Who doesn’t know about Pete Disney, also known by the names of Peg-Leg Pete, Black Pete, and Bad Pete?
If you are a fan of Pete Disney, you must already know why Pete is called Bad Pete. He is a villainous anthropomorphic cat designed by Walt Disney and famous as Mickey Mouse’s arch-nemesis.
However, his character arc covers many ranges and is the most extended surviving character in Disney’s animation world. So, follow this article to learn about him and his varied journeys.
Initially, Ub Iwerks and Walt Disney were the creators of Pete in 1925, and he debuted in Alice Solves the Puzzle, which was part of Alice Comedies by Walt Disney.
In this series, he was a strongman with a wooden leg, and most fans say that Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas used pirate iconography as their inspiration.
However, finally, he was characterized as Mickey Mouse’s arch-rival in Steamboat Willie in November 1928. Thus, as we said earlier, he is the oldest Disney character and Disney’s first villain with a consistent role.
If you look at Pete from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, you will see how contrasting Pete and Mickey Mouse’s character features are. Those contrasts, as you can very well understand, were intentional.
Mickey is weak and small, whereas Pete is powerful and humongous. He had numerous professions and aliases depicting him as a versatile evil character. However, we will go into greater detail about the evolution of Pete Disney in a subsequent section. Before that, let’s look at a brief background of this famous character.
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Pete Disney character background
Pete himself admitted that the sole purpose of his birth was to lie and cheat. Often we have seen villains have certain insecurity.
Pete Disney was no exception. Many speculate that it was because of the thorny relationship between his mother and Pete Disney that the latter indulged in activities to gain praise from his mother. Many stories thus depict his mother as a villain.
Moreover, stories such as Mickey Mouse World and DuckTales suggest that Pete’s descendants were criminals. In Mickey’s Cabin, Zeke, Pete’s cousin, even partners in his crimes.
If you are wondering where Pete Disney acquired his name, Peg-Leg Pete, here is the answer. Pete is shown to have lost one leg for some time. He had used a wooden peg as its replacement. From then on, he started using the name Peg-Leg Pete.
Even if he is a villain, he is not free of emotions. He had feelings for Minnie Mouse as early as 1928 in The Gallopin’ Gaucho. However, he used unfair means to force a relationship, including kidnapping Minnie.
In Goof Troop, he is seen as a friend cum acquaintance of Goofy; both were basketball players. In the local school he attended, he met a girl named Peg, whom he married later.
This narrative shows that he is a little less villainous, just like in A Goofy Movie, where he is portrayed as a suburban father and husband. Here, he was more domineering instead of villainous.
Pete Disney Personality
Pete Disney is a loud-mouthed, authoritative, overbearing bully who hates calm. He is always prone to disrupting the general calm order of the situation and creating havoc around him.
He has all the traits of a classic villain with a deep gruff voice, short temper, and cigar usage! His villainous characters depend from story to story. In some stories, he can be a simple but greedy person. In some accounts, he can be a tyrant and in others, he might have a profession but might be ruthless.
According to Walt Disney, Pete Mickey Mouse is a monstrous character who is also highly narcissistic. However, this comes from a deep-rooted fear of not being loved. So, according to him, those who are unlovable should be a person of fear whom no one would dare to bother.
Thus, some of his ambitions and deeds have this motivation of insecurity behind them. So, Mickey Mouse is a very successful character; therefore, that is what Pete Disney envies very much.
However, in other films like Mickey Mouse Mix-Up Adventures, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Goof Troop, he has more of a mischievous nature instead of a cruel villainous nature. Even if he is a domineering father to P.J., his son, he is very soft on Pistol, his daughter. Also, he is caring toward Peg, his wife.
In A Goofy Movie, he and Goofy were friends. In this movie, they interact and advise each other on different aspects. However, in this movie, too, he retained his villainous character.
But, even if you staunchly hate Pete because he hates Mickey, you will agree that Disney Pete is not an outright villain. Instead, his character has many negative shades!
Voice behind Pete
Pete is the earliest Disney villain and is the most recurrent Disney character in its history of cartoons. Thus, Pete’s character was conceived even before the conception of sound cartoons.
Thus, in their initial years, he played a pantomime role. Not until the Steamboat Willie production did Pete (Disney) get a distinct voice character. However, in that film also, he spoke in meows, growls, and grunts. Walt Disney gave voice to this initial part.
After that, in 1931, Pinto Colvig appeared, and he was the one who voiced his initial spoken dialogues of Pete. His first spoken dialogue is in The Cactus Kid, made in 1930. He had a high-pitched voice in this film. But, the trademark of Pete Disney character, the thunderous cackle, was first initiated in this film.
Following this, auditions took place for the role of Big Bad Wolf in The Three Little Pigs in the 1930s. Billy Bletcher, Colvig’s associate, took part in the auditions. So, eventually, he got into the villain wolf’s role.
