The Biography of Disney’s Pluto

The youngest of what would become the The Walt Disney Company gang, Pluto was born September 5th 1928 as the basterd puppy of Lady Jule, wife of screen star Etzel von Oeringten (Stage Name – Strongheart).

Etzel von Oeringten – Taken on the set of The Silent Call (1921)

 

Though they were happily married for the first few years, in 1928 Oeringten was accused of murdering a young child by the name of Sofie Bedard. It was reported that he “tried to eat her”. Though Oeringten’s name was later cleared this caused irreparable cracks in their relationship and Lady Jule fell into the paws of another acting dog called Zimbo who played the role of the wolf in German film The Man who Laughs.

Within a few months she had fallen pregnant and given birth to her puppy boy who she named Pluto Oeringten in the hope that her husband would accept the boy as his own. But alas, that was not to be.

Pluto Oeringten at 6 weeks old (1929)

Furious with the possible scandal that could occur, Oeringten demanded that Pluto should be sent away. Desperate that Pluto should be looked after by a loving family, Lady Jule handed Pluto over to be looked after by one of her best friends; Lillian Mouse.

A kindly lady, Lillian and her husband, Walter Elias Mouse gladly accepted Pluto and planned to look after him until Oeringten had recovered from his anger.

Lillian had already given birth to her own son a few years earlier; a boy called Michael Jacob Mouse (nicknamed Mickey). Though weary at first, both Mickey and Pluto took a shine to each other and thus began the start of a beautiful friendship.

A modern artist’s impression of Pluto (1 year old) and Mickey (6 years old) preparing to go Trick or Treating (Oct 1929)

Though this ”adoption” was always meant to be temporary Oeringten died in mid 1929 from severe liver failure. Lady Jule was heartbroken and though she tried to take care of Pluto her mind was so longer sound. With great reluctance, Lady Jule asked the Mouse family to permanently adopt Pluto and to raise him as their own.
With a small kiss on his cheek, Lady Jule left Pluto and he never saw her again.

Pluto on the day his mother abandoned him (22nd December 1929)

During the previous year Walter Mouse, as an up and coming actor, had been headhunted by, Goofy Goof, the leader of D.I.S.N.E.Y (The Department of Ideological Solutions and the National Equality of Youths).

Back in 1919 Goofy had set up D.I.S.N.E.Y as a way for the United States military to connect with the youth of the time. However, a public figure was needed and, as a relatively young looking mouse, Walter was asked to become one of the figure heads of D.I.S.N.E.Y.

Though he wished to use his real name, Goofy felt that the name Walter was far too old and would turn off younger audiences. Walter was then requested to come up with a stage name and he chose to name his character after his son Mickey.

Thus in 1928 Walter made his on screen debut as the character Mickey Mouse in the short film Steamboat Willie

50th Anniversary poster created in 1978

For the next 8 years Walter continued in his role as ”Mickey Mouse” and the real Mickey Mouse and Pluto went through their school education.

Mickey (aged 12) and Pluto (aged 7) on their way to school (1935)

It was a happy time for Mickey and Pluto with Mickey actually getting a girlfriend called Minnie and planning to become Doctor. Pluto in turn was studying to become an engineer in the drilling industry. A few months into Pluto’s music lessons he was discovered to have an amazing singing voice and studied hard with the intention of emulating stars such as Bing Crosby and Al Jolson. It was also during this period that Pluto changed his name from Pluto Oeringten to Pluto Mouse.

Pluto demonstating his amazing voice while singing The Star Spangled Banner at the opening of a local baseball match (1935)

However soon tragedy was to strike the Mouse family as well as throwing the D.I.S.N.E.Y department into chaos. During the filming of The Band Concert in 1935, a huge number of special effects were required. Unfortunately while filming the hurricane scene Walter Mouse was was killed on set by a falling instrument not landing on it’s preassigned mark.

Now without a public figure, D.I.S.N.E.Y was in disarray as they fought to keep the news of Walter’s death out of the public domain. It was during this time that Donald Duck lobbied to become the public figurehead of D.I.S.N.E.Y. Yet, according to secret documents only recently released; Goofy Goof was very much against this move.

The negative effect of this event on Pluto was undeniable. Sources are vague during this period, but it is said that much of Pluto’s grades fell dramatically and he found it difficult to complete daily tasks.

However this tragedy would give way to an idea that would drastically change the direction of both Mickey and Pluto’s lives.

While babysitting the next door neighbour’s toddler, Pluto found out that little Herman Turtol (pictured below) was a great fan of Mickey Mouse. He nattered on and on about how much he was looking forward to seeing Mickey back on the big screen.

Pluto listening intently of Herman Turtol (1936)

And then the idea hit him. It was crazy. Very crazy. But it just might work. Mickey had his heart firmly set on becoming a doctor, but after spending a few days convincing him both Pluto and Mickey paid a visit to Mr Goof.

Pluto put forward the idea of replacing Walter Mouse with his son Mickey. After all they both had very similar facial structures and though an extreme idea, the advantages were obvious: avoid causing children traumatic problems, the continuation of the brand and a chance for Mickey to have long lasting employment.

Desperate to save D.I.S.N.E.Y, Goofy almost immediately agreed and Mickey was given the job as the face of Disney. However a problem then arose.

For reasons unknown Goofy did not wish to introduce a new character into the company brand and refused to hire Pluto to work for the company. Mickey in turn then refused to work for D.I.S.N.E.Y and tensions rose to almost breaking point.

Eventually a deal was worked out where Pluto was introduced as a new character, but he would not be allowed to speak in anyway whatsoever. (Much like our modern day Teller from magic duo, Penn & Teller). Though not the best move for Pluto, the chance to travel the world was too much to let up and he agreed to play to role of Mickey’s silent pet dog.

