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The amazing "Steamboat Willie" (released on November 18, 1928), is an animated cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse and masterminded by Walt Disney. Contrary to popular belief it was not the very first cartoon produced to feature Mickey (previous Mickey films were Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho), but it was the one that made Mickey Mouse famous. Steamboat Willie was also the first sound cartoon to attract widespread interest and popularity.

Steamboat Willie - 1928

Steamboat Willie begins with Mickey Mouse steering the boat down a river. He is whistling a merry tune. Until....Captain Pete appears behind him and throws him angrily down the boat. After Mickey throws a bucket full of water over a laughing parrot, the boat lands at a port and Mickey attempts, and eventually succeeds, to load a cow on-board. Minnie Mouse is seen running for the boat but she is too late - It's gone!She runs up the river bank crying out. Mickey spots her and very crudley hooks her by her knickers and pulls her on-board.

We can already see the Juvenility of Mickey Mouse, he is a bit of a messer! Quite different from the model mouse we know today. More on this:

The Evolution of Mickey Mouse

Mickey and Minnie suddenly realise that a goat on-board the ship is eating Minnie's guitar. It becomes stuck inside the goat and Minnie plays music through the goat's mouth by winding his tail. Mickey joins in by playing the drums on various surfaces around the deck. He even plays a few animals! All is well, until once again the tyrannical Captain Pete shows up. This time he flings Mickey into a cabin full of un-peeled potatoes.
A subdued looking Mickey gets to work. The parrot lands on the sill of the open cabin window and begins making fun of Mickey and laughing at him once more. Mickey takes one angry look at the parrot and hurls a half-peeled potato at it, knocking the parrot in the sea. Splash! Now its Mickey's turn to laugh!

Exquisite, So funny - that rascal Mickey Mouse!

Steamboat Willie Title Screen



It Is actually not the first synchronized sound cartoon. Walt Disney's rival Max Fleischer had produced a series of sound Bouncing Ball "Song Car-Tunes" before this, which featured synchronized dialogue and music, starting in 1924.
The first of which to be released was "Come Take a Trip in My Airship" (1924).
Although "My Old Kentucky Home" (1926) was the first produced in the series.

The second Mickey Mouse cartoon to be released, and the first in the series to be made with a synchronized soundtrack

Before the copyright for "Steamboat Willie" expired in 1998, Disney lobbied the US Congress successfully for an extension of copyright protection by twenty years. Because of this law, "Steamboat Willie" will not enter the public domain until 2018.

There was one part of the cartoon planned, but never animated. After getting the cow onto the boat, Mickey was to load the sow. The sow would have been partly visible behind a crate. The sow would then have been shown being lifted up, with her (previously unseen) piglets hanging on to her teats for dear life.