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Another Face Beneath The Mouse Ears - Ub Iwerks

April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 230

Everyone knows that Mickey Mouse has one of the most recognizable faces on the planet - even more so than Santa Claus. What's not as well-known is the face of his co-creator, Ub Iwerks. Though his name may seem hard to pronounce, it is less so than his birth name Ubbe Ert Iwwerks, a Frisian concoction bestowed on him by his loving parents who had emigrated from this region of northwest Germany. Frisian is the language most closely related to English on the planet. Nonetheless Ub's name twisted tongues in his native Kansas City, so after moving to California he changed it to the shortened version that we know him by today.

From Julius Caesar to Bill Gates, every great historical figure has legions of others supporting them, and Walt Disney is no exception. Though Walt enjoyed most of the fame that Steamboat Willy and thousands of later animations granted him, it is Ub who really invented the beloved character, sketching Mickey for his childhood friend-become-producer, who developed the character into the icon that it is today.

Initially the two worked together on various small projects, but their joint business venture, dubbed Iwerks-Disney, did not enjoy much success outside of its Laugh-O-Grams which did get some notice and resulted in invitations for more such work. Walt headed west to try his hand at live action films while Ub remained in Kansas City working at a steady job doing animations. When animation work started to come Walt's way, he called on Ub to come lend a hand.

Ub came through and after an unsuccessful bid by some New York producers to break up their team, the two came up with the Mickey Mouse character. Ub all but drew the first three animations featuring Mickey singlehandedly. His responsibilities grew along with his salary, and he spent quite some time working for a higher wage than anyone else at Disney Brothers studios, eventually becoming a producer and later a director, until one day another studio offered him twice the salary and Ub left Disney Brothers to work on some of the original Looney Toons productions. Three years later, he returned to Disney and worked mainly in special effects thereafter. He retired in 1965.

Ub is reported to never have harbored any resentment against Walt for getting the lion's share of the credit for the Mickey character. In his estimation what was important was what an animator did with the character, not who originated it. In the 1990s his granddaughter Leslie directed a documentary commemorating Ub's life and (I)works. Ub has been awarded several academy awards, and his studio (most famous for his character Flip the Frog) lives on, as does his memory.

Herb likes to write about Disney World. Please check out his website that contains Disney World Vacation information as well as Disney's All-Star Sports Resort information.

Source: EzineArticles
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