Note: During the months of November and December, I will be posting something I am thankful for within the spectrum of Disney. With so much negativity in the world, I encourage everyone to be thankful and count their blessings.
Sometimes, its through the lowest points at life that inspiration strikes. Sometime those that appear to hurt us drive us more, and we ultimately grow, even thankful for the experience.
I thought I’d kick off this “Thankful For” series with a twist and touch of Disney history. For those unfamiliar with the name Charles B. Mintz, he was a film producer, distributor and husband of Margaret Winkler, who produced and distributed the Alice Comedies for Walt Disney. When Mintz married Winkler, he took assumed of her business. At his urging, Walt Disney and his animators created a new character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who became quite a hit with moviegoers back in the day. Most of you know the story from this point: Walt went to New York to negotiate a new contract with Mintz, was informed he’d be making less, that Oswald was not even his property to keep, and all animators save Ub Iwerks had been hired away to continue work on the Oswald shorts for Mintz and Universal. Due to this turn of events, Walt left New York determined to create a new character – one that would be his. Never again would he sign away the rights to any of his properties. Details on the creation of Mickey Mouse and that fateful train ride back to California vary (Disney historian Jim Korkis has a great new article on this exact subject worth checking out!), but one thing is certain: if Walt was determined and driven before this incident, his drive only increased at this point.
I truly believe the Walt Disney company would certainly look a lot different were it not for Walt losing the rights to a Lucky Rabbit, and we have Mr. Mintz to thank for this. While in Disney legend and lore it’s easy to vilify someone, truth is, Mr. Mintz was a businessman. He saw it as good business to cut costs on what essentially was company property. But in doing so, he fanned a flame. One that grew brighter with Mickey Mouse and only got stronger as the years past.
So, thank you, Charles B. Mintz for your role (albeit unintentional) in inspiring Walt to work harder, create more, and take control of his company. I know this Disney fan is grateful.