Felix the Cat is a cartoon character showcased first by Paramount Pictures in 1919. A character created in the silent film era, Felix the Cat was one of the most recognized characters, alongside Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker. He also became the first animated character to attain enough popularity to attract movie audiences. Though there have been disputes on who the original creator of Felix the Cat is, what is certain is that it emerged from Sullivan’s Studio. Undoubtedly, all cartoon shorts featuring Felix enjoyed tremendous popularity and success in the 1920s. Read on further to know more interesting facts and amazing information on the history, origin and background of Felix the Cat.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Felix the Cat
A prototype of Felix, Master Tom debuted in a Paramount Pictures short titled ‘Feline Follies’ on November 9, 1919. The short was produced by New York based animation studio owner Pat Sullivan and was directed by cartoonist and animator Otto Messmer. The short was a grand success. Soon, the second short came up titled as ‘The Musical Mews’ on November 16, 1919. This, too, attained immense popularity and became a success with audiences. The character was renamed as Felix the Cat, deriving it name from two Latin words, ‘felis’ meaning cat and ‘felix’ meaning lucky. This name was used in the third short, titled ‘The Adventures of Felix’ that released on December 14, 1919. The character had a black body with white eyes and giant grin.
Over the years, there have been numerous questions as to who actually created the character of Felix the Cat. Sullivan stated in numerous newspapers that he created Felix and did the key drawings for the character. However, after Sullivan’s death in 1923, Messmer was honored with Felix’s creation by Sullivan staffers such as Hal Walker, Al Eugster and Sullivan’s lawyer, Harry Kopp. The character of Felix was created to represent a child’s sense of wonder. His famous pace - hands behind his back, head down, deep in thought - became a trademark sign analyzed throughout the world. Its grand success brought in a number of imitators such as Julius of Walt Disney’s Alice Comedies, Waffles of Paul Terry’s Aesop’s Film Fables and Bill Nolan’s Krazy Kat.
Felix the Cat was at its career peak in 1923. A short titled ‘Felix in Hollywood’ was released during this year that showcased Felix’s popularity. Soon, the character was seen on clocks, Christmas ornaments and as the first giant balloon made for Thanksgiving Day Parade. Eventually, the shorts saw introduction of new co-stars like Felix’s master Willie Brown, Skiddoo the Mouse, Felix’s nephews Inky, Dinky and Winky and his girlfriend Kitty. Shorts like ‘Felix Finds Out’ (1924), ‘Whys and Other Whys’ (1927) and ‘Felix Woos Whoopee’ (1930) referred to the theme of alcoholism and prohibition.
The character’s unprecedented popularity made it a mascot for various notable individuals and organizations, the first of them were Los Angeles Chevrolet dealer and friend of Pat Sullivan, Winslow B. Felix opened his showroom in 1921, where the character was seen as a three-sided neon sign. Presently, the showroom is LA’s best-known landmarks. In the year 1922, aviator Charles Lindbergh took a Felix doll with him on his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Felix also became the mascot of all the Logansport High School sports teams in Indiana in 1926, after they won a basketball match.
Messmer began a comic strip in 1923 that was distributed by King Features Syndicate. However, the cartoon strip discontinued two decades later, in 1943 after which Messmer started writing and drawing monthly Felix comic books for Dell Comics. In 1954, the Felix shorts were purchased by Official Films who added soundtracks to the shorts and distributed to the home movie and television markets. Soon, the Felix cartoons started getting aired on American TV. Since then, the cat has featured on other television programs and two feature films. The character can still be seen on a wide variety of merchandise ranging from clothing to toys.