by Paul F. Anderson

To anyone who has read a Walt Disney biography, you know the story of Walt Disney’s 1926 Moon roadster. Walt was quite proud of that car, and it was the very automobile he used to court Lilly. However, after losing Oswald, Walt and Roy fell on hard financial times. Of course, that didn’t seem to disturb the ever-optimistic Walt Disney. Instead, he came up with a new character, Mortimer Mouse (aka Mickey). While there are a number of versions of how Walt came up with Mickey, there is only one story of the relationship between his Moon roadster and Mickey Mouse. This story, is considered to be accepted truth … well, if there ever was any doubt about it, I offer proof now (and the actual dates).

When Walt was back in New York recording the sound for Mickey’s third cartoon, “Steamboat Willie,” he started to run short on money. He kept in constant contact with Roy back in Los Angeles, and they were looking for extra money anywhere they could. Walt asked Roy in the summer of 1928 to mortgage their Lyric Avenue homes for additional funds. Still, due to problems with the recording of the soundtrack, more money was desperately needed, so Walt, demonstrating his faith in the project, informed his beloved brother to sell his beloved Moon roadster (the latter being the more likely to bring in the cash). The money was not only needed for the work underway in New York, but there are several accounts that it was also needed to meet payroll at the Hyperion Studio (2719 Hyperion).

In digging around through various newspaper morgues in the past, I have come up with an unbelievable number of Disney related articles (5000 plus–hopefully I’ll live long enough to post them all here at the Institute). Towards the latter days of my newspaper research, it was getting discouraging, as rarely would anything show up that I did not already have (thanks to a database I started from day one, I actually knew). So I got the bright (my wife would say insane) idea of searching for various historical Disney ads. So I present here at the Institute Walt’s Los Angeles Times classified advertisement (placed by Roy O. Disney … or perhaps Lilly or Edna) to sell said “beloved” Moon roadster. The first time it ran was on Saturday November 3, 1928, and the car was listed at $525. Apparently there was no interest at this price that day or on the following Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, so the advertisement was run once again on Wednesday the 7th of November. This time, the price was lowered to $475 and, it sold! Mickey got his soundtrack. Disney started an empire. Payroll was made. Thank goodness for this little classified ad (well, and for Walt’s foresight!).

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