Did You Lose an Important Opportunity That You Think Won’t Come Back? Don’t Believe It. Walt Disney and Oswald Didn’tMay 30, 2012
Did you ever lose an important opportunity, and think it couldn’t come back? I don’t recommend that we buy into this type of thinking. My Oma didn’t, and neither did Walt Disney.
At times, there may seem to be an injustice. But we can hold to the fact that it is temporary. We don’t have to accept that any injustice is permanent. If the motive is pure, then a principle of being in the universe kicks in to help us.
I know this to be true about my Oma, my beloved grandmother and the first woman woodwind at the Julliard School of Music. In 1937, she was refused an audition with the Philharmonic, being told that women didn’t play there. But 25 years later, she tried again. And she made it. She persevered, and the block on her progress was eventually null.
In the first quarter of the 1900s, a beautifully funny character from Walt Disney, named Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, graced our movies and comics. Yet Walt Disney didn’t own the rights to the character; when a contract re-negotiation offered him only 20% of the royalties, he decided to leave his position, and character, behind.
Yet nearly 80 years later, what Walt Disney had to give up was restored. Oswald was reacquired by the Disney Corporation, and is now featured in modern-day Disney video games. The right idea was restored to its right place and right owner.
And in no small side benefit, Disney had also created the famous Mickey Mouse character – on the trainride back from losing the rights to Oswald! Without having to give up Oswald, Walt Disney might never have created Mickey. So it’s a double positive, and, he didn’t have to wait. A new character, our beloved Mickey, was immediately brought to inspired thought.
A setback is an opportunity. A seeming injustice will not last. Stay calm, firm and true in doing the right thing. Kindly pursue your vision, producing something that is good and helpful to the world. The seeming injustice will be arighted, and in the meantime, you haven’t “sat on your hands” as my Oma used to say. You’ve used this time to bring in more good, creativity and joy to the world.
Enjoy the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit story below. Now, let’s go about cherishing the Oswalds of our lives, knowing they will find their right place; at the same time, let’s move forward to create our unique Mickeys.
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was a character created by Walt Disney in 1927, as part of a contract for Universal Studios, through distributor Charles Mintz. Disney created a series of short cartoons starring Oswald, who became his most successful character up to that point. In 1928, Disney went to New York to re-negotiate his contract with Mintz. He was offered only a 20% cut, and decided to end his work with Mintz. He didn’t have any personal rights to Oswald, so this meant giving up the character. However, famously, he came up with the idea for Mickey Mouse on the train ride back from New York.
Oswald was one of the first cartoon characters with a striking personality, using humor and ingenuity to get what he wanted. He was inspired in part by Douglas Fairbanks’ character’s courage and sense of adventure.
Mintz continued producing Oswald cartoons for the next two years, before being replaced by Walter Lantz. Lantz spoke to Disney at this point; Mickey Mouse was already more popular than Oswald, and Disney gave Lantz his blessing to use Oswald. Lantz continued creating Oswald cartoons over the next decade. The character stars in 194 films total. Mickey appears in 130 films, nine of which were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, as well as appearing in comic strips, comic books, video games, and of course as the major brand of Disney.
Oswald also appeared in comic books in the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s, with international comics continuing through the end of the 20th century.
In 2006, the Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as part of a series of deals with Universal. Oswald recently appeared in a video game franchise called Epic Mickey, where he rules over a Disneyland-parody called Wasteland, the land of forgotten cartoon characters.