Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mickey Plays Paderewski

The popular culture that found its way into the earliest of Mickey Mouse cartoons has often become lost and obscure to contemporary audiences. Such is certainly the case with the 1929 short The Opry House. When Mickey proceeds to entertain the crowd with a piano solo, he is sporting an extreme hair style that he proceeds to brush back in an exaggerated sweep of the hand. This was in fact, not a generic gag. In their book, The Hand Behind the Mouse, authors Leslie Iwerks and John Kenworthy confirm that Ub Iwerks was using Mickey to caricature the then quite famous pianist, composer and Polish politician Ignacy Paderewski.

Paderewski was world renown throughout much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He toured America extensively during the 1920s, and the reference was undoubtedly not lost on those viewing The Opry House during its 1929 release.

Though Minnie Mouse did not appear per se in The Opry House, she is represented on a poster for the Yankee Doodle Girls. This was a popular vaudeville act throughout the first few decades of the century. A young Charlie Chaplin enjoyed a brief romance with one Hetty Kelly, a member of a Yankee Doodle Girls song and dance troupe back during the summer of 1908.


Bob Cowan said...

- Nice work.
- Good background development in the posting.
- I like it when folks put up photos of those included in the article.

Thanks! Bob