The first script ever written for a Mickey Mouse cartoon will be offered at a special animation auction later this month.
The original draft for Steamboat Willie, regarded as the official screen debut of Mickey Mouse and one of the most important cartoons ever made, will be sold in an annual auction by the S/R Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center.
The script market the birth of a cultural icon, and the true lift-off of the world’s biggest entertainment empire.
"The creation of Mickey Mouse and the release of ‘Steamboat Willie’, the first animated sound cartoon, not only saved the Disney Studio after the loss of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but singlehandedly gave animation itself, which had been showing serious signs of having outlived its novelty, a shot in the arm so powerful it saved the entire industry and propelled both it and Walt’s new star into one of the great forces of modern times," said Ron Stark, director of S/R Laboratories.
On Saturday, May 19, 1928, Walt Disney and his business partner Ub Iwerks sat down and, in a single burst of creativity, wrote the script for ‘Steamboat Willie’ – the cartoon short in which Mickey made his debut.
Two days later they registered the character Mickey Mouse as an official trademark, and the rest is history.
The typed document they created that day includes annotations and sketches of Mickey on the steamboat, which would later appear almost identically in the finished cartoon.
Steamboat Willie was the first Disney cartoon with synchronized sound, and was an immediate hit with audiences. It premiered at Universal’s Colony Theater in New York City, and Iwerks later said "I’ve never been so thrilled in my life. Nothing since has ever equaled it."
The document has been carefully authenticated by David Iwerks, the world’s leading authority on his father’s work, and comes complete with a dossier of information regarding its background.
“David Iwerks spent a considerable amount of time examining all the pages of the draft from every aspect, applying his first-hand knowledge of his father’s artistic style and thinking, as well as what he knows of the history of that time,” said Stark. “His conclusion was definitive: the draft and its drawings are unquestionably authentic.”
The S/R Laboratories 40th Anniversary Commemorative auction takes place by phone only on October 24, 2016.