Disney Disney: Pluto – Pluto Junior
Pluto debuted in animated cartoons and appeared in 24 Mickey Mouse films before receiving his own series in 1937. All together Pluto appeared in 89 short films between 1930 and 1953. Several of these were nominated for an Academy Award, including The Pointer (1939), Squatter’s Rights (1946), Pluto’s Blue Note (1947), and Mickey and the Seal (1948). One of his films, Lend a Paw (1941), won the award in 1942. Because Pluto does not speak, his films generally rely on physical humor. This made Pluto a pioneering figure in character animation, which is expressing personality through animation rather than dialogue. also called Pluto the Pup, is a cartoon character created in 1930 by Walt Disney Productions. He is mustard-colored, medium-sized, short-haired dog with black ears. Unlike Goofy, Pluto is not anthropomorphic beyond some characteristics such as facial expression, though he did speak for a short portion of his history. He is Mickey Mouse‘s pet. Officially a mixed-breed dog, Pluto is clearly modeled on the English Pointer breed, most evident in the film “The Pointer”. The prominent Disney artist Norm Ferguson owned an English Pointer. Together with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy, Pluto is one of the “Sensational Six”—the biggest stars in the Disney universe. Though all six are non-human animals, Pluto alone is not dressed as a human.
Like all of Pluto’s co-stars, the dog has appeared extensively in comics over the years, first making an appearance in 1931. He returned to theatrical animation in 1990 with The Prince and the Pauper and has also appeared in several direct-to-video films. Pluto also appears in the television series Mickey Mouse Works (1999–2000), House of Mouse (2001–2003), and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–present).
In 1998, Disney’s copyright on Pluto, set to expire in several years, was extended by the passage of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Disney, along with other studios, lobbied for passage of the act to preserve their copyrights on characters such as Pluto for 20 additional years.
Pluto first appeared as a nameless bloodhound tracking the escaped convict Mickey in the film The Chain Gang (1930). A month and a half later, Pluto appeared as Minnie Mouse’s dog named Rover who comes along with her and Mickey on a picnic. By his third appearance, in The Moose Hunt (1931), Pluto is Mickey’s pet, now named “Pluto.”
Several months had passed between the naming of what was believed to have been the ninth planet, Pluto, on March 24, 1930, and the attachment of that name to the dog character. Venetia Burney (later Venetia Phair), who as an eleven-year-old schoolgirl had suggested the name Pluto for the planet, remarked in 2006: “The name had nothing to do with the Disney cartoon. Mickey Mouse’s dog was named after the planet, not the other way around.” Although it has been claimed that Disney named the dog after the planet, rather than after the mythical god of the underworld, this has not been verified. Disney animator Ben Sharpsteen said “We thought the name [Rover] was too common, so we had to look for something else. … We changed it to Pluto the Pup … but I don’t honestly remember why.” Disney says they have no documents to support or refute the connection. Unofficially, even Disney’s animators believed that Walt Disney chose the name to capitalize on the sensation of the newly named planet.
Pluto was initially a minor character until 1934, when Disney animator Norm Ferguson gave the dog a key role in the cartoon Playful Pluto. Pluto becomes entangled with a sticky piece of flypaper, and Ferguson expanded the sequence significantly. The segment became a classic, demonstrating how Disney artists can take a simple circumstance and build humor through a character.
Unlike Mickey’s other animal friends, such as Goofy (who is also a dog), Pluto is not a “funny animal.” Pluto does not speak, walk upright, or wear clothing, but rather acts like a normal (if exaggerated) dog. A significant departure from this was his speaking role in The Moose Hunt (1931), which was produced before Pluto’s characterization had been clearly defined. As Pluto made more appearances, it became common that he would not speak, but only vocalize in barks and grunts. Other ways of communicating Pluto’s thoughts occur through his facial expressions, and sometimes through the use of a shoulder angel/devil who speak directly to Pluto. (Mickey’s Elephant, Lend a Paw).
Pluto is generally a cheerful and adventurous dog, although he can be given to sheer panic when confronted with something unknown. Common themes in Pluto’s stories involve him becoming jealous of Mickey getting another pet (Mickey’s Elephant, Lend a Paw, Mickey and the Seal), Pluto accidentally and unwittingly swallowing something and panicking when he realizes it (Playful Pluto, Donald and Pluto), Pluto getting entangled with something inanimate, or Pluto being pestered by a smaller animal (Private Pluto, Squatter’s Rights). In many of his appearances with Mickey, Pluto will get himself into trouble and cause Mickey to get angry at him. Mickey however, often cheers up quickly; often telling Pluto “I can’t be mad at ya.”
Pluto sometimes appears with other regular animal characters. His friends include Fifi the Peke, Dinah the Dachshund, and Ronnie the St. Bernard Puppy. Other animals he is less friendly with include Salty the Seal, Butch the Bulldog, Figaro the Kitten,Chip ‘n Dale, Spike the Bee, Ol’ Benttail the Coyote, Milton the cat and other characters. In Disney’s 1937 animated short Pluto’s Quin-Puplets, Pluto has a son who is simply referred to as “Pluto Junior.” In the 1946 animated short Pluto’s Kid Brother, Pluto has a younger brother named K.B.
Pluto first and most often appears in the Mickey Mouse series of cartoons. On rare occasions he is paired with Donald Duck (“Donald and Pluto”, “Beach Picnic”, “Window Cleaners”, “The Eyes Have It”, “Donald’s Dog Laundry”, & “Put Put Troubles”).
The first cartoons to feature Pluto as a solo star were two Silly Symphonies, Just Dogs(1932) and Mother Pluto (1936). In 1937, Pluto appeared in Pluto’s Quin-Puplets which was the first installment of his own film series, then headlined Pluto the Pup. However, they were not produced on a regular basis until 1940, by which time the name of the series was shortened to Pluto.
His first comics appearance was in the Mickey Mouse daily strips in 1931 two months after the release of The Moose Hunt. Pluto Saves the Ship, a comic book published in 1942, was one of the first Disney comics prepared for publication outside newspaper strips. However, not counting a few cereal give-away mini-comics in 1947 and 1951, he did not have his own comics title until 1952.
Pluto runs his own neighborhood in Disney’s Toontown Online. It’s called the Brrrgh and it’s always snowing there except during Halloween. During April Toons Week, a weekly event that is very silly, Pluto switches playgrounds with Minnie (all other characters do this as well). Pluto actually talks in Minnie’s Melodyland.
Pluto has also appeared in the television series Mickey Mouse Works (1999–2000), Disney’s House of Mouse (2001–2003) and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2006–present). Curiously enough, however, Pluto was the only standard Disney character not included when the whole gang was reunited for the 1983 featurette Mickey’s Christmas Carol, although he did return in The Prince and the Pauper (1990) and Runaway Brain (1995). He also had a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). In 1996, he made a cameo in the Quack Pack episode “The Really Mighty Ducks.”