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Steamboat Willie

by Nicholas Sammond

Hagiographies of Walt Disney praise Steamboat Willie as the first sound cartoon...a claim that is at least four years off. More significantly, though, they often fail to note that Mickey Mouse performs a minstrel-show standard, "Old Zip Coon," on the bodies of the farm animals he is transporting on the paddlewheel steamer on which is a mate. In the days when minstrel shows were more common, Mickey's minstrel makeup and gloves, and his choice of music, would have more easily indicated that he was in fact a minstrel himself. Now it is less immediately obvious. Compare this cartoon to Mickey's Mellerdrammer (1934).

Steamboat Willie

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Disney's 1928 entry into sound chooses Zip Coon as its theme song.

from Vintage Mickey (1928)
Creator: Walt Disney Productions
Distributor: Walt Disney Productions
Posted by Nicholas Sammond