Sparky the Sun Devil, a devilish but lovable character, is the official mascot of Arizona State University (ASU). This unique mascot holds a special place in the hearts of the university’s students, alumni, and fans. But did you know there's an intriguing story behind Sparky's creation that links him to the legendary Walt Disney?
Sparky was born out of the imagination of Berk Anthony, a former artist at Disney Studios. Anthony worked with Disney from 1935 until he decided to branch out on his own. When the need for a new mascot arose at ASU in the late 1940s, it was Anthony who lent his artistic skills to create the now-iconic Sparky.
November 20 is celebrated as Sparky's birthday, a date that has become synonymous with the mascot's unveiling and acceptance by the ASU community. It's rumored that Sparky's face was modeled after none other than Walt Disney himself. In a recent Twitter post, ASU teased this tantalizing piece of trivia, stating, "Initially created in the late 1940s as a logo by Berk Anthony, an artist and former Disney employee, Sparky’s face is rumored to have been based on Walt Disney himself. But we can neither confirm nor deny that…"
While this rumor adds an extra layer of intrigue to Sparky's backstory, the truth remains elusive. Whether it's a playful jab at his former boss or a homage to the man who influenced his career, Anthony's inspiration for Sparky's face remains a well-kept secret.
Over the years, Sparky has become more than just a mascot. He's an integral part of ASU's identity and culture. He has undergone a few makeovers, one of which even sparked mixed reviews from the community. Still, Sparky remains a beloved figure, embodying the spirit and dynamism of ASU.
Today, Sparky is more than just a mascot; he's a symbol of pride for the ASU community. His devilish grin, mischievous eyes, and energetic personality have made him a memorable character. Whether he was designed as a logo or a mascot, whether his face was modeled after Walt Disney or not, one thing is certain: Sparky the Sun Devil is a unique representation of ASU's spirit and will continue to inspire generations of Sun Devils.