1st Draft of Disney's Iconic 'Steamboat Willie' Script up for Auction | NBC New York
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1st Draft of Disney's Iconic 'Steamboat Willie' Script up for Auction

"It was gone for almost 20 years, and it was thought to be destroyed"



    Courtesy of S/R Laboratories
    Some pages in the "Steamboat Willie" script have sketches of Mickey Mouse and the steamboat to guide animators. This first draft of the script was copyrighted May 19, 1928.

    If you've watched a Disney film lately, you're probably familiar with a little clip that plays before the movie even starts featuring Mickey Mouse, whistling along as he operates a steamboat. You can probably even hear the little tune he is whistling in your head right now.

    The origin of that short clip comes from the first cartoon Mickey was ever featured in called "Steamboat Willie." Now, the script for the once-considered long lost first draft of that iconic cartoon will go to the highest-paying Disney fan at an auction in late October. 

    The "Steamboat Willie" script is being offered by S/R Labs in a phone auction Oct. 24. The minimum bid is $300,000.

    "Steamboat Willie" is not just famous for introducing Disney's character of Mickey Mouse. It was also the first cartoon to have sound.

    S/R Labs did not come by this draft easily. While the second draft has been the property of Disney for a long time, the first draft had been missing for decades.

    "It was gone for almost 20 years, and it was thought to be destroyed," said Ron Stark, director of S/R Laboratories Animation Art Conservation Center.

    The cartoon also gave Disney Studio a new iconic character after the studio lost its rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

    The script is copyrighted May 19, 1928, by Walt Disney Productions and lists Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney as co-authors on the cover. Other pages in the script have sketches of both Mickey and the steamboat.

    Accompanying the script is a notarized statement of authenticity from David Iwerks, Ub Iwerks' son, who worked at the Disney studios for many years. He is an authority on his father's work and spent over a year and a half verifying the script, according to S/R Labs.

    The typewriter used to type the script has also been verified as from that time period by the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners.

    The draft of "Steamboat Willie" and accompanying documents are available for viewing at the S/R Laboratories offices by appointment.