Horace is the one on top. Artist: Floyd Gottfredson.


Original medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Disney
First Appeared: 1929
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Like real-live actors, some cartoon characters are stars, recognized by one and all even long after their heyday, like Woody Woodpecker, Casper and Mighty Mouse. Others …

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… can appear in one cartoon after another over a period of years, and scarcely be noticed, like Claude Cat, Spike & Tyke and Horace Horsecollar.

Horace was first seen in The Plow Boy, a Mickey Mouse cartoon released on June 28, 1929, in the role of an ordinary plow horse. He showed early promise by rising above his lowly part to do a dance number on his hind legs, before finishing the scene back on all fours. That was his only non-fully-anthropomorphic role. He next appeared later that same year, in The Jazz Fool, and after that became a regular member of the Disney supporting cast, along with Clarabelle Cow, Clara Cluck and others even more minor.

He appeared frequently in 1930-32, not so frequently 1933-35, and only on rare occasions 1936-42 — a reasonably prominent character in his day, but time passed him by. His last cartoon in the classic era was Symphony Hour, which came out March 20, 1942. After that, he was so thoroughly forgotten that today, nobody seems to remember who provided his voice.

He made a quick transition to comics, acting as Mickey's sidekick in several of Floyd Gottfredson's 1930s daily strip adventure stories. His first such adventure was "Mickey Mouse in Death Valley", which began in April, 1930. In these stories, Horace was characterized almost as a buffoon, not particularly smart or brave, and a self-styled expert on everything. It was also in the comics that he and Clarabelle became an "item" — they announced their engagement in 1931. After a few years, tho, Horace was phased out of the strip and Goofy became Mickey's sidekick. He continued to make occasional appearances until the 1950s, but was eventually dropped altogether.

Other than a few appearances in overseas comic books, Horace was virtually forgotten for decades. In 1983, he had a cameo in Mickey's Christmas Carol — but then, nearly all the old-time Disney characters turned up there. And of course he was seen in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). He actually had a speaking role in The Prince & the Pauper (1990). In American comic books of the early '90s, he reprised his role as Mickey's adventuring sidekick, at least occasionally. In recent years, he's been appearing frequently on the variously-named Mickey Mouse show that runs on ABC Saturday mornings. Also, stories with him as the main character have started appearing in European comic books, and some of these stories have been reprinted in the U.S.

In these latter-day animated appearances, his voice is provided by Bill Farmer (who also did Sylvester, Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn in Space Jam). Horace still isn't a major star, and probably never will be — but this time around, at least we know who does his voice.


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