Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (partially lost series of Walt Disney shorts; 1927-1928)

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OzzieEnd 3174.jpg

Oswald ending card from the Disney era.

Status: Partially Lost

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.

Background

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.[1] 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,[2] 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[3]. 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.[4] In addition, a few Oswald cartoons were remade into Mickey Mouse cartoons by Disney.[5][6]

Rediscovery

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 2006 containing 13 of the original 27 shorts.[7] Several more shorts appeared in some form over the next few years.

In 2007 the current existing Oswald shorts (only the ones Walt Disney produced) at the time were released in the "Walt Disney Treasures" line of DVDs. 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.[8][9] Two minutes of a further short, Neck 'n Neck, was discovered in Japan in 2018.[10]

Six of the original Oswald shorts made by Disney are currently missing. Four others are incomplete.[11]

Theatrical Shorts

# Short Title Year Produced Status
1 Poor Papa 1927 Found
2 Trolley Troubles 1927 Found
3 Oh Teacher 1927 Partially Lost
4 The Mechanical Cow 1927 Found
5 Great Guns! 1927 Found
6 All Wet 1927 Found
7 The Ocean Hop 1927 Partially Lost
8 The Banker's Daughter 1927 Lost
9 Empty Socks* 1927 Found
10 Rickety Gin 1927 Lost
11 Harem Scarem 1928 Lost
12 Neck 'n' Neck* 1928 Partially Lost
13 The Ol' Swimmin' Hole* 1928 Found
14 Africa Before Dark 1928 Found
15 Rival Romeos 1928 Found
16 Bright Lights 1928 Found
17 Sagebrush Sadie 1928 Lost
18 Ride 'Em Plowboy 1928 Lost
19 Ozzie of the Mounted 1928 Partially Lost
20 Hungry Hoboes 1928 Found
21 Oh, What a Knight 1928 Found
22 Sky Scrappers 1928 Found
23 The Fox Chase 1928 Found
24 Tall Timber 1928 Found
25 Sleigh Bells* 1928 Found
26 Hot Dog 1928 Lost
27 High Up* 1928 Found

(*) While reels of these films are known to exist, they are not currently available for public viewing.

See Also

References