Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, or simply Oswald, is an anthropomorphic rabbit and the first cartoon mascot created by Walt Disney.
The Walt Disney Era
After the Alice Comedies, Disney's second animated series (after the Laugh-o-Grams), folded up in 1927, Carl Laemmle approached Disney and requested a new all-animated series featuring a rabbit. Disney and Ub Iwerks created a new character called "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit". The first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, was poorly received by Charles Mintz and he demanded a better, younger version of Oswald. The next cartoon, Trolley Troubles, was well-received and the series was officially launched.
In 1928, with the series going strong, Disney demanded an increased budget from Mintz, which he refused. Mintz instead told Disney that he was going to cut the budget and if Disney did not agree to the cut, Mintz would take Oswald for himself. Disney refused and most of Disney's employees left to go work for Mintz. Only Ub Iwerks and Les Clark remained, who, along with Walt, secretly created a new cartoon star to replace Oswald — Mickey Mouse, who became the most legendary cartoon icon in the world, which is what would've been Oswald's position.
Meanwhile, over at Universal, Oswald's popularity and appearances in films would diminish with every passing year until the character fell into obscurity and was ultimately forgotten by the public and possibly Universal itself.
Return to Disney
In 2002, an episode of House of Mouse called "Dennis the Duck" inspired Disney to get Oswald back from Universal. Over the years, they had tried to get Oswald back through many attempts, but kept failing.
In 2006, the Walt Disney Company finally got back the rights to Oswald through a trade with sportscaster Al Michaels after over 80 years. To celebrate Oswald's triumphant return to the company, a line of special merchandise was released at Disney Stores nationwide and a Walt Disney Treasures DVD set was released compiling all of the surviving Disney-produced Oswald cartoons.
In his current revival, Oswald is portrayed as being rough, spiteful, resentful, bitter, cold and short-tempered around anyone he doesn't trust. Being forgotten for over 80 years made him very cynical (and quite selfish) about his life, mainly due to how no one remembers him. He has sympathy for others who suffer fates similar to his.
He especially harbored a strong jealousy and hatred towards his "brother", whom he blamed for ruining his life. Oswald appeared to have a strong attachment to Walt to the point that he had a replica of his statue built in Wasteland, viewing him as a fatherly figure. Unfortunately, Walt's apparent favor towards Mickey would contribute further to Oswald's bitterness. It takes someone with a strong will to earn his trust. Beneath his harsh and cold exterior, however, lies a saddened, miserable and hurt character who just wants to be loved again by the hearts of millions. His time with Mickey helped him realize how Mickey cares about him despite their differences and the glory Mickey (unknowingly) stole from him for so long, allowing Oswald to drop his grudge and accept Mickey as his brother since it is what Walt would have wanted. It also makes him realize that it's not how many people that love you, but it's the people themselves.
Besides being rather grumpy, Oswald mirrors Mickey in many ways. He is quite mischievous, adventurous and never escapes trouble, but finds his way out through cunning and wit. He loves to play and make others laugh, but still has morals despite his flaws and always tries to do the right thing. He will attempt to do what's best for his family and friends, even if there are risks involved. Though he doesn't appear to be, Oswald can be quite friendly if he wants to. His love for Ortensia is just as strong as Mickey's love for Minnie.
Oswald's Disney shorts filmography
- Poor Papa
- Trolley Troubles
- Oh Teacher
- The Mechanical Cow
- Great Guns
- All Wet
- The Ocean Hop
- The Banker's Daughter
- Empty Socks
- Rickety Gin
- Harem Scarem
- Neck 'n' Neck
- The Ol' Swimmin' Hole
- Africa Before Dark
- Rival Romeos
- Bright Lights
- Oh What A Knight
- Sagebrush Sadie
- Ride'em Plow Boy
- Sky Scrappers
- Ozzie of the Mounted
- Hungry Hobos
- The Fox Chase
- Tall Timber
- Sleigh Bells
- Hot Dog
- Get A Horse! (cameo)
In Oswald's first, official short, Poor Papa, he was a considerably older rabbit with a far more aggressive attitude. While the short was poorly received, it was significant in introducing Oswald's children, who would later reappear in Trolley Troubles and Oh, Teacher. As mentioned above, the following short, Trolley Troubles, was the first to showcase the Oswald the world knows today.
He was portrayed as a small, rather mischievous rabbit, often finding himself in trouble. He would always be saved, however, through his luck (hence the name). He was also shown to have the ability to disassemble his body parts at will, as seen when he literally detached his leg and kissed it for good luck. This trait would carry on to later incarnations.
Like many classic Disney characters, some stories revolving the rabbit would center wooing a love interest. Oswald's original love interest was named Fanny; a sultry rabbit. She would later be replaced by a cat named Ortensia in The Bankers Daughter.
Before he was introduced to Mickey, the infamous Pete was an enemy of Oswald's. The two were bigger rivals, often at odds for varying reasons, though Oswald would always come out on top, due to he impressive strokes of luck.
He can be seen in the obituaries in the short Sock Burglar.
