A cartoon short of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit that was thought to be lost has been found. The short is one of seven Walt Disney shorts from the time that was thought lost.
The short was a 16mm film of Neck ‘n’ Neck and found by Yasushi Watanabe in the midst of his collection. He purchased it originally while in high school 70 years ago. At the time, the significance of the purchase wasn’t realized. Now 84, Watanabe originally purchased the film at a toy wholesaler near his home in Osaka, Japan. It wasn’t until he read Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by David Bossert, that he realized the importance of what he had.
Originally the film was labeled Mickey Manga Spide (Mickey cartoon speedy) and Watanabe purchased it for approximately $4.40 in U.S. dollars.
“As I’ve been a Disney fan for many years, I’m happy that I was able to play a role,” Watanabe told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. The paper reached out to Bossart and Walt Disney Archives to confirm that this short was one of the original seven thought to be lost.
Originally Neck ‘n’ Neck was five minutes in length. However, it was shortened to two minutes for the release on 16mm for home viewing. The copy owned by Watanabe is now residing at the Kobe Planet Film Archive. It is the second of the seven lost Oswald films to be found, with the other being found in 2015 at the British Film Institute Archives.
Walt Disney lost control of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in the spring of 1928 to Charles Mintz who made Oswald a Universal Studios character. This led to the creation of Mickey Mouse later that year. In 2006, Oswald returned to The Walt Disney Company in a trade for sports announcer Al Michaels who joined NBC Sunday Night Football. Since then Oswald has appeared in video games, made a cameo in Get a Horse!, and was also the subject of the film Walt Before Mickey.