Monday, August 18, 2008

Freeze Frame! - Mickey's Kangaroo

In the 1935 cartoon Mickey's Kangaroo, Mickey receives a special delivery from a Leo Buring in Australia. The short was supposedly inspired by real life events. On a post from the Disney History blog, J.B. Kaufmann noted:

"According to a syndicated story that appeared in newspapers in 1934, an Australian admirer sent Walt a gift of two wallabies, a male and a female. By the time they reached the States, they had produced a third. According to this story, the Disney staff promptly named the male wallaby Leapo, the female Hoppo, and the baby Poucho. This of course became an obvious inspiration for the cartoon Mickey's Kangaroo, released the following April. Joe Grant told me in 1988 that the newspaper story was true; he remembered the wallabies being kept in a pen outside the story department. I asked him if the name that appears on the mailing label in the cartoon, Leo Buring, was the name of the real-life person who sent the animals to Walt, and he thought it probably was."

Leo Buring was at that time becoming a well known figure in the Australian wine industry. According to the web site Wine Society, "In 1931 Buring formed a business partnership with Reginald Mowat of Great Western called Leo Buring & Co. His first wine was made from grapes grown at his Emu Plains property in the early 1930s."

Another interesting piece of kangaroo trivia--likely inspired by Mickey's Kangaroo, Disney artists would in 1943 redesign Pocket Books trademark kangaroo Gertrude. The paperback publisher's mascot and joey were no doubt drawn in part from the character designs created for the 1935 cartoon.


Unknown said...

Great Freeze Frame and great post.

I am still amazed at all of the little details that the animators were able to fit into the shorts over the years.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Pocket Books kangaroo is really based on the Disney kangaroo. The ears are different, there's no boxing gloves, their kangaroo is wearing glasses. They're both kangaroos, they're going to look somewhat similar, but I don't think there's a connection here.

Jeffrey Pepper said...

I did not claim in the post that the design was "duplicated" from Mickey's Kangaroo. I used the terms "inspired by" and "drawn in part" to describe the association. Boxing gloves would have no relevance to a design intended to portray a book publisher; reading glasses obviously do.

The fact remains that Disney artists designed the 1943 version of Gertrude and I still feel very strongly that they likely used Mickey's Kangaroo as a reference.