Christmas Greeting Card short
Disney of Japan released a small Christmas short with Oswald and Ortensia online for the holidays. Creating the first new pure Oswald animation since his return to Disney. The story simply revolved around Oswald hiking up a mountaintop to visit Ortensia for Christmas.
Cameos and other appearances
Oswald makes a cameo appearance near the end of this short, waving to the audience from the bottom right side of the screen when Mickey and the gang all rejoice at Pete's defeat when Minnie drives Pete's car through.
This was Oswald's first appearance in a Disney animation production in more than 84 years. However, Oswald's cameo was so well hidden that it was not noticed by the public that Oswald even appeared in the short until this fact was announced by Jerry Beck on his Facebook page in a post made on September 28, 2013.
A stamp of Oswald appears briefly on the abandoned subway train Doug operates in. This was also shown and confirmed in The Art of Zootopia.
Oswald is one of the main characters in the Nintendo Wii video game Epic Mickey. In the game, he is the ruler of The Wasteland—a world where forgotten, rejected and retired Disney creations reside. Working with the Mad Doctor, he constructs robotic Beetleworx as a construction crew for his Disneyland-inspired vision. But then, an accident caused by Mickey Mouse early in his career creates a monstrous Shadow Blot that brings the Wasteland into ruins. The Mad Doctor then betrays Oswald and sides with the Blot. After a long battle, Oswald and his wife Ortensia seal the Blot inside a large jug at the top of Mickeyjunk Mountain, but at the cost of Ortensia's life.
Ever since, Oswald remains at the mountain to guard the jug while nursing his hatred towards Mickey for having stolen the life and career that could have been his. When Mickey arrives, Oswald ends up reluctantly helping him on his quest to get out of Wasteland by refurbishing the Moonliner rocket in Tomorrow City, although Oswald is implied to be tempted to remove Mickey's heart and leave him in Wasteland, so Oswald can become a big star again.
After defeating the fake Shadow Blot at the summit of Mickeyjunk Mountain, Mickey reveals that he is responsible for the Thinner Disaster and the Blot and an extremely furious Oswald accidentally releases the real Blot, who steals Mickey's heart and begins to destroy Wasteland. The two decide to use the rocket to attack the Blot, only to land in Dark Beauty Castle, where the plans change to using fireworks to do the job.
The Blot ends up consuming Oswald, Mickey, and Gremlin Gus and the three have to fight the Blot from the inside. Oswald is stuck to the Blot's walls but is freed by Mickey. He catches Mickey's released heart but takes a good look at it, then, though a bit reluctantly, gives it back to Mickey, and launches the fireworks, which destroys the Blot once and for all. In doing so, Oswald is the real hero; he gives back Mickey's heart in the end, and then saves the day. The impact causes Oswald and Ortensia to crash back to Mean Street, and causes Mickey to leave Wasteland. In the shower of Paint that results from the explosion, Wasteland is restored and Ortensia is revived, helping to seal Mickey and Oswald's friendship and perhaps even extending into a true brotherhood.
Originally, Oswald was to play a far more negative role. He was meant to be the main antagonist during the game's early stages. He and the Blot were originally going to combine and become the Storm Blot, but this was soon dropped and Oswald eventually became an anti-hero with a boss battle before finally settling down to deuteragonist because the producers didn't want to reintroduce him to the world this way.
In the sequel to Epic Mickey, the Mad Doctor returns to Wasteland, claiming to have reformed and offering to help protect the world against a new threat in the form of natural disasters. Oswald teams up with Mickey to save the day once again. To aid Mickey, Oswald has a remote that can defeat or redeem enemies with electricity, like Mickey's paint. Oswald's remote can turn Beetleworx into allies, and power machines. Oswald's other powers are the use of his ears as a helicopter to float and to remove his arm and use it as a boomerang to get items or hit things and enemies.
Oswald appears in the game to Mickey as he re-enters Wasteland. Because Mizrabel was forgotten, she brought Castle Illusion to Wasteland to drain the currently famous characters and threatens Wasteland's safety as well, and had kidnapped Minnie to lure Mickey in. In the game, Oswald monitors the hub stations as parts of the castle break away to inform Mickey of the captured toons and locate Mizrabel herself.
Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland
- "He's got it all! Friends who admire him! A girl who adores him. 420 kids who want him to play with them! Detachable feet that can be rubbed strenuously to give him an extra boost of luck! So why can't Oswald, Disney's first cartoon star, put Mickey Mouse and the outside world into his rearview mirror? Why can't he just focus on Wasteland, the amazing world he's rebuilding into his image? Could it be that the luckiest rabbit in Wasteland simply doesn't know how lucky he is? It almost makes you wonder what kind of disaster would have to hit to make him appreciate everything he's got. Let's hope he never finds out!"
- ~Oswald's Tales of Wasteland profile
Oswald is the main character in the Wasteland (digi)comics. These comics are a prequel to Epic Mickey and takes place before the Thinner Disaster.
