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This article is about the short. For the boat, see Steamboat Willie Riverboat.

Steamboat Willie is a Mickey Mouse cartoon that premiered on November 18, 1928, at the Colony Theater in New York, produced by Walt Disney and directed by Ub Iwerks. This cartoon is notable for being both Mickey and Minnie's official debut and also the start of a new era of American animated short subjects, having introduced synchronized sound editing to animated films.

Plot[]

Steamboat-willie

The iconic opening scene in which Mickey is piloting Steamboat Willie. This scene is occasionally featured in the Walt Disney Animation Studio production logo.

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Pete scowling at Mickey Mouse.

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The goat ready to feast upon "Turkey in the Straw".

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Mickey playing along with musical items to "Turkey in the Straw".

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Minnie cranking the goat "phonograph".

The film begins with Mickey (nicknamed Steamboat Willie in this short) piloting a steamboat down a river, happily whistling along to the tune of "Steamboat Bill". He pulls a rope to sound the steamboat's three whistles. The tall and medium whistle sound off in synch but the shortest one stays quiet until it receives a good hit from the medium one. Unbeknownst to Mickey, an angry Captain Peg Leg Pete appears behind him and grabs Mickey's torso, stretching it in the process and switches places with him behind the wheel.

Pete proceeds to yell at Mickey and then and sends him back down to the deck. Mickey salutes weakly while Pete turns around. Behind his back, Mickey blows a raspberry. Pete turns around angrily to see Mickey weakly waving his hands, possibly indicating it was just gas. Pete goes to kick Mickey, who races down the stairs, which causes Pete's leg to miss completely and swing around to kick himself in the rear instead.

Mickey tumbles down the stairs, slips on a bar of soap, and lands in a bucket of water. A parrot nearby mocks him and begins to laugh, which provokes Mickey to throw the bucket on the parrot, who squawks for help as Mickey walks away. Pete, who has been watching this whole time, pulls out a slab of chewing tobacco and bites off half of it. He spits in front of him and the spit circles around and hits the bell behind him causing it to ring. Giddy, Pete attempts to do it again. He spits and turns around to watch it hit the bell but gets hit in the face instead which causes him to make a fuss.

The film then cuts to a shot of Podunk Landing with two chickens, a duck, and a cow stationed on the dock. Steamboat Willie makes its way around the bend and backs up into the dock. Mickey is lowered down to the dock by a crane near the cow. He fastens a belt around the cow in order to lift him onto the ship. However, the belt is far too big and the cow far too skinny, so all that happens is the cow being caught by the udder hanging upside down.

In a panic, Mickey attempts to bring the cow back down by grabbing her tail and gets sprayed by the udder with milk. The cow is lowered back to the dock and Mickey attempts to tighten the belt to no avail. He looks distraught until he sees a wagon of hay and grabs a big fork load to feed to the cow. The cow happily swallows the entire bale and is easily fattened up to the size of the belt and is loaded onto the ship.

Just then, Minnie Mouse appears on the scene running to catch up to Steamboat Willie. Mickey jumps aboard the ship and takes off leaving Minnie yelling at the dock. She proceeds to run alongside the river after the steamboat. Calling for help, Mickey hears her and decides to lower the crane to catch her. The crane is lowered by Minnie and the hook proceeds to gently lift her skirt up and grab hold of her bloomers carrying her onto the ship. As she is lowered, Minnie drops her fiddle and "Turkey in the Straw" sheet music which bounces over to a goat.

The goat sees it and begins to eat the sheet music. Minnie is lowered to the ship and the hook pulls her skirt back down. Minnie is happy to see Mickey and turns shyly away to see the goat eating her sheet music. The goat then starts on the fiddle and Mickey attempts to yank it out of his mouth. Mickey struggles but can't pull it out and falls on the ground launching the fiddle into the goat's body which proceeds to bounce around causing music notes to sound. Mickey hears this and gets the idea to use the goat as a phonograph. He opens the goat's mouth and calls Minnie over.

Minnie gets the idea and begins to "crank" the goat's tail and "Turkey in the Straw" begins to play. What follows is a lively rendition of the song where Mickey uses a barrel and garbage can as drums, bangs on pots and pans, strokes a washboard, pulls on a cat's tail to make it sing and swings it around his head, uses a duck as a makeshift bagpipe, pulls on little piglets' tails to make squeals, uses the mama pig as a makeshift accordion, and finally uses the cow's teeth as a makeshift xylophone.

