Little Bits of History

Here He Comes to Save the Day

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 10, 2014
Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

December 10, 1955: Mighty Mouse Playhouse takes to the air. The cartoon series featured Mighty Mouse and aired on CBS between this date and 1966. The superhero mouse was not extraordinarily popular in theaters, but even so he was Terrytoons’ shining star. He became a national icon because of his long stint on the small screen. Most short film studios, both live-action and cartoon, were declining by the 1950s as television captured more of the viewing audiences’ time. Limited animation techniques were lower in cost and taking precedence. Paul Terry sold the entire Terrytoon company to CBS in 1955 and they began running shorts on this day. Mighty Mouse cartoons were popular with children through the 1980s.

Terrytoons was founded in 1929 and was responsible for creating many cartoon characters. Mighty Mouse was just one of many which included Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Good, Sourpuss, Dinky Duck, and Luno. The “New Terrytoons” era had additional characters available including Deputy Dawg and The Mighty Heroes. Even after the company officially closed in 1968, the film library remained and was rereleased to theaters by Fox. The cartoons lived on in television reruns especially the series of Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dawg. The rights to the library were acquired by USA Network in 1989 and they have not pursued continued airing of the cartoons.

Paul Terry was born in California in 1887 and became one of the most prolific film producers in history. He produced over 1,300 cartoons between 1915 and when he retired in 1955. In 1904, he began working as a news photographer and did newspaper cartooning. Ten years later, he became interested in animation after seeing Gertie the Dinosaur by Winsor McCay. Terry made his first film, Little Herman, which sold in 1915. After attempting to work on his own with limited success, he joined the JR Bray Studios in 1916 where he produced and directed eleven Farmer Al Falfa films. The next year, he left Bray and opened Paul Terry Productions. He closed his studio and joined the Army and fought during World War I.

In 1920, Terry and Amadee J Van Beuren opened Fables Studios and began producing a series of Aesop’s Film Fables. Terry began experimenting with sound and released Dinner Time two months before Steamboat Willie – Disney’s debut. Van Beuren and Terry split ways and Terrytoons was formed by Terry alone and it was there he began working on his stable of cartoon characters. He was quick to adopt new techniques which helped with production. He wished to retire in 1955 and sold his company to CBS. He died in 1971 at the age of 84.

Disney is the Tiffany of animation. I’m the Woolworth. – Paul Terry

All cartoon characters and fables must be exaggeration, caricatures. It is the very nature of fantasy and fable. – Walt Disney

When we constantly ask for miracles, we’re unraveling the fabric of the world. A world of continuous miracles would not be a world, it would be a cartoon. – Douglas Coupland

Kids cannot follow stories. They don’t know what the hell is going on in a cartoon. They like to see funny visual things happening. – John Kricfalusi

Also on this day: Stop! Go! – In 1868, the first traffic signal is used for the railroads.
Giving All – In 1907, a riot broke out in Trafalgar Square against the use of vivisection.
Nobel Prizes – In 1901, the first Nobel Prizes were awarded.
Two Marks – In 1884, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published.

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