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Walt Disney built an empire on the shoulders of Mickey Mouse, but only after he lost his earlier creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
Could Oswald have conquered the world under different circumstances? Get a sense of his charms in this exclusive clip from The Hungry Hobos, a 1928 short that was believed lost for decades until a copy was discovered in 2011 in a private vault in England. Following extensive digital restoration, it’s now available to see once again as part of the Walt Disney Signature Collection Snow White release (already out on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere, with a digital code to unlock the short in the Blu-ray combo pack out Feb. 2).
The newly restored short follows Oswald and hooligan companion Putrid Pete in a freight car filled with animals. They’re looking for ways to cook a meal with what few tools are immediately available when a policeman chases them off the train, forcing the duo to think on their feet.
Audiences embraced the funny bunny in animated shorts produced by Disney starting in 1927. But when the fledgling animator split from his deal with Universal the following year, he had to leave his “star” behind — and as a result, soon created the lovable rodent that would turn into his cash cow.
While Oswald clearly shares some of Mickey’s DNA — including in his visual design — the two characters are not clones. The long-eared critter is much more flawed than Disney’s famous mouse, and he’s not quite as lucky as his name would lead us to believe. “Oswald is more of a loser than Mickey,” says Disney’s resident Oswald historian David Gerstein. “He’s jinxed and he’s not quite as selfless as Mickey.”