As the main character, he appears in all six of them. He and his Animatronic pals try to clean the Clock Tower in "Clock Tower Cleaners" and tries to spend a night in Lonesome Manor because Pete dared him in "One Scary Night". He gets his feet stolen in "The Game's Afoot", fiercely competes with Horace in "The Rubbish Cup", visits the Mad Doctor with Ortensia and tries many different personas to regain his popularity in "Oswald the Lucky Duck" and tries to escape Wasteland in "There's a Hole in the Sky".
Oswald is quite adventurous, friendly and competitive in the comics. He is quick to take up a challenge and prove his worth, but also believes most people don't care for him and see him as an out of date version of Mickey. The Mad Doctor tries to trick Oswald for his evil plans. Oswald loves Ortensia and their Bunny Children and seems to be good friends with Horace Horsecollar. He also takes his Animatronic pals with him on many adventures.
Disney Epic Mickey: The Graphic Novel is included in the Epic Mickey: Tales of Wasteland digicomics. It's a 64 page-long graphic retelling of Epic Mickey. Oswald plays a similar role like in the game and is one of the main characters. However, it's not exact. Some events of the game are arranged in a different order and are either expanded upon or cut down. For example: The scene where Oswald and Ortensia seal the Blot is expanded upon while many quests are skipped.
Just Like Magic!
The Norwegian "En magisk jul!" (translated as "A Magical Christmas!") marks the first Oswald and Ortensia appearance in modern Disney comics outside of the Epic Mickey universe. Written by David Gerstein and drawn by Mark Kausler, it is based and takes place in the times of the classic Oswald shorts from 1927 and 1928. It was printed in America under the title "Just Like Magic!" in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #726.
A hungry Oswald and Toby Bear see Ortensia and her rich banker father, J. P. Whiskers, standing before a house where various foods are being brought in for J. P. Whiskers's Christmas dinner party. Oswald uses his charm and asks Ortensia if he and Toby can join them. A charmed Ortensia seems willing, but Oswald and Ortensia are quickly interrupted by Ortensia 's little brother Homer the Cat. The small bratty cat drags Ortensia inside while Whiskers lectures Oswald and slams the door in his face.
Still wanting to join Ortensia and the party, The hungry rabbit tries to prove his good luck as a disguised Oswald and Toby sneak into J. P. Whiskers's Christmas dinner party by impersonating a man they think is the head waiter. But the "waiter" was really a hired magician, so Oswald is forced to put on a magic show with a genuine, very powerful magic hat.
An Imaginary Friend
Prior to 2014, Oswald did not make any live appearances at the parks, due to the company having had no ownership of him for decades. After Disney reacquired the character in 2006, his likeness has become a semi-common part of the parks.
For Tokyo Disneyland's Disney's Easter Wonderland, Oswald was the inspiration for a float.
During the Disney California Adventure expansion, Oswald appeared in a mural depicting him and several of his fellow classic Disney characters working as a construction crew. Also in the park, a souvenir shop called "Oswald's Filling Station" opened with Buena Vista Street in 2012.
Clothing, toys, pins and other merchandise items featuring Oswald have since been made available in the parks as well.
Oswald finally made his first appearance as a meetable character at Tokyo DisneySea, starting on April 1, 2014. On September 14 of that year, Oswald began making meet-and-greet appearances on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure park, though he first debuted in that park on September 4.
- Despite Oswald's origins being a hand drawn black and white character for Universal Studios, Oswald's first appearance for cinema within the ownership of Walt Disney Motion Pictures is in a CG format (Get A Horse!).
- In the Bonkers comics, there is a character named Nimrod the Rabbit, a comedian and keeper of the Toonstone, who is very similar to Oswald.
- Fourteen years prior to Epic Mickey, Oswald's video game debut was in a Sega Master System game titled Woody Woodpecker's Frustrated Vacation, released only in Brazil in 1996. This game notably marked Oswald's final appearance in his Walter Lantz design.
- If Oswald wasn't bought by Universal, he would've had Mickey's life as the most popular cartoon character in the world.
- Oswald has black fur and blue shorts, but in some appearances in Japan, he has blue fur and yellow shorts.
- Oswald's Japanese appearance may have inspired the character design for the Bunny Children, as each Bunny Child is blue in color.
- Despite having a different appearance in Japan, his usual design can still be seen there, as the Oswald float (in Tokyo Disney Land's Disney Easter Wonderland event) still have his original design and his design wasn't changed in the Japanese release of Epic Mickey.
- Oswald's name is also different in Japanese, as he is called Oswald Rabbit instead of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
- Since 1943, Oswald was voiced by June Foray. He had been voiced by Bill Nolan, Pinto Colvig, and Mickey Rooney, and is now voiced by Frank Welker.
- Unused concept art by Disney artist Kevin Nelson for Wreck-It Ralph had Oswald being proposed as a racer for Sugar Rush.
- Oswald's page on the Epic Mickey wiki
- Oswald's page with list of Oswald shorhs on The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts
- Oswald 's Disney Epic Mickey 2 website desciption.
- Oswald's page on Wikipedia