After the song, Mickey takes a bow and finds Peg Leg Pete scowling at him. He attempts to walk away but Pete grabs him and sends him below deck to peel potatoes. Mickey begins to work when the annoying parrot flies into the window and begins to mock and laugh at him again provoking Mickey to throw a half-peeled potato at him, sending the parrot splashing into the water. Triumphant, Mickey begins to laugh and brings the picture to a close.

Characters[]

Production notes[]

  • In a test screening from family and friends, Walt Disney recalls the first public reaction to his new sound Mickey Mouse cartoons:
When the picture was half finished, we had a showing with sound. A couple of boys could read music and one of them, Wilfred Jackson, could play a mouth organ [harmonica]. We put them in a room where they could not see the screen and arranged to pipe their sound into the room where our wives and friends were going to see the picture. The boys worked from music and sound effects score. After several false starts, sound and action got off with the gun. The mouth organist [harmonica player] played the tune; the rest of us in the sound department blamed tin pans and blew slide whistles in the beat. The synchronism was pretty close. The effect on our little audience was nothing less than electric. They responded almost instinctively to this union of sound and motion. I thought they were kidding me. So they put me in the audience and ran the action again. It was terrible, but it was wonderful! And it was something new!
  • The cartoon was written and directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The title is a parody of the Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill Jr. Music for Steamboat Willie was put together by Wilfred Jackson, one of Disney's animators — not, as sometimes reported, by Carl Stalling — and comprises popular melodies including Steamboat Bill and Turkey in the Straw.

Releases[]

Television[]

Home video[]

VHS

Laserdisc

  • Mickey Mouse: The Black and White Years - Volume One
  • The Spirit of Mickey
  • Mickey Mouse: A Star is Born
  • Mickey's Greatest Hits

DVD

Blu-ray

Streaming[]

Trivia[]

  • The film's copyright was renewed on December 22, 1955.[1]
  • Since January 1, 2024, the film is now in public domain, though the original design of Mickey Mouse still holds a trademark by The Walt Disney Company.
  • Though Steamboat Willie was the first cartoon in Mickey's lineup to be released, two cartoons Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho were produced before but released after this cartoon.
  • Steamboat Willie is generally considered to be the first popular cartoon with synchronized sound, along with being the very first Walt Disney Animation Studios short film to do so.
    • Contrary to belief, it was not the first cartoon in history to feature synchronized sound (there was Paul Terry's Dinner Time and the Fleischer Brothers' Ko-Ko Song Car-Tunes before that), nor was it Disney's first produced cartoon.
    • By hearing steamboat willie in a documentary by Disney, you can see that the sound has changed., the reason is unknown.
  • The title is a parody of the Buster Keaton film Steamboat Bill, Jr., also released in 1928.
  • In the 1950s, Disney removed a scene with Mickey pulling on the baby pigs' tails and shaking them off their mother as he plays her like an accordion and it was cut from most media because it was deemed "inappropriate". However, the full version of the short with that scene is shown on the 1998 cartoon compilation VHS The Spirit of Mickey, the Walt Disney Treasures DVD set, Mickey Mouse in Black and White, and on Disney+.
    • This part is also cut out from the Walt Disney Animation Studios' official YouTube channel since that version specifically is sourced from a cut version.
  • The film's original release date, November 18, 1928, was later declared as Mickey's official birthday in the early 1970s.
  • In 1998, the Library of Congress added Steamboat Willie to the National Film Registry.
  • Steamboat Willie was briefly referenced in the film Saving Private Ryan. After the main characters capture the machine gun nest, a captured German soldier mentions the film. As the soldier's real name is never stated, he is often nicknamed "Steamboat Willie".
  • The scene where the goat eats the music sheets and the instrument, as well as Mickey turning the goat into a phonograph, mirrors an exact event from the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon called Rival Romeos.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie", the fictional TV characters, Itchy and Scratchy pay tribute to Steamboat Willie by mimicking the signature pose in a monochrome format. Fittingly, the director of that episode is Rich Moore: a director at Walt Disney Animation Studios best known for directing Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia.
  • Steamboat Willie pioneered a film and animation technique referred to as Mickey Mousing. It involves syncing the accompanying music of a scene with the actions on screen. This technique gained popularity with other animation producers of the era and has since inspired several Disney productions, namely Fantasia.
  • While the dialogue is barely intelligible, the parrot mocks Mickey by saying: "Hope you don't feel hurt, big boy!", being a reference to Ida Cox's 1927 blues hit "Worn Down Daddy". Other sources mention that the parrot also says "Help! Help! Man overboard!" after getting hit by the bucket.
    • Additionally, one can barely hear Pete muttering "Get down there!"

