The mouse's former moniker doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

By Michelle Darrisaw
October 19, 2017

There's a popular phrase believed to be coined by William Shakespeare: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well, in the case of Disney's most famous cartoon character, a mouse called by any other name wouldn't sound quite as nice. Before the gloved mouse melted our hearts in classic Disney films and television shows, he was given another name: Mortimer Mouse.

The story of how Mortimer came to be is an interesting one, and it all started with two brothers who dared to dream big—and fail. The Walt Disney Company, as we know it today, was originally called the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio. Founded by brothers Walt and Roy O. Disney in 1923, it was later named Walt Disney Studios. While Walt was busy creating animated shorts and Roy was handling the finances at the company, they endured a lot of mishaps along the way. One major setback, in particular, was with Universal Pictures in 1928, where Walt discovered he lost the rights to his first animated creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. According to, after bouncing back from the devastating situation, Walt quickly got to work developing his next big-eared creation—Mortimer Mouse.

Fortunately for us Disney fans, the name didn't last long. Although many theories have circulated online as to why Mortimer was scrapped, rumor has it that it was Walt's wife, Lillian, who suggested the moniker change. But that wasn't the last we heard of Mortimer. Walt actually brought the name and character back when he created Mickey's Rival in 1936. The Disney short pitted Mickey Mouse against longtime nemesis Mortimer Mouse, whose claim to fame was his short-lived attempts to steal Minnie Mouse away from her beloved companion.

As for the old myth floating around that a previous version of Mickey Mouse appeared in the 1928 short film Steamboat Willie, we're here to clear up the misconception. He definitely appeared in the film, but his name wasn't Mickey. Instead, he was developed as a satirical character named Willie to honor the silent comedy film, Steamboat Bill, Jr.

Now that you're more informed on the wonderful world of Disney and its starring character, here's some trivia to test your knowledge on all things Disney World.