Ub Iwerks’ career was tied closely to Walt Disney’s almost as much as Roy Disney. Iwerks and Disney worked alongside creating the company’s most iconic material and characters including Mickey Mouse. Iwerks began as an animator and after having left and returned he worked for Disney as a special effects engineer.
Born 1901 in Missouri and past on 1971 in California, Iwerks list of accomplishments are mostly for the Disney company — Iwerks touched both the filmography and Disneyland. With Iwerks help, Disney’s animation company help take off and standout during its time. He also helped engineer well-known animatronics throughout Disneyland.
Ub Iwerks, born Ubbe Ert Iwwerks, met Disney in their early adult life. Iwerks was known to be a fast cartoonist, allegedly able to produce 700 sketches DAILY. Together, Iwerks and Disney created the first successful sound synchronized and the most popular cartoon in its time, Steamboat Willie (1928), officially debuting Mickey and Minnie Mouse. After Charles Mintz took the rights of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, co-created by Disney and Iwerks, the two began works on creating new characters.
Disney drew preliminary sketches in which Iwerks solidified, bringing to life one of the most recognized cartoon character ever — Mortimer…err, Mickey Mouse. The rest of that story can be a post on it’s own, but after Steamboat Willie brought financial success and a distributer, the two began to really crank out amazing work.
Iwerks left the Disney company but returned, not as an animator but an engineer in the special effects department. Walt had Iwerks work on perfecting the combination method of live-action and animation as seen on Mary Poppins (1964). Iwerks also had a hand in the animatronics in Disneyland having worked on “it’s a small world” and the Mr. Lincoln animatronic in the Opera House on Main Street. AND, Iwerks helped design some stuff for Disney World, although he didn’t live to see its grand opening.
Overall Ub Iwerks contributed so much to Disney and his company and, ultimately, to the history of the company we admire so much. So thank you, Iwerks, for your hard work, we love it.