SYLVESTER PUSSYCATMedium: Theatrical Animation
Released by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1945
Creator: Friz Freleng
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Warner Bros. cartoon directed by Friz Freleng. The Pussycat's potential was recognized by several Warner directors, who moved quickly to use him in a variety of contexts.
Hop, Look and Listen (1948) was the first of many cartoons in which director Robert McKimson paired him with Hippety Hopper, a baby kangaroo whom Sylvester repeatedly mistook for a giant mouse. Many of these cartoons also featured Sylvester Jr., hiding his face in a paper bag in shame over the fact that his father couldn't defeat a mouse. In 1955, Freleng began to play him against Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all Mexico. Chuck Jones occasionally co-starred him with Porky Pig. In the Jones version, Porky would unknowingly enter a dangerous situation, but Sylvester, cast as Porky's pet and therefore unable to speak, was powerless to warn him.
Sylvester's best-known role, by far, was as the foil of Tweety Bird, an innocent-looking little imp who delighted in visiting mayhem on any "puddy tat" unwise enough to antagonize him. The Freleng-directed "Tweety & Sylvester" series ran from 1947-64, garnering two Oscars and a third nomination.
Other Oscar material Sylvester appeared in include three nominees and a winner in which he played opposite Speedy Gonzales. And aside from his first appearance, he was in one nominated film without a "name" co-star — Mouse & Garden (1960), directed by Freleng. His final appearance in a theatrical cartoon was as a supporting character to Speedy, in Cats & Bruises (1965).
Sylvester first appeared in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies comic book in 1948, as a foil for Porky. Later that year, a "Tweety & Sylvester" series was added to that title, and from then on, one was seldom seen in comics without the other. In 1952, the pair got their own comic, which continued to be published until 1984.
It is his association with Tweety to which Sylvester owes his star status in modern cartoons, as well — Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, which, starting in 1995, aired on the Warner Bros. television channel, is based on the pair's long-running and highly popular synergy. In 1998, they appeared together on a U.S. postage stamp.
But those old cartoons with Speedy, Porky and Hippety Hopper, and with Sylvester by himself, still air on TV. So it will be a long time before the non-Tweety portion of his career is completely forgotten.