Forget Mickey Mouse. The earliest cartoon I can remember is Felix The Cat, which premiered on tee vee when I was just a year old.
However, Felix The Cat is a lot older than that. In fact, he’s one of the very first stars of the silver screen, going all the way back to the Silent Era in 1919. Among his mysterious beginnings is that way back then Felix went by the nom de mouse of Master Tom. Why? What was he trying to hide?:
Master Tom left behind his former life with a name change for his 3rd movie, “The Adventures of Felix.”
Another mystery: From which back alley did he come from. The WikiWackyWoo has that story:
Felix’s origins remain disputed. Australian cartoonist/film entrepreneur Pat Sullivan, owner of the Felix character, claimed during his lifetime to be its creator. American animator Otto Messmer, Sullivan’s lead animator, has also been credited as such. What is certain is that Felix emerged from Sullivan’s studio, and cartoons featuring the character enjoyed success and popularity in the popular culture. Aside from the animated shorts, Felix starred in a comic strip (drawn by Sullivan, Messmer and later Joe Oriolo) beginning in 1923, and his image soon adorned merchandise such as ceramics, toys and postcards. Several manufacturers made stuffed Felix toys. Jazz bands such as Paul Whiteman‘s played songs about him (1923’s “Felix Kept On Walking” and others).
By the late 1920s, with the arrival of sound cartoons, Felix’s success was fading. The new Disney shorts of Mickey Mouse made the silent offerings of Sullivan and Messmer, who were then unwilling to move to sound production, seem outdated. In 1929, Sullivan decided to make the transition and began distributing Felix sound cartoons through Copley Pictures. The sound Felix shorts proved to be a failure and the operation ended in 1932. Felix saw a brief three-cartoon resurrection in 1936 by the Van Beuren Studios.
Felix cartoons began airing on American TV in 1953. Joe Oriolo introduced a redesigned, “long-legged” Felix, added new characters, and gave Felix a “Magic Bag of Tricks” that could assume an infinite variety of shapes at Felix’s behest.
This is the Felix I remember from my childhood and this may have been the first song I knew by heart:
I loved the cartoons that featured Poindexter and The Master Cylinder.
Sadly, most of the Felix The Cat cartoons now found on the innertubes have these horrible wraparound segments. However, if you can last out that first 60 seconds, there’s still a classic Felix The Cat cartoon at the chewy center:
This year the big news from Tinsel Town was that all is forgiven and Felix The Cat — one of the very first balloons — would return to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.