Thursday, June 16, 2011

BaileyBlog: Oswald, Pluto & Figment

Excerpt from my BaileyBlog (at

One day when I was about 14 years old, I decided I liked Disney.  This decision was made mostly so that friends and family had a default concept built in for birthdays and Christmas gift ideas... I mean it made sense, as I grew up in and around Disneyland.  In high school, Toni Basil's "Oh Mickey" became my theme song and I acquired the nickname "Mick- the Mouse".  I even ended up working at Disneyland for a summer when I was 17-18 years of age.

Ironically though, as much as I do like Mickey Mouse, he doesn't rank as one of my top 10 favorite Disney characters.  Actually my very favorite Disney character is Pluto, a Mouse's best friend.  Why?  As near as I can figure, I am a lot like the loyal pup.  I am a Gemini, which means I have two distinct personalities... much like Pluto (who is actually a Virgo, as he premiered on September 5, 1930).  See, Pluto is an insanely loyal canine companion to Mickey, yet the moment Chip 'n Dale appear he's aggressive in defending his environment.  I see perfectly eye-to-eye with Pluto on that philosophy.

My next two favorites, in no particular order, start with Figment.  Actually, Figment of Imagination.  Figment is a wide-eyed, child-like purple dragon with an active and creative imagination, from the EPCOT attraction "Journey into Imagination", which opened on March 5, 1983.  Figment, along with his creator, Dreamfinder, explore creativity and imagination to the song "One Little Spark"---a song with my name in it! Cool!  Although Disney closed the original attraction 1998, and had to alter the replacement in order to add Figment back into the newest version, Figment remains one of my favorite characters ever created by Disney, and since he only resides in one location on the planet, he remains understated and quite special to me.

To round out the Holy Trinity of favorite Disney characters, I go to the oldest of all the Disney characters... no, not Mickey... Oswald.  If you know the story already, skip the next paragraph.  If not, let me share the details.

The first fully developed animated character Walt Disney created was Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit.  (He premiered on September 5, 1927-- thus sharing a birthday with Pluto!)  After a year of creating Oswald cartoons, Walt went to New York to request a financial increase for future episodes.  Instead he was told he would either accept less money, or the character would be animated elsewhere, as the studio actually owned the Lucky Rabbit.  Walt did not accept those terms, and as a result, the Oswald-less train trip back to California was where he came up with a new character, Mortimer Mouse Mickey Mouse.

Here's an awesome video that shows how everything went down in the late 1920's, at least how Oswald saw it!

(Also, this video clip is animated to music, "Oswald's Theme", created for the Epic Mickey video game that features Oswald)

In 2006, the Disney Company negotiated to bring Oswald back home to Disney for the first time in nearly 70 years.  That's his story and that's why he's one of my favorites.

So just remember,
despite what the official corporate statement might be...
really, "it all started with a Lucky rabbit!"

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