In my last article, we looked at the history of Mickey Mouse, the icon of the Walt Disney Company. So, as promised, we are now going to take a look at Mickey’s girlfriend – Minnie Mouse. Despite having the same last name, Mickey and Minnie are not related and have never been married. Minnie has her own house and is always represented as Mickey’s girlfriend.
The character of Minnie was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in1928. Her full name was given as Minerva “Minnie” Mouse in a comic strip story entitled “ The Gleam” that was published January 19-May 2, 1942. We know little about Mickey’s relatives but for Minnie, we do know some about her family. From a comic strip story called “Mr. Slicker and the Egg Robbers”, published from September 22 – December 26, 1930, we learn that her parents were farmers. Her father is named Marcus Mouse though her mother is unnamed. That same story identified an uncle as Milton Mouse and her grandparents as Marshall and Matilda Mouse. In addition, she has a better known uncle Mortimer Mouse and twin nieces, Millie and Melody Mouse. Her closest friends are Daisy Duck and Clarabelle Cow.
This early concept art from The Walt Disney Family Museum from1928, shows the earliest drawing of Mickey and also a female version, presumably Minnie in the lower right.
Minnie was designed in the “Flapper Girl Style” which was popular at the time in the 1920s. She wear a very short flapper girl skirt which often shows her underwear which was frequently patched. In the 1929 cartoon The Karnival Kid we learn that she also wears black stockings which were also popular with the girls of the ‘20s. Most distinctively however are her oversized high heel yellow pumps. She also wore a hat. In the 1940s both she and Mickey were redesigned to a look similar to what we have today. In that transition Minnie’s hat was replaced by the bow that we are familiar with today.
Like Mickey, she appeared in the first three cartoon that starred him. The third drawn was also the first to be released, Steamboat Willie. During the early days, Minnie’s personality is fun, playful and flirtatious. Much of the comedy of the early shorts involved Mickey trying to woo her. During this time she was usually portrayed as an entertainer of some sort.
In 1930, the short The Picnic, featured the introduction of Pluto, then called Rover, as Minnie’s pet. Over the years, he has become Mickey’s dog and his faithful companion.
In 1929s Mickey’s Follies, we have the introduction of Minnie’s Yoo Hoo which would become her theme song. This same short also established Mickey and Minnie as a couple for life.
Over the years, Minnie has appeared in many shorts and most recently in 2004s Mickey, Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers, She portrays a princess of France. She has her own clothing line called Minnie ‘n Me. She is also a character in the video game series Kingdom Hearts. Today, Minnie and Mickey appear often at the Disney Parks and are beloved icons of Disney.
In closing, a final note on the voice actors who have portrayed Minnie have all been women with one notable exception. The fist person to voice Minnie and Mickey was Walt Disney.