Oswald the (un)Lucky Rabbit v Mickey Mouse
This is a story of how a rabbit turned into a mouse
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a Universal Pictures cartoon character created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. On September 5, 1927, he made his debut in the short film Trolley Troubles.
Oswald starred in several animated shorts between 1927- 1938, 27 of them were produced at Walt Disney Studios.
A dispute occurred between Disney and Mintz regarding royalties (Disney wanted more money)and Mintz reminded Disney that Universal Pictures owned the IP rights to the character. Essentially Disney created Oswald but somebody else owned the work. After this dispute, Disney needed to create a replacement for Oswald that he would own. Enter Micky Mouse: Mickey Mouse was conceived in secret while Disney produced the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz/Universal
Mickey Mouse was created using “inspiration” from Walt Disney’s prior work. Oswald’s ears were cut and additional padding placed around the center, and the rabbit was transformed into a mouse.
Plane Crazy was the first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be filmed in the summer of 1928, but it was made as a silent picture and was never released. Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse film with a synchronized soundtrack, was released later that year and quickly eclipsed the popularity of Oswald.
Mickey Mouse’s character grew in popularity as Disney’s mascot and Oswald faded into obscurity. Oswald’s last appearance while under Universal’s ownership was in Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau (1995) a video game only released in Brazil.
In 2006 Disney re-acquired Oswald the Lucky Rabbit from NBC/Universal. Universal did not really exploit Oswald after his initial success in the 1930s.
Disney brought the rabbit back to life as he was seen on a few Disney IPs such as Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.