Not only that, but his baritone voice was also found suitable for the character of Pete, in contrast to the charming voice of Mickey by Disney. He even infused speech patterns to make Pete’s character distinct and establish him as a gangster character in the movie.
Bletcher played this role from 1933 till 1960. However, in his period, Disney was producing shorts. After the department of short films closed, Pete disappeared from the scene.
However, he resurfaced in the 1980s when Will Ryan played his role in films like DuckTales, Down and Out with Donald Duck, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol.
He also took part in unreleased films like Mickey Columbus and Swabbies. In The Prince and the Pauper, Arthur Burghardt was featured as the villain’s character in 1991.
In 1992, in Goof Troop, Jim Cummings featured in the voice of Pete. Directors rejected Arthur by saying his voice and diction were inappropriate for the character of Pete Disney.
Cummings molded the character in a way that infused humor with Pete’s character. He also won Annie Award for Voice Acting in the Field of Animation in 1993.
So, now that we have a brief overview of this character, let’s have a look at its history of this character.
The initial part is 1925-1928
Pete made his debut in the short series Alice Comedies, released in 1920. In this short film, Pete is more like a bear. Thus, Pete the Cat Disney arrives later in the scenario.
Pete again plays a role when a new character comes into the Disney spectrum- Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. So, before Mickey, Pete Disney had a range of different adversaries.
Some legal errors led Disney to stop the Oswald projects, and this was the historic moment when he created the character of Mickey Mouse – an anthropomorphic mouse. He was designed to be featured in a series of shorts.
This is where the famous encounters between Mickey and his arch-nemesis Pete occur. However, in this series, Pete had the name Terrible Tom: The Vile Villain. However, in the 1930s, he acquired the name Peg-Leg Pete. This feature first emerged in The Cactus Kid in 1930.
As we have mentioned earlier, even if initially he was a silent antagonist, the creators developed his characters eventually. Norman Ferguson has most of the credits for supervising and creating Pete’s animation.
As the shorts progressed, he grew more defining characteristic features; Mickey’s Service Station was the final appearance of Pete in any black-and-white cartoon.
In Bellboy Donald, Pete Disney had a new son. He also appeared in propaganda films during the war years. However, his great feature in character took place when he appeared in the feature film of Disney’s Disneyland series- Mickey Mouse Club.
He also featured in the character of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He returned in Mickey’s Christmas Carol, released in 1983.
Pete even housed a hatred for Donald, brought to the surface in Down and Out with Donald Duck, released in 1987.
From the 1990s to present
Pete Disney had an expansion in his role when he played the character of a ruthless captain in The Prince and the Pauper. He played the part of a disgruntled kind in Mickey Columbus and as Mickey’s employer in Swabbies as well. However, the creators scrapped both of these projects.
However, in Goof Troop in 1992, he returned with full glamour. In this film, he is not a villain in the gangsterish sense. Instead, he is a domineering father and husband. He also has a contrasting character- Goofy, his benevolent neighbor.
In this film, Pete Disney has a steady profession, that of a salesperson who sells used cars. His family members also derive their names from his history. For example, he has a pegged leg. So, his wife’s name is Peg. The Pistol was Pete’s alias. So, his daughter has that name. This led to the first full-length role of Pete in the feature film A Goofy Movie.
After this, he continued to appear in many other Mickey films. One of the most important among those was 2004’s Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers.
In this film, the portrayal of Pete’s character echoed the shades he had in the early classic shorts.
In this film, he even kidnapped Minnie Mouse, a recurrent theme in previous films. Also, this is the film where he gets the trademark “bad-guy-song” that became a tradition for all Disney villains when The Three Musketeers was released.
In 2006, he transitioned into computer animation with his debut in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a preschool series.
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Pete has numerous appearances in several episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, a 3D children’s animated series. However, in this series, his villainous nature is slightly toned down as the audience the series caters to are small kids. He is more mischievous and less malicious.
In fact, at some points in the show, Mickey and the rest of the group even accept Pete as their friend. He even invited them over to a Halloween party. So, even if he is the antagonist in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the creators see that he turns out to be expected by the end.
In 2013, he again made his return to the big screen. This time he was the villain, in short, Get a Horse. Eric Goldberg designed this character. The original mode of Pete inspired him that Ub Iwerks created. Thus, this animation had elements from The Barn Dance and Steamboat Willie. Also, Peg Leg reappeared in this cartoon.
So, if you want someone to list all the movies that Pete Disney has appeared in, it will be a long list.
A Goofy Movie, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas, An Extremely Goofy Movie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and others will undoubtedly be on that list.
So, here is a brief description of the much-revered and also hated character of Pete Disney. For more such character information, stay tuned to Disney Wire for all things Disney!