Pete's pre-Mickey days (again!)

Mon Mar 6 20:11:07 CET 1995

      Although I haven't bought it yet, I did some research in the 
recent Russell Merritt/J. B. Kaufman book WALT IN WONDERLAND (1993) 
for more about the earliest Pegleg Pete appearances.

      We'd had Pete down as being in 11 pre-MM cartoons -- as 
reported by John Grant, who only had access to the films that 
actually existed and copyright summaries (which didn't exist for many 
Alice films).  Merritt and Kaufman, by contrast, dug up the 
original story synopses in the Disney Archives.
      Merritt and Kaufman list Pete as appearing in a whopping 29 
pre-Mickey cartoons!  He adopted such nicknames as "Putrid Pete," 
"Bootleg Pete," "One-Eyed Pete" (with two good eyes), and "Pistol 
Pete" as well as the later-standard "Pegleg Pete" (a monicker that 
was first used in 1926).
      Pete appeared as a bear until the Mickey series began, at which 
time he got a long tail and whiskers and became a cat.  

      Now for some other information which I've observed, but which 
isn't in any book that I've noticed:
      Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising left Disney after the Oswald
series stopped to go work on more Oswald cartoons (the 1928-29 
season) for Universal -- and Pete continued to appear in their 
Oswald cartoons!  When Oswald became Walter Lantz's property, 
Pete appeared in those cartoons too... and Harman and Ising, who went 
off to found the Warner cartoon studio, used bear-Pete there as well 
in Bosko's "Big Man from the North" and "The Dumb Patrol" (both 
1931).  "Big Man" is largely a remake of 1928's "Ozzie of the 
Mounted," and from what I can tell, Pete looks EXACTLY the same from 
one to the other!
      Paul Terry didn't have the excuse of having once worked for 
Disney, but he did release a film (which I haven't seen) titled "Peg 
Leg Pete" (1932).  One can only wonder what his version of the 
character looked like.
      Those who've talked about early '30s MM plagiarisms don't seem 
to have noticed how when Disney's Oswald team disbanded, Pete wound 
up at three different studios... with his name and physique basically 
intact.  One can only wonder if Van Beuren's court injunction 
vis-a-vis Mickey dupes was also the reason why other studios 
stopped using Pete!

      David Gerstein

      <9475609 at>
      "If it weren't for the help o' Hard-Haid Moe/I woulda married a 
long time ago!/Where did you come from -- where did you grow?/
Where did you come from, Hard-Haid Moe?"

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