Mousecars and Ducksters
Until about six months ago I had no idea that the most coveted awards handed out by Walt Disney were small statues of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. "Mousecars" and "Ducksters"
Last October Carol and I had the good fortunate to be at Walt Disney World in October when the final D23 Fanniversary session was held there, at the Atlantic Dance Hall. Although she has been a D23 member for several years, this was our first event. Our hosts, Billy from Burbank CA and Kevin from Syracuse NY, shared plenty of pictures and "insider" information during their two-hour presentation.
They talked about the many Disney anniversaries happening during the year, starting with four attractions from the 1964 New York World's Fair (Carousel of Progress, Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, It's A Small World and The Magic Skyway) and worked their way through to the most recent events, such as the previous day's announcement that the big Sorcerer's Hat would be leaving Disney's Hollywood Studios.
They used slide shows, music and video to illustrate the "insider" stories they told us, and we were shown some video clips that have never before been publicly aired. There were some funny bloopers by Walt Disney as he recorded segments for the Disneyland Show in the late 1950's and a very touching interview with Julie Andrews when she described working with Walt on the Mary Poppins movie.
For me, the highlight of the day was the Duckster they brought with them. Billy donned white cotton gloves and carefully cradled the rare artefact while we took pictures of it.
This small statuette of Donald Duck was presented by Walt and the Disney Corporation to those who gave exemplary service. It must have been a true honor to be awarded a Duckster!
The other award, the original, is the Mousecar. The name, as you have probably figured out, is a play-on-words, a combination of the words Mouse and Oscar. The first Mousecar was presented in 1947 by Walt Disney to his brother Roy.
Here's how Disney Historian and Archivist Dave Smith explained it in the Summer 2004 Issue of Disney Magazine.
As Dave said, there are no accurate records of how many Mousecars have been awarded and who received them, but here is a list I was able to compile with a quick internet search. I cannot guarantee its accuracy!
Mousecar recipients: Louis Armstrong, Bernie Cobb, Marc Davis, Roy P. Disney, Amanda Fogelberg, Kathie Lee Gifford, Manuel Gonzales, Floyd Gottfredson, Dick Huemer, Lucille Ogle, Dean Palacios, Zack Schaja, The Sherman Brothers, Riley Thomson and Elmo Williams.
Here is a picture of Dick Huemer as he proudly received his Mousecar.
Very few Disney "outsiders" have ever received a Mousecar, but here's an example that dates back to the mid 1960's when Walt awarded one of the prestigious statuettes to Louis Armstrong. As you read the details in the article from the Summer 2001 Issue of Disney Magazine below, pay close attention to the picture of Walt and "Satchmo". Is Mickey holding a trumpet?
Click on the image of the article to see a larger version that's easier to read.
Sadly, a few of these historic relics have found their way to auction houses; in 2005 Riley Thomson's Mousecar was auctioned for $5,358.
The Duckster was designed a few years after the Mousecar and, as near as anyone can tell, Walt Disney first awarded it in 1952, to Martha Torge.
Once again, records are sketchy but it seems that recipients of the Duckster included: Carl Barks, Marvin Goldfarb, Susan Henning, Bob Karp, Clarence Nash, Jennifer Sleeper, Al Taliaferro, Martha Torge and Max Westebbe.
How appropriate that Carl Barks and Clarence Nash were awarded Ducksters! Carl Barks wrote and drew nearly five hundred "Duck Stories" for Disney Comic Books and Clarence Nash was the voice of Donald Duck for over 50 years! Do you suppose Walt had them in mind when he designed the second statuette?
Susan Henning's Duckster was engraved "Best Unseen Performance by an Actress". Susan acted in The Parent Trap where she performed as a body double for Hayley Mills. Susan's face never appeared on screen, hence the reference to "unseen".
There is no indication that Walt Disney ever received a Mousecar or Duckster but in the photo below, from about 1965, he has one of each proudly displayed on his desk.
Do you suppose a dedicated Disney fan and occasional blogger like me could ever earn one of these wonderful awards?
You're right, it's highly unlikely . . . but in September 2009 a Duckster was awarded at the D23 Expo to contest winner Jennifer Sleeper, a Financial Analyst, who created the official portrait of Donald Duck for his 75th birthday.
I won't give up hope!