Checking In On Felix The Cat
Felix the Cat, created by cartoonist Otto Messmer, first appeared in the short film "Feline Follies" in the 1919. His huge eyes and infectious grin quickly brought him fame throughout the world as the first true star of animation. His comic strip was soon carried in newspapers all over the world and his adventures are still published to this very day.
Audiences were crazy about Felix in the early part of the twentieth century. They were tired of the same old silent movie stars and Felix was clever, emotional, independent but always ready to lend a helping hand to someone in need. He was at once tough and sentimental, scrappy and generous and endowed with a unique sense of humor. One has only to check out a DVD of his early cartoons or look them up on internet video sites to see how easy it was for the whole world to fall in love with the little black cat. There were songs written about him; "Felix Kept on Walking" was a London favorite in 1923, followed by "Here He is Again". There were several songs written for the popular feline and most because hits.
Everyone loves Felix and Messmer's assistant, Joe Oriolo, was no exception. He began working with the character and was soon devoting all his time to the cat. With Messmer's blessing, he began to hone Felix' image and personality, creating new characters for him to interact with and who could showcase his personality. Perhaps one of his most famous accoutrements was his Magic Bag of Tricks, pulled out whenever he was in a tight spot.
Felix became so famous that Charles Lindbergh chose him to be his mascot on his famous flight across the Atlantic. Felix the Cat was the first image ever televised over the public airwaves! In 1928, engineers used a 13" paper mache figure of Felix to adjust the quality of the picture transmitted in the early days of television. For nearly a decade, Felix helped make television transmissions as sharp as possible.
Eventually, Joe Oriolo's son Don joined his father to be the only artists to draw Felix. As Felix became more and more popular with adults and children alike, his image began to appear on lamps and clocks, cards and jewelry and was even made into a doll! Joe eventually produced 264 five minutes cartoons starring Felix that were immediately put into television syndication. Felix was loved around the world, with audiences clamoring for more cartoons and more merchandise. It was a cartoon character's dream come true.
Felix became a movie star in the 1980's when Don wrote and produced "Felix the Cat, the Movie". It was released in VCR format and the Disney Channel repeatedly showed the film for ten years. Encouraged by audience enthusiasm, Don took Felix to the publishing world and created a comic book for him.
Felix's fame snowballed as a new generation of children embraced his antics and good humor. Wendy's restaurants sold more than nine million kids' meals with Felix as the theme, followed by national chains such as Arby's and Dairy Queen. Don decided to broaden the appeal to children by creating "Baby Felix and Friends", a cartoon series that became instantly successful by showing a young Felix's exploits in learning to use his bag of tricks.
Felix is still a fresh presence in the 21st century, adorning handbags, purses, shirts and even household appliances as well as being featured in many top fashion magazines. He's been immortalized in slot machines, holiday films and on the logo of the American International Carnival that travelled throughout China in 2004. The Daihatsu car company even produced a Felix Mira model!
About the Author:
Larry Banders writes about movie memorabilia and TV collectibles.
He also covers tips on saving money with Checks Unlimited discount codes when buying
cheap personal bank checks from printers like Checks In The Mail.