The past weeks have been especially busy for me, primarily due to trips to both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Content has been a bit lighter here and I have certainly been neglecting the mailroom. More articles are on the way (look for new entries in both Disney's Hollywood and Roadside Disney series soon), and for today we'll at least take a look at one email inquiry.
One of our favorite 2719 Hyperion readers, David Caffey, recently posed this question:
While browsing around the web this afternoon I checked in at Jessica’s If We Can Dream It… blog. The most recent post featured photos from Fulton’s General Store at Port Orleans Riverside and among the characters hard at work in the store displays are Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse. Who in the world are Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse and why do they look so much like the boss?
Unlike Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald Duck's long famous nephews, Morty and Ferdy have not experienced the fame and notoriety of their waterfowl counterparts. While the younger ducks' collective resume lists many appearances across numerous media, Morty and Ferdy have largely been confined to the four color world--the comics medium, from which they emerged in 1932.
Disney Legend Floyd Gottfredson introduced the pair in the Mickey Mouse newspaper strip Mickey Nephews that appeared on Sunday, September 18, 1932. They are the children of Mrs. Fieldmouse. Gottfredson very likely drew inspiration for the characters from the Mickey Mouse cartoon Mickey's Nightmare, which had been released to theaters a little over a month before. The comic strip incarnations are identical to the dream sequence offspring portrayed in the short.
A similar brood of toddler Mickeys were featured in the 1933 short Giantland. Mickey is identified as their uncle when he tells them a story that is a variation of Jack in the Beanstalk.
One year later, two toddler Mickeys appeared in the cartoon Mickey's Steamroller where their mischievous antics produced calamitous consequences for their famous uncle. They are not identified by name but numerous Disney texts consider this to be the one and only screen appearance of Morty and Ferdy. It is a convenient and easy connection to make, though it is likely the cartoon's creators never considered such an identification and were merely carrying over the toddler Mickey models from the prior shorts. The same character model would be used again in Mickey Plays Papa, Orphans Picnic and both the 1934 and 1941 versions of Orphans Benefit. Four decades later, a similar model would form the basis of the Tiny Tim character in Mickey's Christmas Carol. Twenty years after that, similar characters would make a brief cameo in an episode of Mickey's Mouse Works that would lated be recycled into the House of Mouse program.
The comic book incarnations of Morty and Ferdy in subsequent years grew more distinct and defined and eventually became fodder for both merchandising and theme park appearances.
The Official Encyclopedia Disney A to Z lists "Ferdy" as the official spelling, although it frequently appears as Ferdie as well.
Images © Walt Disney Company