Tom and Jerry

Tom and Jerry are among my favorite cartoons. Tom is a gray (sort of bluish) cat who unwillingly shares a home with Jerry, a keen and intelligent brown mouse. These two characters definitely manage to get on each other’s nerves. Tom has been given the task of protector of the home. Meanwhile, Jerry always manages to get him in trouble.

They seem to have a love-hate relationship, particularly in the early cartoons. In more recent versions, these two were portrayed as good buddies. In the earlier versions, however, they are pit against each other: Tom is always chasing Jerry, and Jerry is constantly provoking Tom. Usually, Jerry manages to outwit Tom. On rare occasions, they join forces, and even appear friendly with each other.

In many episodes, we hear the voice of Mammy Two Shoes telling Tom not to break anything and keep the house tidy, though we never get to see her face! We do hear her screaming at the top of her lungs: Tomassss!!!, whenever he gets in any kind of trouble. Mammy remains controversial as she is regarded as a character with racist overtones.

This pair was the perfect odd couple, with opposite personalities and very distinct traits. Tom is serious and neurotic, while Jerry is laid back and adventurous. However, they both have a flair for the dramatic. One of my favorite episodes is the one in which Tom and Jerry dance the paso doble. Totally outrageous and fun!

Definitely, I believe that Jerry is way more intelligent and wittier that Tom. That’s the reason why Jerry always ends up winning!

Interestingly, in early cartoons, we never hear Tom and Jerry speak.

Secondary characters

The Tom and Jerry cartoon also included other beloved characters. Here are two of the best-known secondary characters of the series.

Spike: The bulldog that lives in the doghouse in the back yard. Spike and Tom don’t get along too well, so Tom is always trying to avoid Spike. Jerry takes advantage of this situation and always tries to pit them against each other. For example, Spike likes to sleep undisturbed, and any disturbances will make him particularly angry and violent. In many episodes, Jerry wakes him up using very creative methods while Tom is left to confront Spike’s wrath.

Mammy-Two-Shoes: She’s Tom’s African-American owner (even though in many episodes she appears as the housemaid). We only see her from the waist down, but we do hear her advising Tom to take care of the house and not to break anything. We know that Tom is in deep trouble when she screams her signature Tomassss!!!.

Butch: A black, alley cat that appeared in several Tom & Jerry films. He's not only Tom's rival in love, but also he wants to catch Jerry for himself.

Tyke: Spike's young son.

Early cartoons

When I was growing up, Tom and Jerry was one of my favorite cartoons. Even though I would usually root for Jerry, I kind of felt bad for Tom.

I didn’t know at the time that this beloved cartoon had been around for quite sometime. In fact, these characters made their first appearance in the 1940’s film Puss Gets the Boot. At that time, however, Tom was known as Jasper. This short film went on to be nominated for an Academy Award. It didn’t win, but it did become very popular in theaters.

William Hannah and Joseph Barbera (who belonged to the Rudolf Ising’s division at MGM’s animation studios)were the creators of Tom and Jerry. Much later, after the success of their cartoon, the studios held a contest to change the name of the cat and mouse team. Animator John Carr won the contest, and the rest is history.

Here's additional information on T&J's cartoons.

From the 1940s to the 1950s

During the 1940’s Tom experienced an image-makeover, appearing more streamlined. The series also took on a quicker pace, and the episodes became more violent.

Throughout the 1940’s Tom and Jerry proved to be very successful at the theater. That changed during the 1950s, with the advent of television. In 1957, the MGM animation department was closed. The last Tom and Jerry film produced by MGM was released on August 1, 1958.

Hanna and Barbera went on to create their own television studios in 1957, Hanna-Barbera Productions.

The 1960s

In 1960 MGM started to produce new Tom & Jerry short-films. Producer William Snyder contacted Gene Deitch, a Czech animator, to make Tom & Jerry’s shorts in Deitch animation studios in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In all, there were thirteen shorts filmed during this time. Many believe that the shorts created by Deitch had a surreal quality. Critics claim that Deitch’s shorts were the worst of the Tom & Jerry films.

Chuck Jones, an American animator who came from Warner Brothers, produced more than thirty Tom and Jerry shorts during the 1960’s. In 1967, MGM ended the production of this dynamic duo’s short films.

TV Stars!

After being a huge success in film, this pair became very popular television stars. In 1965, short films created by the animation team of Hannah and Barbera made it to television, though they were heavily edited (most of the violence was cut out, voice overs where done by different actors, and even Mammy was edited out from many episodes).

I really liked this new version of the series. I must say that I always had a soft spot for Tom. I really felt bad when he was outwitted by Jerry. I felt that Tom did what he thought was right. Indeed, every time that Jerry won felt bittersweet. Even though Tom was often-times portrayed as “the villain”, he was doing his job, which was to protect the house (especially from mice).

I think that this cartoon struck a cord with many fans because of the strong chemistry between Tom & Jerry.

From the 70’s to the present

Hanna and Barbera began producing new Tom & Jerry cartoons in 1975. These new episodes were especially produced for TV. These cartoons appeared on ABC. The series ran from 1975 to 1977. Interestingly enough, in the episodes created during this time Tom and Jerry became friends.

CBS also ran Tom & Jerry cartoons from 1980 to 1982. Filmation Studios, in partnership with MGM, produced these TV episodes.

The Mansion Cat, a television special featuring this cat and mouse duo, debuted on the Cartoon network in 2000.

Tom and Jerry Films: A Partial List

  • Puss Gets the Boot (1940)
  • The Night Before Christmas (1941)
  • The Yankee Doodle Mouse (1943)
  • Mouse Trouble (1944)
  • The Cat Concerto (1946)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Mouse (1947)
  • The Two Musketeers (1952)
  • Touche Pussycat (1954)
  • Tom and Jerry: The Movie (1993)

Gift Ideas

Looking for something unique for that special cat lover who also happens to be a Tom & Jerry fan? Here’s a list of gift ideas to help you get started.

Multimedia gifts:

  • Movies, DVDs: You can find DVD collections of Tom & Jerry movies and cartoons. This is a great gift for collectors.

  • Video Games: There are Tom and Jerry video games for Super Nintendo, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube, among others.

Fun and affordable gifts:

Clothing items such as: T-shirts, caps, and hats. Also consider mugs, stuffed toys and posters.

Note: All the copyrighted characters mentioned here are trademarks of their owners.

Related Topics

Tom-and-Jerry Cartoon Information

Tom-and-Jerry Movies

Tom & Jerry Pictures

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