Did you know that Mickey Mouse at one point actually was meant to be a rabbit called Oswald?
In 1927 Walt Disney and his colleague Ub Iwerks were working on a series of animated shorts. The main character became Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Walt and Ub wanted a multifaceted character that was peppy, saucy and venturesome. It was meant to be the first character that actually had a personality.
The animated shorts with Oswald also played to surreal aspects of the character. For instance Oswald could dismember parts of his own body to accomplish things. He could for instance make propellers out of his ears to fly away.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was during his 1920’s tenure a smash hit among audiences. He was destined to be THE Disney star.
That didn’t happen, so what happened?
Walt Disney had signed a deal with the producer Charles Mintz for the animated shorts and thus gave away the rights for Oswald to Universal. When the two parted ways, Walt couldn’t continue to create stories for Oswald.
Walt then moved on to create Mickey Mouse who doesn’t need any introduction.
Disney’s popular rabbit creation was more or less forgotten for 80 years when the Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to Oswald again in an incredible transaction.
In 2006 American sports announcer Al Michaels wanted to cancel his contract with US television network ESPN (owned by the Walt Disney company) in order to move US television network NBC who’s subsidiary is Universal.
Since Disney COO Bob Iger knew how much Walt Disney loved Oswald he proposed an unconventional deal. He said that the transfer could be done if NBC handed Oswald back over to Disney.
In other words, a real person was traded for a 80 year old cartoon rabbit.
Since then, several animated shorts and games starring Oswald have been released. One of the most notable new works is the game Epic Mickey where Mickey encounters Oswald and becomes friends.
I guess Oswald was lucky after all!