Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (partially lost series of Walt Disney shorts; 1927-1928)
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit is a series of short cartoons made from 1927 to 1928 by Walt Disney and from 1928 to 1943 by a variety of animators under Universal Studios. After the failure of his Laugh-O-Grams and Lafflets, and the minor success of the Alice Comedies, Walt Disney wanted to compete with stronger cartoon characters of the era like Felix the Cat. After successfully pitching Oswald, Winkler Pictures gave him a talented animation staff and a budget.
Walt began production on the shorts in 1927. Oswald was well received and became the first Disney character to have his own tie-in merchandise. Oswald's success over the competition was due to the more ambitious, innovative, and raunchy animation and humor compared to the others, which tended to be more conservative and safe. Despite the success of the series, after 27 shorts, the budget was cut by more than half and nearly half of Walt's animation team was moved to other projects. Disney soon quit working at Winkler and starting his own animation studio with some of his most talented Oswald staff. Having lost the rights to Oswald, Disney proceeded to create a new character named Mickey Mouse.
After Disney left Winkler, Oswald's shorts were animated by many rising animation legends, such as a young Tex Avery. Oswald cartoons eventually featured color and sound but was ultimately discontinued in 1943 due to a fall in popularity. Those shorts are still owned by Universal. In addition, a few Oswald cartoons were remade into Mickey Mouse cartoons by Disney.
In 2005, when Oswald's copyright expired, Universal (which had distributed the Winkler shorts) gave the Walt Disney company the rights to Disney's original Oswald shorts. A DVD collection was released in 2007 as part of the Walt Disney Treasures line, containing 13 of the original 27 shorts. Several more shorts appeared in some form over the next few years.
The shorts Poor Papa and Africa Before Dark were included as bonus features on The Walt Disney Signature Collection Blu-Rays of Pinocchio and Bambi. Two minutes of a further short, Neck 'n Neck, was discovered in Japan in 2018, and these two minutes were leaked in 2019.
Six of the original Oswald shorts made by Disney are currently missing. Three others are incomplete. (Oh Teacher was reissued in 1932, and this reissued version is the only one that survives at the moment.) Many shorts past the Disney era are lost as well, but these are less likely to be found due to them being even more obscure than the Disney shorts.
|#||Short Title||Year Produced||Status|
|3||Oh Teacher||1927||Partially Lost|
|4||The Mechanical Cow||1927||Found|
|7||The Ocean Hop||1927||Partially Lost|
|8||The Banker's Daughter||1927||Lost|
|12||Neck 'n' Neck||1928||Partially Found|
|13||The Ol' Swimmin' Hole (The Ole Swimmmin' 'Ole)*||1928||Found|
|14||Africa Before Dark||1928||Found|
|18||Ride 'Em Plowboy||1928||Lost|
|19||Ozzie of the Mounted||1928||Found|
|21||Oh, What a Knight||1928||Found|
|22||The Sky Scrapper (Sky Scrappers)||1928||Found|
|23||The Fox Chase||1928||Found|
(*) While reels of these films are known to exist, they are not currently available for public viewing.
- Poor Papa, the first Oswald short.
- Oswald series overview on the Disney Wikia. Retrieved 25 Mar '16
- A brief history of on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
- One of the later Oswald cartoons.
- The last regular Oswald cartoon by Universal, The Egg Cracker Case.
- Mickey Mouse cartoon, Building a Building
- Oswald cartoon, The Sky Scrapper.
- Disney site promoting the Oswald DVD.
- The Pinocchio Signature Collection Blu-ray.
- The Bambi Signature Collection Blu-ray.
- Article on the discovery of Neck 'n Neck in Japan.
- Oswald's filmography, including the Disney shorts