Whistle While Iwerks

The Blog of Funny Names

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Most self-respecting Americans would recognize that mouse and that Disney mustache anywhere. But today we celebrate the man on the right, Ubbe Eert “Ub” Iwerks, aka Walt Disney’s oldest and dearest friend. Ub was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1901. His father, Eert Ubbe Iwerks, appears, in naming his son, to have simply switched his own first and middle name, a move that seems frankly lazy to me. Father Eert had emigrated to the U.S. in 1869 from the German village of Uttum in East Frisia. In modern Germany, East Frisians in general are the traditional butt of ethnic jokes, an embarrassment that the American-born little Ub was spared.

Forty years after Eert’s emigration, the fully-grown Ub met Walt Disney while working at the Pesmen-Rubin Art Studio. Both moved on to work as illustrators for the Kansas City Slide Newspaper Company, and eventually decided to work in animation…

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