Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat is one of the most popular cartoon characters from the silent film era. He was in fact the first animated character to gain enough popularity to draw huge movie going audiences; during that time when television and movie was yet still young and naïve in nature. Felix could be easily spotted by his simple black feline body, huge white eyes and winning grin; he is still recognized by most children, today. One of the biggest mysteries behind Felix though; is his rather confusing origins. At one time Australian cartoonist, Pat Sullivan argued during his life time; that he was the one that came up with Felix and wasn’t just the owner of the Felix the Cat character.

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Felix the Cat enjoyed much popularity during the 1920s in animated shorts, but was also given a comic strip that started in 1923. Felix’s first appearance was made in 1919 in a short called Feline Follies (A Paramount Picture production). His image came to also adorn such things as ceramics, toys and postcards. There were even stuffed toys made in his image and also songs about him from popular Jazz bands of that time, such as Paul Whiteman.

Felix the Cat

Regrettably though his decline came in the late 1920s due to the production of cartoons that were not only animated but had started being produced with sound as well, the silence was broken. A good example was the emergence of Disney shorts featuring an early Mickey Mouse. For a time Sullivan was unwilling to put the Felix the Cat shorts to sound production but eventually caved in 1929, working through Copley Pictures. However Felix the Cat could not last in sound and failed; operation and production of Felix the Cat was shut down in 1930. He saw a brief moment of life come 1936 through the Van Beuren Studios in the form of three shows. Unfortunately Sullivan did not live to see this, having died in 1933.

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Felix the Cat received a makeover when he started airing on American television in 1953, with the redesigning done by Joe Oriolo. He gave Felix longer legs, a “Magic Bag of Tricks” and even added new characters. Since then he headed in some other television shows and two films. The son of Oriolo after his father took over creative rights to Felix the Cat. Felix is still going strong in the merchandise department to this day surprisingly enough despite his rocky past.

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Oddly enough, Felix the Cat shorts were notorious for subtle hints at alcoholism and Prohibition. A few good examples of this were the shorts: Felix Finds Out, Why and Other Whys, and Felix Woos Whoopee. Of course no one was really supposed to know this and like any popular character he had many imitators out there as well. One show inspires the spinoff of another. His cartoons were even popular amongst critics. To this day Felix the Cat is remembered as one of the greatest character in silent animation history.

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