According to Walt Disney, the idea for Mickey Mouse suddenly popped into his head on a 1928 cross-country train ride “when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at [their] lowest ebb,” as he wrote in 1948.
Nice story. It’s become part of American lore. But it’s not true.
In reality, Mickey Mouse was created by an animator named Ub Iwerks — sketched in March 1928 on an ordinary piece of two-hole punch paper in less than an hour.
Iwerks has been largely forgotten by the general public, his place in creating the Disney brand downplayed. Walt made sure of that, says a new book, “A Mouse Divided” by Jeff Ryan (Post Hill Press), out Tuesday.
“After [Walt and Ub’s] acrimonious breakup, Walt started telling a story that he had made up Mickey solo, leaving Iwerks out of the equation,” Ryan tells The Post. “As he kept adding to it, people began to realize it wasn’t true. Walt knew what audiences wanted wasn’t the unglamorous truth but a legend, a myth.”
Walt and Ub, whose full name is Ubbe (pronounced “oob”) Iwwerks, started out as best friends. The two men met in Kansas City in 1919 while working at an art studio. They soon launched their own animation venture, producing cartoon shorts that were screened before feature films.