TWEETY BIRDMedium: Theatrical Animation
Released by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1942
Creator: Bob Clampett
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meet his most famous adversary in that first outing — his role was to defend himself from a pair of Hollywood-caricature cats named Babbit and Catstello. Nor was he called by name — like Chip'n'Dale, Wile E. Coyote, and many other cartoon stars, the name came only when he'd appeared twice. He did, however, utter his most famous line, "I tawt I taw a puddy tat." And the child-like, ever-so-innocent demeanor with which he demolished his antagonists was there right from the start.
He made two more Clampett-directed appearances with second-string opponents. Finally, in Tweetie Pie (1947), he matched wits with Sylvester Pussycat, whose prior films had been equally nondescript, and history was made. That cartoon became the first from the Warner Bros. Studio to win an Oscar. Tweety was cast as the pet of an elderly woman named Granny, who never suspected what a little stinker he was. He was never again seen without Sylvester, and seldom without Granny.
Clampett was not there to share in the glory, however, having left the studio to concentrate on properties of his own, such as Beany & Cecil. Friz Freleng directed all subsequent Tweety & Sylvester cartoons except the last. These included another Oscar winner (Birds Anonymous, 1957) and a nominee (Sandy Claws, 1954). The series ended with Hawaiian Aye Aye (1964), directed by Gerry Chiniquy.
Tweety became a comic book character in the late 1940s, when a "Tweety & Sylvester" series was added to the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics title. In 1952, the pair got their own comic, which ran until 1984, with a brief gap in the early 1960s. Today, he makes regular appearances in the revived Looney Tunes title.
The Tweety & Sylvester series is among the few to become more popular after going out of regular production. Fueled by televised reruns of their old cartoons, public interest in the characters has soared, to the point where they now rival Bugs and Daffy themselves as superstars.
For that reason, when Warner Bros. started its TV network and went looking for Saturday morning stars, the cat and bird were the only ones from the old crew to be featured in a new series, Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. In this series, they, along with Granny (played voice actress June Foray, best known for her role as Rocket J. Squirrel — Foray had voiced Granny in the 1950s) and a third pet, Hector the Bulldog, solve baffling crimes. It debuted in 1995.
Tweety's star continues to rise. He appeared with the rest of the Looney Tunes crew in Space Jam, and has always been big with the T-shirt and lunchbox crowd. In 1998, he and Sylvester were the subject of a U.S. postage stamp. Time will tell if he ever succeeds in ousting Bugs and Daffy from their preeminent positions, but if an innocent appearance combined with sneaky malice count for anything, he has a fighting chance.