Claude gives evidence of cracking up.


Original medium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1949
Creator: Chuck Jones
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Back in the 1950s, "neurotic" humor was all the rage. People who couldn't even define the word were laughing at the comic strips of Jules Feiffer, the antics of Sidney the Elephant and other …

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… works where the funny stuff came from the characters' own self-destructive psychological hang-ups. The Warner Bros. cartoons had an entry in that race — Chuck Jones's Claude Cat.

The first glimmerings of Claude can be seen in The Aristo-Cat (released June 12, 1943), in which a pair of freshly-introduced rodents, Hubie & Bertie, convinced the poor creature, who had never dealt with mice before, that a bulldog was his natural prey. The design was wrong (this was a black and white kitty, who physically resembled several earlier ones with nondescript characterization), but the personality was right, and Mel Blanc, who created the voices of everybody from Daffy Duck to Marvin the Martian, already had his voice down pat.

The nameless cat evolved in a Claude-like direction through Odor-able Kitty (1945, in which he(?) served as foil in the debut of Pepe LePew), Roughly Squeaking (1946, in which he met Hubie & Bertie again) and a couple of others, before emerging more-or-less fully developed (and finally named) in Mouse Wreckers (released April 23, 1949) — another Hubie & Bertie vehicle, and the only time either that pair, or Claude himself, was ever nominated for an Oscar.

After that, Claude went on to a minor career in which he occasionally teamed up with Hubie & Bertie, and occasionally did so with even more minor Chuck Jones stars, such as Marc Antony the bulldog and a frisky puppy known only as Frisky Puppy. He never had a cartoon all to himself, without a co-star, nor did he team up with any of the major characters such as Bugs Bunny or Foghorn Leghorn. He also never became a star in non-animated media, such as comic books.

Exactly how many Claude Cat cartoons there were depends on what you consider a Claude Cat cartoon. The usual count is about eight or nine. The last one was No Barkng, released February 27, 1954. Since then, Claude has made an occasional appearance when the Warner Bros. characters are trotted out for another look, such as the 1996 feature movie Space Jam, but has mostly been seen in TV reruns.


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