by Chris Lucas
December 11, 2020
Disney’s very first Christmas cartoon was released on December 11, 1927. It was an Oswald short called “Empty Socks.”
In this film, written and directed by Walt Disney himself and animated by Ub Iwerks and two others, Oswald and his pals volunteer to bring holiday gifts to kids at an orphanage. The children then cause all sorts of havoc with their new toys and Oswald has to rein them in.
Two months after this movie debuted in New York City, Walt had a meeting there with his business partner - Charles Mintz - who informed Walt that Universal was claiming full rights to Oswald and taking most of Walt’s animation staff from him. This betrayal led directly to the creation of Mickey Mouse by Walt and Ub Iwerks, who remained at Disney.
In 2006, Universal traded the rights to Oswald back to Disney in exchange for the contract rights to broadcaster Al Michaels (true story!)
“Empty Socks” was one of many early Disney cartoons thought lost forever, but a partial copy (about four of six minutes) was found in Norway in 2014 and given to the Disney Archives.
Chris Lucas is the author of Top Disney: 100 Top Ten Lists of the Best of Disney, from the Man to the Mouse and Beyond.
On the PRESS CLUB C Podcast, enjoy Ray’s discussion with Chris Lucas about his career as an actor, author and Disney expert. Tune in right here!