MISTERJAWMedium: TV animation
Produced by: DePatie-Freleng
First Appeared: 1976
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In the wake of Jaws, the blockbuster movie released in 1975 by Universal Pictures, the entertainment industry was awash in sharks. Even in animation, there were sharks. Two, in fact, debuted on the very same day (Sept. 11,
1976) — Jabberjaw, by Hanna-Barbera, on ABC, and Misterjaw, by DePatie-Freleng (The Inspector, Super President) on NBC.
Of course, they were far from direct rip-offs of the movie that sparked the trend. With Sherman's Lagoon as the exception that proves the rule, it's not easy getting enough sympathy from an audience consisting of prey species, to make a grim, deadly predator very viable as the protagonist of an ongoing series. But of the two, Misterjaw, not being a member of a land-based rock'n'roll band, was closer to the source. If nothing else, he at least lived underwater and had a shark-like appetite.
Possibly to portray him as distinguished enough to rate an honorific, director Robert McKimson (Foghorn Leghorm, Hippety Hopper) dressed Misterjaw in a top hat and tuxedo top. He had a German accent — Arte Johson, who did the character's voice, reprised his live-action role on Laugh-In, even to the point of occasionally using the old catch-phrase, "Verrry interesting". Johnson used a similar voice for Virman Vundabar, a Mr. Miracle villain, in 21st century episodes of the animated Justice League.
Misterjaw's main supporting character was Catfish, who, despite the name, evidently belonged to a marine as opposed to fresh-water species. Catfish had the sidekick/subordinate role, always calling the star "chief" or "boss". He spoke with a Brooklyn accent, supplied by actor Arnold Stang (Top Cat, Herman the Mouse). Antagonists included shark hunter Fearless Freddy, no relation, voiced by Paul Winchell (Dick Dastardly, Zummi Gummi); and potential food Harry Halibut, voiced by Bob Ogle (better known as a writer for Walter Lantz, Filmation and more, than as a voice man).
Misterjaw never had much in the way of media penetration, but his 34 episodes have been run quite a few times over the years. They still turn up from time to time.