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October 8

October 8, 1999 – The Documentary The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story Premieres in Los Angeles, California

“When you talk to people about the history of animation, you say, ‘Oh, and then Ub Iwerks…’ they go ‘Uh, Oob?…What kind of a name is that?’…it’s the name if the guy who first drew Mickey Mouse.” – John Lasseter

On October 8, 1999, The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story premiered in Los Angeles, California. Narrated by Kelsey Grammar, the documentary tells the oft untold story of one of the creators of Mickey Mouse: Ub Iwerks. It was directed and written by his granddaughter Leslie Iwerks, The documentary begins with how to the two worked to make Mickey Mouse, with Iwerks working overnight to create the character’s design.

The documentary takes us through Ub’s life story, beginning in Kansas City, Missouri, and his meeting with a young man named Walter Disney. The two became fast friends, and attempted to start their own business, but it wouldn’t last. Over the years, the two would work together many times, until they finally hit success with the Alice Comedies and Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, with Ub animating most of the cartoons. After losing their character and co-workers to Charles Mintz, the two created their new character in secret: Mickey Mouse. The success of Mickey Mouse surprised them, as did the success of the Silly Symphonies. The film also explores the breaking of the Disney Iwerks partnership, when Ub left to strike out on his own creatively, with his successes and failures, as well as the new inventions he created to add more life to his animations. Iwerks would return to Disney in 1940, this time in a technical capacity, and would be well known for his achievements in special effects.



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