PUNKIN PUSS AND MUSHMOUSEOriginal Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1964
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Herman & Katnip, Terrytoons' Percy & Little Roquefort, and of course, the pair those others were imitating, MGM's Tom & Jerry, had all been around for years. Somehow, placing the predator and prey in an Ozarks-like setting and modifying their natural conflict into a Hatfield/McCoy-style feud didn't make it seem fresh and original. Nor did the fact that it was produced by Hanna-Barbera, whose principals, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, had created Tom & Jerry, turn it into a wellspring of creativity.
This particular cat (Punkin' Puss) and mouse (Mushmouse) starred in one of the back segments of The Magilla Gorilla Show, which debuted in syndication on January 14, 1964. The derivative nature of their basic situation (typical of Hanna-Barbera) was echoed in Magilla's debt to the studio's own Yogi Bear (himself a copy of Disney's Humphrey Bear), in that Magilla's relationship with the owner of the pet store where he lived was very similar to Yogi's with park ranger John Smith. The third segment, Ricochet Rabbit, was just a typical western sheriff with a couple of riffs borrowed from Speedy Gonzales.
Punkin' Puss's voice was done by Allan Melvin, who was also heard in Hong Kong Phooey, The Kwicky Koala Show and elsewhere. Mushmouse was Howard Morris, who played Atom Ant, Breezly Bruin and many other roles. The segment remained a part of Magilla's show when it was picked up by ABC, in 1966. A total of 23 episodes were made, the last of which aired in 1967.
Insulting stereotypes of African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Americans of practically every other ethnicity were well on their way to being excised from the media in 1964. But the insulting stereotypes represented by Punkin' Puss & Mushmouse (like those of the later Hillbilly Bears) were aimed at residents of the U.S.'s Southeastern region, and that was (and, to a large extent, remains even today) perfectly acceptable. Despite their political correctitude, they didn't become outstanding stars. They had some toys etc., but no more than could be expected of non-headliners such as themselves. They did star in a single issue of a Gold Key comic book, dated September, 1965, tho the title was slightly altered (Mushmouse & Punkin Puss).
After the 23 episodes had run their course, they were seen as occasional reruns, but sightings became less frequent, to the point where they're practically forgotten today. Unlike Yakky Doodle, Touché Turtle and a lot of other minor Hanna-Barbera characters, these two never became part of any ensemble shows, such as Yogi's Space Race or Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, but were allowed to fade into obscurity.