Morty and Ferdie-Mickey’s “Forgotten” Nephews…

Here it is, the beginning of March and my favorite place on the planet, Walt Disney World recently announced it is extending the reservation system to gain entry to the parks. Just when will all the restrictions end? I am now without an annual pass for the last 5 months, which is unconscionable for me! However, my wife’ logic is more on the practical, whereas I just want it. But I must bow to her convictions, which are 9 times out of ten correct. She says why spend almost a grand on an Annual pass for literally half of what is being offered at Walt’s place and you cannot even get in without a park reservation. So, I again put off my pass, and to cheer myself up, I wanted to talk about a cheerful subject, Mickey Mouse’s nephews. If there are any fans who do not know of Morty and Ferdie or their history, here is a little something to think about while waiting for our Walt Disney World to fully open…

                                                                                                    Everyone knows Donald’s three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, and to a lesser extent, girlfriend Daisy’s nieces April, May and June (1st appearance in the Donald comic book story, “Flip Decision” 1953) and many know Minnie’s nieces (Although she has an inconsistent list of nieces, but it is definitely known she has two) Millie and Melody. But many do not know that Mickey has two nephews, Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse. As with other nieces and nephews in the Mouse family, there were different names along the way. In the Disney children’s books (pre-WWII) they were called Morty and Monty. Other early books contain three or more of Mickey’s nephews with other names i.e. Marmaduke and Maisie.  Ferdie was sometimes spelled “Ferdy” short for Ferdinand. It is even possible that Morty, which is short for Mortimer, could be a nod to the original name Walt planned for Mickey, Mortimer. The names and number of nephews Mickey had not been entirely consistent over the years, but it ended up with two nephews Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse. Morty should not be confused with Mickey’s often times rival of the same name (Mortimer Mouse) or Minnie’s wealthy rancher uncle Mortimer.

                                                                                                                The twins are the sons of Mickey’s sister Amelia Fieldmouse, who is also Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’s half-sister. She appeared in Morty and Ferdie’s comic debut in 1932, Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse Sunday comic strip continuity the “Mickey’s Nephews” strip.  Supposedly a woman appeared at Mickey’s house (Mrs. Fieldmouse) and dropped the twins off and asked if he would not mind caring for them while she ran an errand. In the Dutch comic strips, her name is translated as “Amelia”, the English version she is referred to as “Mrs. Fieldmouse” In the Mickey Short “Gulliver Mickey” 1934, Mickey relates the adventure to many of his nieces and nephews, including Monty, Marmaduke and Morrie, Morty and Ferdie.  It is strange that Mickey’s nephews never achieved the fame and notoriety of Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, since they predated the trio. They mainly appeared in the comic books and Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse Sunday comic strip. They were also very popular in the European comic strips. Morty and Ferdie were created by Gottfredson, who was asked by Walt to take over the comic strip for a few weeks, but ended up drawing them for 45 years.  

                                                                                                                 Morty and Ferdie Fieldmouse are considered counterparts to Millie and Melody and to Huey, Dewey, and Louie. One of the main differences is unlike Huey, Dewey and Louie who are under the charge of their uncles Donald Duck and Scrooge McDuck, Mickey is not their guardian but instead their mother is. However, the twins are mostly shown being taken care of by their Uncle Mickey, who truly seems to care deeply for them.

                                                                                                                The twins had a limited animation career. The first we learn of Mickey having any nephews is in the 1933 short, Giantland. In this short, we see that Mickey is telling a bedtime story to a group of little mice nephews gathered around him. This however, does not identify Morty and Ferdie by name. They first appeared together is in the 1934 Mickey Mouse short, “Mickey’s Steamroller”. Again, in this short they are not identified by name, but it is assumed that since Minnie Mouse was wheeling them together in a stroller, it was baby Morty and Ferdie. They had an extremely brief (And hard to spot!)  Cameo in Mickey’s 1938’s “Boat Builders. The next animation appearance did not happen until 1983’s “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” Morty played the part of Tiny Tim, and Ferdie the other Bob Cratchit’ son. (Note: voice actor Dick Billingsly did Morty) The next Cameo was in the two-part Mickey Mouse Works Toon, “Around the World in Eighty Days” in 1999.

                                                                                                       In the comic strip, the twins were often seen acting in harmony, almost as one character. In 1943 Floyd decided that the premise was overblown and decided to send Ferdie away. It was planned to bring back Ferdie as a bookworm nerdish character with glasses, and an Eton hat and coat. but it never developed and Ferdie did not appear for decades. In the interim, Morty gleaned two new friends Alvin and Millie, both dogfaces.  He never did disappear from the comic book stories. The character however was returned in the comic strips by other writers.