And thus the duo was born!

Promotional shot of Mickey and Pluto (1937)

In this authors opinion there are no words to explain exactly how meteoric their rise to fame was. The world was their oyster. Millions of children begged their parents to take them to see the new adventures of Mickey and Pluto. Toys flew off the shelves faster than they could be replaced.

A Pluto paddle toy that sold out less than 40 hours after it hit shop shelves (1937)

Though his newfound popularity gave him a much more negotiating power, Pluto took the high road and decided to keep playing a silent character. The joy he gave to children far outweighed any goals he had as an actor/singer. Though the next few years were a mix of studying and acting, the cloud of war was approaching.

With the outbreak World War II in 1939, Pluto was called up to do a variety of war themed cartoons. Though Pluto supported the war effort he could not shake that feeling of guilt. These young men were the same children he had hugged and talked to, now going to nations far away to die. He just couldn’t do it. He had to be a brave as they were. Thus with his country’s best interests at heart, Pluto Mouse enlisted in the United States Air Force.

Drawing of 2nd Lieutenant Pluto Mouse (1942)

During Pluto’s posting to the UK there was a desperate need to get oil over to continental Europe. With a variety of ideas being battered around such as airdrops or submarines; soon Pluto suggested the idea of laying down pipelines down in the English Channel. Chief Engineer Arthur Hartley was blown away by the idea and took it the the higher ups. It was quickly approved and Pluto spent a few months helping the creation of this system in 1942. The plans were so successful the final Operation was even named after Pluto. You can find out more about it here.

During 1942 Pluto was in great demand for a variety of missions that he was inherently qualified for such as mine detection or scouting. With demand far outstripping the number of qualified dogs Pluto decided to set up his own canine group. In March 1942 the K-9 Corps or War Dogs program was created with the intention of bringing together the best war dogs from across the United States
http://www.qmfound.com/K-9.htm

By 1944 plans were underway to begin the invasion of mainland Europe. With Allied soldiers needing early warning systems for approaching Nazis, the decision was made to have dogs parachute into France alongside their fellow soldiers. Though information on Pluto during this period is difficult to come by, one of his fellow dogs called Bing Walton has records of his missions in the public domain.

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/8948…

Brothers Jack and Bing Walton jumping over Mainland France (1944)

With the war finally coming to an end in 1945, Pluto was shipped back over the United States and the loving embrace of his family.

A joyful Pluto receiving his homecoming gift from Mickey (1945)

Welcomed back to D.I.S.N.E.Y with open arms, Pluto restarted his acting career as well as his well loved duo with Mickey.

The next 14-15 years were a joyful time for Pluto. He found that new children now adorned their bedrooms with his poster and he was considered a highly gifted tactician who’s advice was heavily sort after during the Korean War and Vietnam War. Not only that, but the previous tension between Goofy and Pluto had completely evaporated and they had become firm friends.

Photo of Goofy and Pluto (1955)

By 1959 the Eisenhower administration saw the rising power of Cuba as an increasing threat to the safety of American Citizens. As a response, Pluto was tasked with creating a plan that would destabilise Cuba while keeping American troops out of the conflict.

In response Pluto drew up the plans for an invasion by Cuban exiles to overthrow the Government. He named this plan after himself; Operation Pluto.
http://homepage.eircom.net/~csg/…

For those of you who know your history, the Bay of Pigs invasion turned out to be a disaster. But more importantly to Pluto, the disaster completely destroyed his friendship with Goofy. Having lost most of his men, Goofy held Pluto personally responsible for the loss of lives. The last time the two individuals talked to each other was the day after Goofy was rescued from Cuba. Even 60 years later the two former comrades still have not spoken to each other and most likely will take this hatred for each other to their graves.

With much of his confidence in his military planning knocked, Pluto wished to find a way to help America without risking thousands of lives. With permission from his military masters he decreased his involvement in the military and instead put much of his efforts into working for NASA.

Kennedy’s announcement in 1961 that there would be an American on the moon by the end of the decade had definitely given a boost to the space programme and Pluto’s engineering experience would be invaluable.

Though it is unknown exactly what work Pluto did on the space program, what can be said for sure is that he was responsible for helping Neil Armstrong overcome his nervousness and (according to some) helped Mr Armstrong come up with the first words he would say on the moon. If this is true Pluto seems to have harboured no ill will towards Neil and the two remained firm friends for many decades afterwards.

By 1975 Pluto had left the Space Programme and focus on making cartoons for Disney. During this time Pluto worked with up and coming actress Dinah “The Duchess” Windsor. A distant member of the British Royal Family , she had aspired to the bright lights of Hollywood and moved to America to make her career as an actress.

Dinah Windsor on set (1976)

The two got off to a great start and soon a great attraction between them developed. The occasion of Mickey Mouse’s wedding to his long term girlfriend in 1977 was a worldwide event and Pluto asked Dinah to be his date.

Pluto as the best man at Mickey Mouse’s Wedding (1977)

On such a lovely day it was almost fated that Pluto and Dinah should fall in love and on that hot summer’s evening they shared their first kiss.

Pluto and Dinah’s first kiss caught by a Wedding photographer (1977)

It is here that Pluto’s story comes to an end. During the 1980s the rise of the Looney Tunes as well as other popular children’s character convinced Pluto that it was time for him to go into retirement.

Though he still does the occasional movie and short film, his fame has not reached the heights of the previous decades. But in recent interviews Pluto seems to have been happy with this turn of events and enjoys the time he spends with his darling Dinah. He has lived a long and happy life and, in this authors opinion, he has more than earned a well deserved rest from his decades of patriotic work.

Other Disney Biographies
Biography of Donald Duck
Biography of Disney’s Goofy

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