Steamboat Willie or Mortimer Mouse?

The original poster for the film - I think it speaks for itself.

The original poster for the film - I think it speaks for itself.

As a bit of a Disney nerd, I decided to participate in a round of Disney trivia this week at a local bar. With questions such as, “what company purchased ABC in 1996,” it certainly wasn’t a head-scratching evening – however there was one question in particular that became somewhat of a standout controversy.

“What was Mickey Mouse’s original name?”

Yeah, only a group of Disney… let’s call them enthusiasts… could find such a question controversial, right? Well, the issue wasn’t the question so much as the people asking the question. You’d think that the leaders of any trivia contest would do their research before asking a question, because honestly otherwise what’s the point? My team even debated whether or not the leaders would in fact know the right answer or if we should gamble and write down the answer they probably thought was right.

It turns out we should have gone with our instincts. During the answer round, it was announced that Mickey’s original name was “Steamboat Willie.” No. That’s practicing Disney ignorance. Mickey Mouse was in a movie named “Steamboat Willie” in 1928 – named only as a parody of as a parody of Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill” (cartoons in the early 1900s were more about parodying social media for purposes of entertainment and political agenda than they are today – see: South Park). In fact, Mickey Mouse had already appeared in films before this well-known short.

The correct answer – “Mortimer Mouse.” This name was endowed upon the now-famous rodent by Walt Disney himself, until his wife convinced him to change it to something more aesthetically pleasing. After pulling up wikipedia on my iPhone, I was able to prove to the trivia leaders that they had been “misinformed.” They did concede and give the point back to my team, however they did not take the point away from the other number of teams that were also misinformed, and thus we came in at 3rd place. Only 1st and 2nd place yield prizes, so we walked home empty-handed, wondering if Mickey’s pride was even worth saving that night.

Your comments are welcomed below, and indeed might make me feel better about the chaos that was that evening’s trivia night.

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6 comments to Steamboat Willie or Mortimer Mouse?

  • Edgar

    Teacher asked for extra credit “What year did Steamboat Willy’s name change to Mickey Mouse?” And im like steamboat was a movie tho.

  • kippy jr.

    i knew his original name was mortimer mouse all the time

  • Bob Wilson


  • Erin Burckhard

    Too funny, actually referenced this page during trivia this week because we were having a heated debate about Mickey’s original name… boy were they all mad when I whipped this page out and read them the judgement LoL :D thanks for proving me right haha!

  • Courtney

    I missed out on a 10% discount at the coffe house today because this exact same thing! I told the guy he should look it up…it’s actually Mortimer and “Steamboat Willie” was the movie he starred ins

  • Joey

    What?! I can’t believe that! How embarrassing for them! As I was reading this I was starting to wonder if there was another name that I did not know about. I thought it was obvious but I consider myself a Disney nerd so…

    Anyway, I just found your blog and I am enjoying so far! Thanks for sharing!