Ickymay Ousmay: Coat of Arms from Hyperion Studio Buildings

A 1932 article in McCall’s magazine reported that painted on one door in red and gold is a shield bearing Mickey’s coat of arms. The mystic words “Ickmay Ousmay” are inscribed on this heraldic emblem and they puzzled studio visitors a good deal. But guests who recall a jargon almost universal among children grin and translate the gibberish into ‘Mickey Mouse.’ This was the language whereby dark secrets were kept from inquisitive adults.”

In early 2012, Disney historian David Lesjak was researching and authoring a publication about the Disney studio on Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. He found the McCall’s article, and searching for more information, discovered the owners of this special artifact that survived the destruction of Walt’s Hyperion Avenue studio buildings and introduced them to Diane Disney Miller.  After negotiations with the Walt Disney Family Foundation, Eric and Thomas Curtis, the owners of the Mickey Mouse coat of arms, planned to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum and meet with Diane to pass on the treasure.

Eric and Thomas Curtis’ father, Thomas Stanley Curtis, had purchased the Hyperion buildings from Walt and Roy Disney in 1943, and the animation studio became the home of his optical company, Thomas S. Curtis Laboratories. When Mr. Curtis passed away in 1964, the family sold the property. Eric recalls the whimsical Mickey Mouse coat of arms on one of the doors greeting visitors when entering the main building, and reviewing plans of Disney’s Hyperion studio, he pointed out the location. It was Walt’s office (and, later, Roy’s).  Most of the studio’s doors had been painted over, but through the years, “Ickymay Ousmay” (Mickey Mouse in Pig Latin) was saved from the painter’s brush. Eric reported the crest was cut from the door by a co-worker and presented to him prior to property’s sale. (Walt’s Hyperion studio buildings remained intact for two more years, but were demolished in October, 1966.) 

In November 2012, Eric and Thomas came to the museum to pass the coat of arms on to Diane, so it could be preserved and presented to the many visitors at the museum.

Walt’s desire to develop the art of animation impelled him to hold art classes for his employees. Disney artists have long been known for their sense of humor. Could this crest have been their playful response to being “sent to school”—a school perhaps called the “Ickymay Ousmay School of Cartooning”? Please share your thoughts at connect@wdfmuseum.org. You can now view this installation in the Awards Lobby at The Walt Disney Family Museum.

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