey on the cover with his creator, Walt Disney. But what’s most remarkable about this photo is that it could just as easily have been Walt Disney with a rabbit named Oswald! That’s right, before Mickey Mouse, Disney created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit but lost the copyright. It’s no coincidence how much Mickey and Oswald look alike. Check out even more surprising facts about Disney’s most famous characters.

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Mickey, walt disney and the woman who named Mickey

Walt Disney and the woman who named Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney poses with his wife, Lillian, and Mickey Mouse, of course, on the roof of the Grosvenor House in London in 1935. Two different people have taken credit for giving Mickey Mouse his first name; it’s believed that Lillian came up with the name, “Mickey,” after Walt wanted to call him “Mortimer,” which Lillian felt was too “pompous.” While Mickey Rooney would have everyone believe the mouse was named for him, Walt took his wife’ side, and so, we’ll just have to go with that. Check out these 23 secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.

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Fantasia Mickey

Film still from 1940s Fantasia film

In 1897, the composer, Paul Dukas, debuted his musical composition The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. When Walt Disney heard it, he began playing with the idea of making an animated short by the same name. The idea blossomed into Mickey as the Apprentice in the 1940 film Fantasia. It was a pivotal role for Mickey, who got a complete makeover for it—becoming cuter, more expressive, and more akin to a human child (they did away with Mickey’s tail!).

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Gas mask mickey

Mickey Mouse gas mask

As World War II was brewing, so were fears of poisonous gas attacks. A sobering sign of the times in which they were living, Walt Disney was commissioned by the military to design a Mickey Mouse-themed gas mask. The idea was to make a gas mask that would be “user-friendly” among children. It was sold in the United States and in the United Kingdom. No matter the role, these are the etiquette rules all Disney employees must follow.

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Fun and Fancy Free mickey

Mickey and friends in Fun and Fancy Free

Fun and Fancy Free, which premiered in 1947, was iconic for several reasons. First, it was the last animated feature starring Walt Disney as the voice of Mickey Mouse. Second, it’s the only film ever to feature all four of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Jiminy Cricket.

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Mickey mouse club


The Mickey Mouse Club was created in 1930 as a fan club. In 1950, it became a beloved variety-show-style television series that launched the career of Annette Funicello and came back several times over the decades that followed. These 23 Disneyland facts will completely blow your mind.

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Mickey mouse club 2

The later version of the Club

When the Mickey Mouse Club returned to television in the 1990s, it starred Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Ryan Gosling, among others. If being on a show with Mickey Mouse didn’t launch the careers of these now major stars, it certainly gave them a leg up on their competition!

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Betty Ford and Mickey
Harvey Georges/AP/Shutterstock

Betty Ford and Mickey

In 1974, First Lady, Betty Ford, joined with Mickey Mouse to welcome children of the members of the Diplomatic Corps to the White House.

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Joan Jett and Mickey

Joan Jett and Mickey

By 1976, Mickey Mouse was rubbing elbows not only with politicians and their wives but also appearing on the t-shirts of rock stars. Here he’s shown with the love of his life, Minnie Mouse (who was born the same year as Mickey, in 1928), on a t-shirt worn by Joan Jett (of the Runaways and The Blackhearts). Don’t miss these surprisingly impressive words you can learn from Disney songs.

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Mickey hollywood star
George Brich/AP/Shutterstock

A star in his own right

In 1978, Mickey Mouse became the 1700th star on the Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Minne joined Mickey for the festivities in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater. They both look amazing at 50 years old! Here are 11 Walt Disney quotes that’ll inspire you to follow your dreams.

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Mickey china
Neal Ulevich/AP/Shutterstock

Mickey Mouse in China

Mickey Mouse seems to make friends wherever he goes. Here he’s hanging out with a Chinese friend celebrating Chinese New Years at the Great Wall of China (in Badaling, China). He was in China as part of a Disney promotional effort.

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Mickey and Reagans

The Reagans embrace Mickey and Minnie

President Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan are shown embracing Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse at the Epcot Center in Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, in 1985. These are the Disney characters you can’t meet in parks anymore.

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Prince and Pauper mickey
Moviestore Collection/Shutterstock

The Prince and the Pauper

So versatile is Mickey Mouse, that he was able to play both the Prince and the Pauper in this 1990 animated version of the Mark Twain story by the same name.

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Reality TV Mickey
Carin Baer/Tenth Planet Prod./ ABC-TV/Kobal/Shutterstock

The early days of reality shows

On Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson in 2004, former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Jessica Simpson shouts out to the club and the mouse that got her career off to a great start.

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Mickey apple watch
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/Shutterstock

The Mickey Face on the Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch, you probably already have heard Mickey calling out the time, which he does when you press one of the buttons on the side of your watch, provided you’re using a Mickey Mouse watch-face. There’s also a Minnie Mouse watch-face.

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Mickey google home mini

Mickey becomes a Google smart home device

Google only recently started introducing its smart home devices (to compete with Amazon’s), and immediately, they’re upping the game with their “Google Home Mini,” shaped like Mickey Mouse.

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Mickey 90th special

Mickey’s 90th

He hasn’t aged a day since his 50th birthday it seems. Here Mickey poses with one of Disney’s stars, Kristen Bell, who voiced Princess Anna in the movie, Frozen. 

Lauren Cahn
Lauren has covered knowledge, history, the British royal family, true crime and riddles for Reader's Digest since 2017. Having honed her research and writing skills as an attorney in the 1990s, she became one of HuffPost's first bloggers in the early 2000s, graduated to reporting hyperlocal news in the 2010s and has been researching and writing news and features for a wide variety of publications ever since. Aside from Reader's Digest, her work has appeared in Mashed, Tasting Table, Eat This, Not That!, Grown and Flown, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Insider, Business Insider and many others.