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How a Church Member Helped Shape Mickey Mouse (+6 Other Latter-day Saint Ties to Disney)

November 18, 2018, was Mickey Mouse's 90th birthday! Check out this little-known story about how the iconic mouse was influenced by a Latter-day Saint.

Did you know that Mickey Mouse wasn't always the kind, compassionate role model we know today?

In the early days, Mickey was quite the violent troublemaker. His gradual change to the gentle, caring character we now know and love was significantly influenced by the man who was in charge of the Mickey Mouse comic strip for 45 years: Church member Floyd Gottfredson.Mormon Lloyd Gottfredson illustrated the Mickey Mouse comic strip for 45 years.

Image from fantagraphics.com

Gottfredson was hired by Walt Disney in 1929 to train in animation, even though his real passion was for comic strips. But four months later, Walt Disney asked Gottfredson to take over the Mickey Mouse comic strip.

At this point, Gottfredson was enjoying working in animation and didn't want to make the switch, but as Gottfredson said in a 1979 interview with Jim Korkis, "Walt was quite a salesman. He told me to just take the strip for two weeks to give him some time to find another artist. I wanted to help out, so I agreed."

Gottfredson filled that "temporary" position from 1930 to 1975.

J. Michael Hunter, author of "The Mormon Influence at Disney" and editor of Mormons and Pop Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon, writes:

"Under Gottfredson, Mickey evolved in the comic strip from little more than a mischief-maker to an emblem of right and good. Although Walt Disney had an influence in Mickey's development, Geoffrey Blum, a writer who specialized in animation art, wrote, 'Gottfredson's Mormon upbringing and his unflaggingly positive outlook made him the perfect keeper for this icon. Never complaining, choking back his hurts—this is the ethic he brought to Mickey. Gottfredson's mouse combines the virtues of good citizen and good soldier.'"

Hunter further reports that "the slapstick, gleefully puckish animated Mickey evolved on film into the self-sacrificing, heroic Mickey of the comic strip—a strip whose general plot and story line were worked out by Gottfredson for nearly 50 years."

Now that you know more about the world's most famous mouse, read on to learn 6 more fun facts about how Latter-day Saints have left their mark on the magical world of Disney.

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