Which character was cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in “Mickey’s Christmas Carol”?

Don't scroll down until you've answered!

Published December 14, 2023

Duh! is a weekly column that gives circuitous answers to obvious questions. If you dig it, you can find 100 more of these essays in the Geeks Who Drink book, Duh!.

In much the same vein as the later, longer, and better Muppet Christmas Carol, the 26-minute Mickey’s is a very straightforward Dickens retelling that backs up Uncle Scrooge and Mickey (as Bob Cratchit) with a Smash Bros-ian lineup of obscure Disney characters. The three time ghosts are:

In the pre-IMDb days of 1983, it must have seemed even stranger to use three separate characters from 1949’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

Regardless, it was also a bit of a coming-out party for both its star, Mr. McDuck, and its creator, Burny Mattinson, both of whom had been kicking around Disney for decades without ever truly finding the limelight themselves.

Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge

Mattinson rose through Disney’s ranks from the mailroom, to inbetweeners (starting with Lady and the Tramp in 1955), to assistant animator (Sleeping Beauty, 1959) to animator (Robin Hood, 1973, to key animator (Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, 1974). And he did all that without any formal art training, save for the eight-week internal course he completed before Robin Hood.

Scrooge, meanwhile, had spent most of his time hanging out in comic books, starting in 1947 with Christmas on Bear Mountain. That’s right: the richest, most famous citizen of Duckburg started out as a bear accessory.1 He didn’t headline his own comic until 1952, whereupon Disney started positioning him as more of the globe-trotting, ten-language-speaking duck of the world that we know today.

The two came together in 1981, when Mattinson heard Scrooge’s new voice actor, Alan Young,2 do some Dickens on a Disney Christmas LP. Mattinson was inspired to pitch a treatment of Christmas Carol, and it became his first of two stints as writer/director/producer,3 premiering in front of a 1983 re-release of The Rescuers (1977).

Burny Mattinson died in February at age 87, just months shy of what would have been his record-setting 70th work anniversary. Scrooge McDuck is still alive, kicking, and pantsless at 76.

  1. Not to be confused with a “bare necessity.”
  2. Young stayed in the role until his 2016 death, meaning that… well, he’s probably the one you’re familiar with, unless you’re a David Tennant partisan.
  3. The other one was his only feature film, The Great Mouse Detective (1986), which starred a 75-year-old Vincent Price as the title character’s archnemesis. None of the so-called “Disney Renaissance” movies had Vincent Price in them, so what exactly were they renaissancing, huh??