                                                                                                                In current comic books, Morty and Ferdie are portrayed as football players for the Riverside Rovers. Their mother is depicted as a “Soccer Mom.” Morty and Ferdie also occasionally clash with Minnie Mouse’ niece Melody, and Peg Leg Pete’s (Disney’s OLDEST continuing character) two nephews, Pieretto and Pierino. 

                                                                                                                Here is a little Biographical details…Mickey Mouse’s nephews, the twins Morty & Ferdie first arrived when a tall rodent woman named Mrs. Fieldmouse (also called Felicity or Amelia in foreign Disney comics) dropped them off at Mickey’s house and asked him if he wouldn’t mind taking care of them while she ran an errand. Melody & Millie, Minnie’s Nieces are approximately the same age as Morty and Ferdie. Morty and Ferdie often are headliners in foreign Disney Comics, or co-star with Pluto in his comics. It was first surmised that Morty and Ferdie were to be just neighborhood kids when dropped off at Mickey’s house, but was speedily ascertained that they were to be Mickey’s nephews.

                                                                                                                In the beginning, the exact number of Mickey’s nephews fluctuated. In the short, “Gulliver Mickey”, (1934) Mickey recalls the yarn to a group of nephews, with the names of Marmaduke, Monty, Morrie, and even a niece named Maisie. In the 1952 short “Pluto’s Party” the names of Mickey’s nephews included Ronnie, Lonnie, Freddy, Billy, Huey and Timmy. They were eventually shaved down to between two and three. Some of the early stories portrayed a third nephew in a nightshirt. This might have been “Monty” a single nephew in Disneyana products, but there is no collaboration. In two Donald Duck books 1935 and 1936, showcase two drawings of Mickey Mouse and two nephews Morty and Monty. It is surmised that Monty might have been a distortion of Morty. Monty is a recurring name in the stable of Mickey’s nephews.

                                                                                                                The nephews appeared in animation for the first time since Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 2017’s “The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!”, an animated Halloween special where they go trick-or-treating with Huey, Dewey and Louie. They appear in the 2010 video game “Epic Mickey” (Mickeyjunk Mountain) and Morty is a playable character in the Disney Golf game on Playstation 2.

                                                                                                                The nephews do not appear in Mickey’s House of Villains, but might be among the many mouse orphans seen in Orphan’s Benefit (1934), Orphan’s Picnic (1936) and Gulliver Mickey (1934). The following is a list of the Media they appeared in…Mickey’s Steamroller, Boat Builders, a cameo, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Mickey Mouse Works, a cameo, Video games, Disney Golf, Disney Party and Epic Mickey. Voice actors for Morty, Alan Young for a 1974 album, Dick Billingsley, Mickeys Christmas Carol, Cameron Bowen, for Disney Golf, and for both nephews, Chris Diamantopoulos, the Scariest Story Ever.

                                                                                                                Their Character information…Mortimer and Ferdinand Fieldmouse, Morty and Monty, or Morty and Ferdie. Home is Mouseton USA. Parents, Frank Fieldmouse, Felicity Fieldmouse. Relative, Uncle Mickey Mouse.

                                                                                                                Allies or friends…Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Grandma Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Donald Duck, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Ludwig Von Drake, Goofy, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Melody and Millie Mouse, Pluto, Gyro Gearloose, Pflip, Super Goof, Gilbert Goof, Chief O’Hara and Eega Beeva. And their list of enemies includes…Idgit the Midget, Phantom Blot, Pete, the Beagle Boys, Scuttle, Butch the Bulldog and Dangerous Dan.

                                                                                                                This story of Morty and Ferdie is a textbook example of character development that Walt and his animator’s wrestled with during the early days of the studio. Many people believe that the Disney characters were just thought up, drawn and voilà, we have it! Many of our favorite characters, i.e. Pluto, developed from a totally unintentional scene or drawing, someone said…” Hey, we can use this”! Pluto made his debut as a bloodhound in the Mickey Mouse short, The Chain Gang in 1930. He was pictured among two other bloodhounds, all unnamed chasing Mickey. In the 1930 Mickey short, “The Picnic”, he appeared, in the form we recognize as Minnie’s dog Rover. In the “Moose Hunt” 1931, Mickey calls his name “Pluto” and this short is the only one that Pluto speaks, he says…” Mamie”, “Kiss Me” and “The Moose” Walt Disney was an amazing and talented man!

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