References in later Disney media[]

  • The signature melody for Steamboat Willie has been used as an introduction for movies by Walt Disney Feature Animation ever since the animation studio's restructured by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull under the name Walt Disney Animation Studios (starting with the movie Meet the Robinsons). It starts out as a blank piece of paper as lines are drawn onto it, recreating the iconic scene from a basic sketch to the final iteration.
  • At the beginning of the Bonkers episode "Of Mice and Menace", Steamboat Willie's steering wheel, along with a framed picture of Mickey steering the boat, is shown to be on display at the Toon Museum.
  • In the short film Runaway Brain, Mickey (in Julius's body) shows Julius (in Mickey's body) his wallet and the first thing shown in it is a photo of Mickey steering the boat, to which Mickey comments "Aw, that's old!" During the end credits, a Hawaiian-themed version of the tune from that particular cartoon is heard
  • At the end of Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Genie is seen exiting the mouth of the giant turtle on a small boat similar to Steamboat Willie, with Genie himself appearing as Mickey whistling "Turkey in the Straw".
  • Steamboat Willie is often referenced and parodied in Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse.
    • In "Mickey's April Fools", Mickey imitates the same opening scene to prove to a lawyer that he is the real star along with some of his other past roles. His rival Mortimer Mouse later pretends to be Mickey and does the same thing, but extremely badly.
    • In "How to Be a Waiter", Goofy tries acting in a parody titled Steamboat Goofy. He ends up accidentally crashing his own steamboat against Steamboat Willie itself, much to the annoyance of Mickey.
    • In "The Stolen Cartoons", Donald Duck, trying to appease the audience when they demand Mickey while he's absent, attempts to imitate the opening scene of Steamboat Willie.
  • Steamboat Willie is the basis of the Timeless River world in Kingdom Hearts II. Other shorts that are areas of that world are Gulliver Mickey, Building a Building, Mickey's Orphans, and The Fire Fighters.
  • Stages based on Steamboat Willie are also featured in Mickey Mania and Epic Mickey. Additionally, in both Epic Mickey and its sequel Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, the theater on Mean Street is playing "Steamboat Oswald".
  • Steamboat Willie is the subject of a comic story titled "Mickey Mouse and the River of Time", in which the sunken ruins of the ship turn up in a river and Mickey and Pete work to salvage the craft.
  • Part of the Old-Timey World in the Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension video game is set on a version of Steamboat Willie owned by the level's version of Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
  • In Mickey Monkey, the twenty-ninth episode of Mickey Mouse, a mischievous monkey impersonating Mickey performs the opening scene while Minnie, Donald, and Goofy play "Steamboat Bill".
  • In Hats Enough, the eighty-third episode of Mickey Mouse, when Mickey tries to find a good hat, one of the hats is similar to the hat he wore here.
  • In the DuckTales reboot episode "Moonvasion!", when Della and the kids find Donald, he is holding a melon shaped as Mickey and is wearing a Donald Sailor hat, referencing Steamboat Willie.
  • Sora's Timeless River appearance from Kingdom Hearts II serves as one of his alternate costumes in Nintendo's crossover fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • In Mickey Saves Christmas, a model of the Steamboat Willie Riverboat can briefly be seen in Mickey's cottage.
  • The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse special "Steamboat Silly" involved Mickey and his friends watching this classic cartoon when multiple copies of Mickey from the film reel escape and cause mayhem.

Gallery[]

Wiki
The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Steamboat Willie.

References[]

External links[]


