I just finished reading a terrific book entitled "Spawn of Skull Island." It's an updated version of George Turner's classic "The Making of King Kong." Which -- for many years -- was considered the definitive source of information about the original "King Kong". This new expanded and updated version by George's son, Douglas, and Michael Price is even more definitive and exhaustive ... except for one thing.

There is no mention of Mickey Mouse.

When talking about the many rip-offs, homages, take-offs, etc. there is no mention of Mickey Mouse. Perhaps the readers of this website are also unaware of this important omission so let me share with you the connections between Mickey Mouse and King Kong.

Astute Disneyphiles probably realize that "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was not the first choice of a feature film by Walt Disney. Many of you know that as early as 1931, Walt began exploring the possibilities of a feature length version of "Alice in Wonderland" to feature a live action Mary Pickford interacting with animated characters. For a variety of reasons (including Walt's realization that Miss Pickford was a sharp businesswoman and producer who would not always let Walt do what Walt wanted to do when it came to planning the film), the film was never made.

In fact, astute Disneyphiles also probably know that Walt's next attempt at a feature film was to be a version of "Rip Van Winkle" with Will Rogers as the live action lead interacting with animated little men. Rogers' tragic death in a plane crash put an end to that project.

But very few astute Disneyphiles realize that the same year "King Kong" came out, Walt was in discussion with Kong's producer, Merian C. Cooper about making an animated film of the popular Victor Herbert operetta, "Babes in Toyland". Eventually, RKO did make a live action version of the operetta featuring Laurel and Hardy and a live Mickey Mouse (a small monkey dressed in a Mickey Mouse costume and mask who tormented the cat with the fiddle and later helped save Toyland).

That same year, 1933, "King Kong" which was in its first year of release was parodied in no less than four animated cartoons: "King Klunk" from Universal and directed by Walter Lantz featured Pooch the Pup going to a prehistoric island and later to the big city to rescue his girlfriend from "King Klunk"; "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" from Paramount and directed by Dave Fleischer was a "toys come to life" scenario featuring King Kong; "I Like Mountain Music" from Warners and directed by Bob Clampett had the giant ape "Ping Pong" stepping off a magazine cover.

(Another "Ping Pong", this time a man in an ape costume, made an appearance the following year in the film "Hollywood Party" which also featured a segment with an animated Mickey Mouse interacting with Jimmy Durante.)

The fourth animated film? Disney's "The Pet Shop" directed by Wilfred Jackson and with some great Art Babbitt animation and released October 28,1933.

In the storyline, Mickey sees a sign for "Boy Wanted" on a Pet Shop and applies and gets the job. The owner, Tony, goes off for a nice Italian lunch and leaves Mickey in charge of an odd assortment of animals including an ostrich.

Minnie stops by to visit and after the obligatory song finds herself in danger from "Beppo the Movie Monk". Beppo (who also appeared earlier in 1933 in "Mickey's Mechanical Man" as Beppo the Gorilla, the Kongo Killer) has been amusing himself in a nearby cage flipping through a movie magazine.

At first, he sees a picture of Stan Laurel and imitates the famous comedian. Then he runs across the actual first ad for "King Kong" and is instantly filled with the spirit of the great ape. Beppo escapes from his cage and grabs Minnie.

Mickey and the other animals try to rescue Minnie but Beppo, carrying Minnie, climbs a stack of birdseed boxes resembling the Empire State Building that Mickey had stacked earlier. A massive confrontation occurs with Beppo swatting away the birds circling around him like the planes in the "King Kong" movie.

Finally, Minnie is saved and Beppo finds his head stuck in a cage with a pair of skunks. Mickey and Minnie decide to run away before the owner returns from his lunch and finds all the destruction.

Mickey's confrontation with Beppo is certainly more comedic than his first confrontation with a gorilla in "The Gorilla Mystery" (1930) where the threatening ape seemed to be inspired by books like "Equatorial Africa" that stated that gorillas were giant terrors who would drag women and children off to a fate worse than death or by films like Edgar Allen Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" where a mad doctor used a gorilla to kidnap young women to crossbreed them with the gorilla to produce the perfect human being.

While it is true that gorillas are large, powerful creatures, they are also gentle and affectionate. Mountain gorillas are easygoing vegetarians who lead a peaceful, playful life. Large males patiently allow young gorillas to climb all over them without a murmur of protest, and they are not aggressive toward humans unless they are threatened.

Beginning early in the 20th century, collectors and hunters from Europe and the United States began to capture or kill mountain gorillas. The intimidating chest-beating charge of a male gorilla is usually a bluff to scare off intruders while the rest of his band disappears into the forest. Male gorillas usually grow to be 5- to 6-feet tall and weigh up to 400-plus pounds, All gorillas are endangered. The primary reason gorillas are endangered is because of habitat destruction caused by logging and agricultural expansion.

"Beppo", except for his short imitation of "King Kong" was very much in keeping with what we now know about actual gorillas. And yes, there was at least one pet shop in the Hollywood area that kept "exotic" animals like lions and tigers and such for use in the movies. (And for those who are comic book readers, isn't it curious that DC comics picked the name "Beppo" for their super monkey in the Superman family? Was Beppo a popular name for monkeys?)

For me, the parody of "King Kong" is unusual for Disney since it usually steered clear of parodies of popular films after the first handful of Mickey Mouse cartoons. Of course, just a few years later, RKO which made "King Kong" would start distributing Disney cartoons for the next two decades or so.

Perhaps Peter Jackson should consider having a spectator in his version of "King Kong" hold a Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse doll so that once again, Mickey can meet the eighth wonder of the world.