Mickey Mouse made his Disney debut in 1928, first in Steamboat Willie and later in other Silly Symphonies animated shorts. The company’s next big splash came in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length animated feature film, which launched Disney's animation empire. But some have argued that Snow White was not the first Disney princess. That title should perhaps belong to Persephone, the main character in the 1934 Silly Symphonies short The Goddess of Spring, which served as a test-run for Snow White. Based on the Greek goddess, Persephone was the Disney animators’ first human-like character, seen flitting through a world of dwarf-like figures, adorable animals, and fairies in the short film. And like Snow White, she had a habit of holding her skirt and twirling her way through life.
From Mortimer to a princess:
- Disney created Mickey Mouse -- originally named Mortimer -- while on a train headed to California. The mouse was later renamed at the urging of Walt's wife, Lillian.
- The staff working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs grew to 600 employees to handle the multi-step process of hand-drawn animation. More than 200,000 drawings were used.
- The innovative film reached a wide audience in early 1938. Cinemas were packed for months, and the film ended up earning $8 million USD in its first year. Adjusted for inflation, it is still one of the top-grossing US films of all time.