Laugh-O-Gram Studio

Laugh-O-Gram Studio was a film studio located on the second floor of the McConahay Building at 1127 East 31st in Kansas City, Missouri.

The studio played a role in the early years of animation: it was home to many of the pioneers of animation, brought there by Walt Disney, and is said to be the place to have provided Disney with the inspiration to create Mickey Mouse.

The studio building has fallen to ruin and efforts are being made to restore it. The Disney family has promised $450,000 in matching funds for the restoration.


In May 1922, Disney founded Laugh-O-Gram Films with $15,000. The company got an $11,000 contract to produce six cartoons for Pictorial Clubs, Inc., which went bankrupt. Among his employees were several pioneers of animation: Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rudolph Ising, Carmen Maxwell, and Friz Freleng.

The company had problems making ends meet: by the end of 1922, Disney was living in the office, taking baths once a week at Union Station.

Thomas McCrum, a Kansas City dentist saved him from total failure when he commissioned Disney for $500 for Tommy Tucker's Tooth, a short subject showing the merits of brushing your teeth.

After creating one last short, the live-action/animation Alice Comedies, the studio declared bankruptcy in July 1923. Disney then moved to Hollywood, California. Disney sold his movie camera, earning enough money for a one-way train ticket; he brought along an unfinished reel of Alice's Wonderland.

Inspiration for Mickey Mouse

Disney told interviewers later that he was inspired to draw Mickey by a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri.

They used to fight for crumbs in my waste-basket when I worked alone late at night. I lifted them out and kept them in wire cages on my desk. I grew particularly fond of one brown house mouse. He was a timid little guy. By tapping him on the nose with my pencil, I trained him to run inside a black circle I drew on my drawing board. When I left Kansas to try my luck at Hollywood, I hated to leave him behind. So I carefully carried him to a backyard, making sure it was a nice neighborhood, and the tame little fellow scampered to freedom.

In 1928 during a train trip to New York he showed the drawing to his wife Lillian Marie Bounds and said he was going to call it "Mortimer Mouse." She replied that the name sounded "too sissified" and suggested Mickey Mouse instead.


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