v - e - d
Mickey Mouse Short logo 3
1920s
Plane CrazyThe Gallopin' GauchoSteamboat WillieThe Barn DanceThe Opry HouseWhen the Cat's AwayThe Barnyard BattleThe PlowboyThe Karnival KidMickey's FolliesMickey's Choo-ChooThe Jazz FoolJungle RhythmThe Haunted HouseWild Waves
1930s
Fiddling AroundThe Barnyard ConcertThe Cactus KidThe Fire FightersThe ShindigThe Chain GangThe Gorilla MysteryThe PicnicPioneer DaysThe Birthday PartyTraffic TroublesThe CastawayThe Moose HuntThe Delivery BoyMickey Steps OutBlue RhythmFishin' AroundThe Barnyard BroadcastThe Beach PartyMickey Cuts UpMickey's OrphansThe Duck HuntThe Grocery BoyThe Mad DogBarnyard OlympicsMickey's RevueMusical FarmerMickey in ArabiaMickey's NightmareTrader MickeyThe Whoopee PartyTouchdown MickeyThe Wayward CanaryParade of the Award NomineesThe Klondike KidMickey's Good DeedBuilding a BuildingThe Mad DoctorMickey's Pal PlutoMickey's MellerdrammerYe Olden DaysThe Mail PilotMickey's Mechanical ManMickey's Gala PremierPuppy LoveThe Steeple-ChaseThe Pet StoreGiantlandShanghaiedCamping OutPlayful PlutoGulliver MickeyMickey's Steam-RollerOrphan's BenefitMickey Plays PapaThe DognapperTwo-Gun MickeyMickey's Man FridayThe Band ConcertMickey's Service StationMickey's KangarooMickey's GardenMickey's Fire BrigadePluto's Judgement DayOn IceMickey's Polo TeamOrphans' PicnicMickey's Grand OperaThru the MirrorMickey's RivalMoving DayAlpine ClimbersMickey's CircusMickey's ElephantThe Worm TurnsMagician MickeyMoose HuntersMickey's AmateursHawaiian HolidayClock CleanersLonesome GhostsBoat BuildersMickey's TrailerThe WhalersMickey's ParrotBrave Little TailorSociety Dog ShowMickey's Surprise PartyThe PointerThe Standard Parade
1940s
Tugboat MickeyPluto's Dream HouseMr. Mouse Takes a TripThe Sorcerer's ApprenticeThe Little WhirlwindThe Nifty NinetiesOrphan's BenefitA Gentleman's GentlemanCanine CaddyLend a PawAll TogetherMickey's Birthday PartySymphony HourPluto and the ArmadilloSquatter's RightsMickey and the BeanstalkMickey's Delayed DateMickey Down UnderMickey and the Seal
1950s
R'Coon DawgPluto's PartyPluto's Christmas TreeThe Simple Things
1980s-Present
Mickey's Christmas CarolThe Prince and the PauperMickey And The Goat Man [Mickey and The Goat Man] • Get a Horse!Mickey in a MinuteOnce Upon a Studio
See Also
The Mickey Mouse ClubThe Mouse FactoryGood Morning, MickeyMickey's Mouse TracksMickey Mouse and Friends (TV Series)Disney's The Twelve Days of ChristmasMickey's Fun SongsMickey's Once Upon a ChristmasHouse of MouseMickey Mouse WorksMickey's Magical ChristmasMickey's House of VillainsMickey's Twice Upon a ChristmasMickey Mouse ClubhouseMickey MousekersizeMickey Mouse (TV series)Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up AdventuresMickey's 90th SpectacularThe Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse


v - e - d
Minnie Mouse short logo
1920s
Plane CrazyThe Gallopin' GauchoSteamboat WillieThe Barn DanceWhen the Cat's AwayThe PlowboyThe Karnival KidMickey's FolliesMickey's Choo-ChooWild Waves
1930s
The Cactus KidThe Fire FightersThe ShindigThe Gorilla MysteryThe PicnicPioneer DaysThe Birthday PartyTraffic TroublesThe Delivery BoyMickey Steps OutBlue RhythmThe Barnyard BroadcastThe Beach PartyMickey Cuts UpMickey's OrphansThe Grocery BoyBarnyard OlympicsMickey's RevueMusical FarmerMickey in ArabiaMickey's NightmareThe Whoopee PartyTouchdown MickeyThe Wayward CanaryThe Klondike KidBuilding a BuildingMickey's Pal PlutoMickey's MellerdrammerYe Olden DaysThe Mail PlotMickey's Mechanical ManMickey's Gala PremierPuppy LoveThe Pet StoreThe Steeple-ChaseShanghaiedCamping OutMickey's Steam-RollerTwo-Gun MickeyOn IceMickey's RivalHawaiian HolidayBrave Little TailorMickey's Surprise Party
1940s
The Little WhirlwindThe Nifty NinetiesMickey's Birthday PartyOut of the Frying Pan Into the Firing LineFirst AidersBath DayFigaro and FrankieMickey's Delayed DatePluto's Sweater
1950s-present
Pluto and the GopherMickey's Christmas CarolRunaway BrainMickey and the Goat ManElectric HolidayGet a Horse!Once Upon a Studio
Songs
While Strolling Through the ParkMinnie MouseDon't Go Breaking My HeartOur Miss MinnieMinnie's Bow-tique
Attractions
Totally MinnieMinnie's Tiara of DreamsMinnie Oh! Minnie! Minnie's Wonderful Christmastime FireworksIt’s Very Minnie!Minnie's Style StudioMinnie's Besties BashMinnie, We Love You!Minnie @ Funderland
See Also
Totally MinnieMinnie's Bow-ToonsMickey's 90th SpectacularLofi Minnie: FocusLofi Minnie: Chill


v - e - d
Walt Disney Animation Studios - Transparent Logo
1920s—1970s
Disney's Nine Old Men: Milt KahlFrank ThomasOllie JohnstonLes ClarkJohn LounsberyMarc DavisWard KimballEric LarsonWolfgang Reitherman

