Steamboat Willie

Last Updated on: January 20th, 2024

Steamboat Willie is a 1928 animated short film and one of the most significant works in the history of animation. It was directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks and produced by Walt Disney Productions. The film was the third Mickey Mouse cartoon to be produced, but it was the first to be publicly released, making it the debut of Mickey Mouse as a character.

Steamboat Willie follows the misadventures of Mickey Mouse, a cheerful and mischievous anthropomorphic mouse who works as a deckhand on a steamboat. The film is set to the tune of Steamboat Bill by Arthur Collins and Byron Gay, and it features synchronized sound, which was a relatively new concept at the time.

The film showcases the pioneering use of synchronized sound and depicts Mickey Mouse’s humorous encounters with various obstacles and challenges on the steamboat. It is known for its innovative animation techniques, expressive character animation, and memorable moments, including Mickey’s use of various objects as musical instruments.

Steamboat Willi” was a significant success and played a pivotal role in launching the career of Mickey Mouse. The film introduced audiences to the charming and charismatic character, and it helped establish Disney as a leading animation studio. It marked the beginning of a new era in animation, as synchronized sound became an integral part of the medium.

Today, Steamboat Willie is considered a milestone in animation history and remains a cherished part of Disney’s legacy. It symbolizes the start of Walt Disney’s enduring creation, Mickey Mouse, and its impact on the animation industry cannot be overstated.Steamboat Willie disney

Fun Facts

  • “Steamboat Willie” was released on November 18, 1928, and it marked the official debut of Mickey Mouse, created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. This date is now celebrated as Mickey Mouse’s birthday.
  • The cartoon is notable for being one of the first synchronized sound cartoons, featuring synchronized sound effects and a musical score. Mickey Mouse’s signature voice was provided by Walt Disney himself, making him an iconic character from the start.
  • The success of “Steamboat Willie” catapulted Mickey Mouse to stardom and paved the way for Disney’s domination of the animation industry. Mickey quickly became one of the most recognizable and beloved cartoon characters in the world.

Additional Details




  • Writers & Directors: Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney
  • Producers: Roy and Walt Disney

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About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other site isDMR.