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Mickey, You Don't Look a Day Over 40!

This weekend is a great time to drag out that Mickey Mouse waffle-maker and dig around in the toy chest or the back of your closet for those souvenir Mickey Mouse ears. November 18 is Mickey's 78th birthday and after 120 cartoons, several TV shows, and thousands of public appearances as Chief Greeter at Disney theme parks around the world, the rambunctious rodent is still going strong.

Mickey Mouse's first on-screen role was in 1928, in Walt Disney's Steamboat Willie, the first cartoon with synchronized sound. Back then it was Walt Disney himself who provided Mickey's squeaks and noises. The evolution of the mouse's voice, and the ways in which Disney has used music to tell stories and create memories for generations, is told in Disney: The Music Behind the Magic, a new exhibit at Seattle's Experience Music Project (EMP).

In addition to viewing film clips and artifacts, including vintage Mickey Mouse Club outfits, visitors can create and record sound effects for the 1939 Mickey Mouse cartoon "The Band Concert" and re-mix tracks for several Disney songs. After a 10-month run in Seattle, the show will hit the road.

For fans who can't make it to EMP for Mickey's birthday, we have an audio clip from the exhibit. You might also enjoy the official and unofficial Web sites detailing Mickey's lifetime achievements, especially the site that tracks images of Mickey Mouse hidden in Disney resorts and theme parks around the world.

Harriet Baskas is a writer and radio producer who first met Mickey Mouse on a college road trip to Disney World. She contributes to member station KUOW in Seattle and to NPR.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.