Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald are known the world over... but how much can you say about all the other supporting characters seen in the background of their shorts? Each month in our new Unusual Suspects series, we will examine one character from a classic film or series, which may not shine as brightly as the main characters, but still plays a distinct role in the story as a whole. As we celebrate Mickey Mouse throughout March with our Mickey Mouse-a-thon screenings, we take a look at a character whose reputation—and name—precedes him: Mortimer Mouse!
November 18, 1928 officially marks the debut of Mickey Mouse. From day one, he was given a nemesis to contend with. He was not given a rival, however, until 1936.
The short Mickey’s Rival introduced the world to the character of Mortimer Mouse, Mickey’s would-be namesake. Mortimer had little in common with Walt’s alter ego, with two exceptions: his last name, and a romantic interest in Minnie Mouse.
While Mickey was short, clumsy, and earnest, Mortimer was tall, glib, and arrogant. Mortimer had whiskers, a much more pronounced snout, and two prominent front teeth that were close together; leading many to remark he looked more like a rat than a mouse. His behavior did little to discourage that notion.
In his debut, Mortimer crashes a lovely picnic Mickey and Minnie were enjoying. It’s quickly apparent that Mortimer used to date Minnie, since upon seeing her he remarks, “Well, if it ain’t my old sweetie, Minnie Mouse!” Minnie initially enjoys the attention, much to Mickey’s chagrin. That soon changes when Mortimer’s antics aggravate a free-ranging bull, and puts Minnie’s life in danger. Mortimer immediately flees, leaving our hero Mickey (and his car) to save the day.
Like Mickey’s enemy Pete, Mortimer also has a few aliases. He has been referred to as “Mr. Slicker” and “Montmorency Rodent” in different comics. And while Mortimer has made several appearances in print, he didn’t appear onscreen again until 1999’s Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas. Voiced by actor Jeff Bennett, Mortimer once again foils Minnie when as her employer, hands over a fruitcake instead of money for her Christmas bonus.
Mortimer enjoyed somewhat of a reemergence after 1999’s Christmas, appearing in multiple shorts throughout the 2000s. He even reprised his role as “Minnie’s pursuer” in 2000’s Mickey’s Rival Returns, this time voiced by Maurice LaMarche. Mortimer also enjoyed a brief stint in video games in 2002-2003, appearing in a series of sports-related titles released by Disney Interactive (voiced by Jim Meskimen).
While we haven’t heard from Mortimer in a few years, he did make a brief appearance on the construction walls in Disney California Adventure during the recent addition of Buena Vista Street. Knowing his slick nature, and catch phrase of, “Ha-cha-cha,” odds are it won’t be long until we see him again, probably still chasing after Mickey’s girl.
Keith Gluck is a WDFM volunteer, writer/editor for thedisneyproject.com, and lifelong student of Disney. His Disney life started early, visiting Disneyland before turning one, and writing his very first book report on a Walt Disney biography for kids.