Walt Disney Studios say they have unearthed what is believed to be the very first animated cartoon film ever produced by the company. The nitrate print reel was recently discovered by a cleaner at the back of a cupboard at Disney Studios and is thought to date from 1925. The cartoon – featuring a lazy work-shy Prince who is heir to a vast family fortune – is believed to pre-date the more famous Mickey Mouse character by several years.
The cartoon – titled ‘Work Shy Willie’ was produced in black and white and is also the first Disney film to feature a synchronised soundtrack. However the self-entitled character portrayed in the film was abandoned after just one episode as studio executives thought the idea of a young Prince, funded by the tax payer to live the life of Riley and do next to nothing in return, was too preposterous for modern day audiences to believe in. It was, after all, the 1920’s.
The film’s main character – Work Shy Willie – a young father of three who is second in line to the family throne is scolded by critics who accuse him of doing little work to justify his existence having only worked for 171 days of the calendar year. But the Royal household defended the Prince pointing out that he had actually been very busy throughout the year and had attended numerous high profile functions – from film premieres to the FA Cup final, the BAFTAS to Formula 1 events, Wimbledon finals to Six Nations rugby matches and the Star Wars premiere to skiing in the Alps.
In the film Work Shy Willie did briefly have a proper job to justify his lavish lifestyle but had to give up his role as an Air Ambulance pilot so that he could spend more time doing nothing. The 7 min 42 sec film is being restored at the studios and will have its premiere later in the year…which coincidentally is about the same amount of time the Prince has managed to work this year
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