Animators: Bill TytlaArt BabbittLee BlairPreston BlairFred MooreShamus CulhaneCy YoungDon LuskNorman FergusonHal KingJack HannahDick KinneyHal AmbroKen O'BrienJudge WhitakerBill JusticeDon BluthGary GoldmanCharles A. NicholsBlaine GibsonJohn EwingWalt StanchfieldRolly CrumpFred HellmichAmby PaliwodaWilfred JacksonXavier AtencioBen SharpsteenEarl HurdDale OliverEric CleworthDavid HandFred SpencerJulius SvendsenJack BradburyKenneth MuseRudolf IsingHugh HarmanFriz FrelengWalt KellyLeo SalkinJohn DehnerRetta ScottDavid SwiftMel ShawJack CuttingGrant SimmonsArt StevensFrank TashlinWathel RogersTyrus WongJohnny CannonBernard WolfJohn W. Dunn
Visual Development, Layout, Background Artists and Character Designers: Gustaf TenggrenMary BlairMarjorie RalstonLillian BoundsJoe GrantMel ShawClaude CoatsDon DaGradiJohn HenchEyvind EarleKen O'ConnorThor PutnamAlbert HurterJohn HubleyHerbert RymanDon GriffithBasil DavidovichJack BoydPeter EllenshawRuthie TompsonEarl DuvallRetta DavidsonUb IwerksVance GerryHazel SewellJames BodreroLance NolleyGrace BaileyMaurice NobleDale BarnhartAndy EngmanEustace LycettJohn EmersonJoe HaleLeota ToombsFerdinand Horvath
Storyboard Artists and Writers: Bill PeetRalph WrightDick HuemerFloyd NormanYale GraceyTed SearsErdman PennerJoe RinaldiWinston HiblerOtto EnglanderWilliam CottrellBill BergAl BertinoT. HeeHomer BrightmanTed OsbourneLarry ClemmonsHarry ReevesJesse MarshChuck CouchWebb SmithDick Sebast
Directors: Clyde GeronimiHamilton LuskeJack KinneyTed BermanRichard RichGeorge ScribnerRiley ThomsonDick LundyJack KingBurt GillettJames AlgarBill RobertsLarry LansburghRichard Irvine
Producers: Walt DisneyRon MillerKen AndersonDon DuckwallPerce PearceMargaret J. Winkler

1980s—present
Renaissance Directors: Rob MinkoffRoger AllersGary TrousdaleKirk WiseChris SandersMark DindalJohn Musker

Story Trust Directors: Ron ClementsChris BuckByron HowardDon HallChris WilliamsRich MooreStephen J. AndersonNathan GrenoFawn Veerasunthorn
Producers: Peter Del VechoClark SpencerRoy ConliDorothy McKimDon HahnShane Morris
Chief Creative Officer: Jennifer Lee
Associated Figures: Bob IgerRoy Edward DisneyMichael EisnerJohn LasseterEd CatmullJeffrey KatzenbergBob Chapek
Signature Voice Actors: Jim CummingsAlan TudykKatie LowesJohn DiMaggioMaurice LaMarcheJodi BensonDavid Ogden StiersJesse CortiPaul BriggsRaymond S. PersiPhil JohnstonFrank WelkerBill FarmerBrian Cummings
Signature Musicians: Robert B. Sherman Richard M. Sherman Alan Menken Kristen Anderson-Lopez Robert LopezLin-Manuel MirandaHoward AshmanTim RicePhil CollinsStephen SchwartzMarc ShaimanDanny Troob
Supervising Animators: Glen KeaneAndreas DejaEric GoldbergMark HennJohn PomeroyRandy HaycockDale BaerTony BancroftTom BancroftTony FucileAnthony DeRosaRuss EdmondsRandy HaycockBruce W. SmithDuncan MarjoribanksRuben AquinoNik RanieriRon HusbandRick FarmiloeTom SitoTony AnselmoWill FinnKathy Zielinski
Visual Development & Storyboard Artists: Dean DeBloisClaire KeaneBrittney LeeJin KimShiyoon KimRyan Green

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