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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 November, 2003, 18:06 GMT
Mickey Mouse celebrates 75th year
Mickey Mouse statue unveiling
Artists, athletes and actors designed the 75 6ft statues
Celebrations marking the 75th birthday of cartoon legend Mickey Mouse have been taking place around the world.

Seventy-five statues measuring six feet have been unveiled at Walt Disney World in Florida.

A set of US postage stamps is being issued bearing Mickey's image, and his classic films are being re-released.

Mickey, created by a young Walt Disney during a train journey, was first seen on 18 November 1928 in a screening of Steamboat Willie in New York City.

The Disneyworld statues, unveiled by Disney chairman and chief executive Michael Eisner, were designed by entertainment figures including John Travolta and Sir Elton John, and tennis player Andre Agassi.


Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris joined in the fun

In the UK, leading fashion designers including Paul Smith and Julien Macdonald are dressing limited edition Mickey figures at London department store Selfridges in aid of charity.

And Japanese fans joined Mickey and Minnie at the Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, east of Tokyo, for the first of the worldwide celebrations.

Mickey's success was the catalyst for Disney's multi-billion dollar entertainment empire which now encompasses resorts and theme parks, films, TV shows, DVDs and merchandising.

He has appeared in more than 140 films, in comic books and on a vast range of products, from watches and toys to pyjamas.

Chances are, if you talk to a four-year-old or a 70-year-old anywhere in the world, they consider Mickey a special friend
Michael Eisner, Disney chairman and CEO
"No other single character has remained in the limelight like Mickey, no other single character has been at the definitive forefront of a global entertainment company, no other single character has such timeless, ageless appeal," said Mr Eisner.

Next year Mickey is adapting to the digital age with the release of Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas using computer-generated imagery (CGI), which is due to go straight to video.

Mickey was launched upon the world during the heady jazz age of the 1920s and was considered a bit of a rascal.

His partner Minnie Mouse has been with him since the beginning.

First words

There is something magical about this mouse
Karl, Northants, UK

It was several years after his debut that Mickey began to speak, with Walt Disney providing the character's original voice.

In the late 1930s Mickey was given a make-over with his ears and face becoming rounder and given a less subversive nature.

Very quickly the popularity of Mickey Mouse swept the world with the character becoming as big a corporate symbol as Coca Cola.

Japanese fans were the first to join the party
The Mickey Mouse Club television show, which began in 1955, ensured young children were introduced to the cartoon star.

Perky presenters along the way have included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, who all donned the famous mouse ears to perform sketches and music.

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