Felix, The Cat (cartoons)

    (Sound films released theatrically since 1927;
     Released for television in the early 1950s;
     Syndicated, 1958 - 1960;
     Syndicated, 1995)

    [Before Walt Disney drew Mickey Mouse using circles for ears 
     since it would be easier to draw him from all angles, another 
     abstract character made of geometric shapes was designed 
     and animated -- "Felix The Cat" has had a very long history 
     indeed -- almost since the beginning of animated motion 
     pictures. You might say that this cat has used up quite 
     a few (but not all) of his "nine lives" over the past more than
     nine decades...and his origin is surprisingly controversial,
     even now...The catty little tale is as follows:

     Young Australian cartoonist Pat Sullivan wasn't able to 
     establish a career as a cartoonist in Sydney. So he first 
     travelled to London in 1909, where he fared no better. 
     Then he arrived in the United States in 1914, and survived 
     doing a series of odd jobs. 
     Luckily at that time silent film producers were eager to have
     a complete program, and needed cartoon shorts between the 
     longer live-action stories for variety and amusement of their
     audiences. By 1915 Sullivan set up a fledgling film animation 
     studio in New York City. He hired a 24-year old named Otto
     Messmer among his first employees.
     The Sullivan Studio created a cartoon character called 
     "Thomas Kat", seen in a cartoon short subject called "The 
     Tail of Thomas Kat" which Sullivan filed with the U.S. Copyright 
     office on March 3, 1917, claiming himself as the author.
     As ClassicThemes contributor Gerald Carr of Australia says
     about this half-reeler, "The program showed the removable 
     tail and the sight gags as the black cat did his amazing 
     Two years later in 1919, Sullivan's studio was contracted by 
     Paramount Pictures (perhaps on the basis of the "Thomas Kat" 
     short) to create a silent film cartoon series called for
     Paramount called "Feline Follies."
     Cartoons were (and are) labor-intensive efforts so, there
     may be many people who bring it too life -- including an
     animation director and even a producer, just as with a
     live-action film.
     Otto Messmer was given directing duties for "Feline Follies."
     And the star cat character that was to evolve into the famous
     "Felix The Cat" was named Felix (for "felicity" -- for
     luck) by Paramount Pictures producer John King.

     A 1991 book "Felix: The Twisted Tale of The World's Most 
     Famous Cat", author John Casemaker contended that the final 
     familiar version of Felix was actually a design of director 
     Otto Messmer, not his boss Pat Sullivan -- whom he said took  
     credit for "Felix" for many years. This claim was first made
     by Messmer in 1967 -- 34 years after Sullivan's death and
     long after anyone else who might have first-hand knowledge 
     of events had passed away.
     However Messmer's claim that he created the cat is one
     that makes Australians furious. And because of the earlier
     "Thomas Kat" film in the U.S. Copyright Office filed under
     Sullivan's name, it may be a claim that is hard to prove.
     Besides, even if Messmer did work on "Thomas Kat" which is 
     likely, perhaps he did so on a "work for hire" basis.
     Of course, diehards on Messmer's side of the debate have
     pointed out that the first instance of the cat -- "Thomas Kat" 
     wasn't the same cat that "Felix" ended up being through the
     contributions made over time by Messmer and others at Paramount.
     Another point in favor of Sullivan: Felix was licensed to 
     King Features Syndicate as a newspaper cartoon drawn under 
     Sullivan's name -- known as "Pat Sullivan's Felix The Cat".
     At any rate -- at this period in history all that can be 
     said for sure is that both Sullivan and Messmer worked on 
     cat character cartoons together, and Felix continued to 
     have "nine lives" throughout animation history...
     And the catty debate rages on....Meeeoww...

     Quite a few "Felix" cartoons were produced during the early 
     decades for use in theatres. Felix was also considered lucky 
     by the 1922 New York Yankees who adopted him as their mascot.
     In 1923 a popular song called "Felix Kept On Walking" was
     written with music by Hubert W. David and lyric by Ed E.
     Bryant and was a novelty in both England and America; (but
     there is no indication it was used on television or in
     sound films later.)

     When sound came to the movies in 1927, Pat Sullivan thought 
     sound was "a fad." But the character was not to be left in 
     the silent era. Lucky Lindbergh kept a Felix doll in his 
     airplane as he crossed the Atlantic in his 1927 solo flight. 
     So eventually sound versions of Felix were produced and
     released by Paramount, scored by James C. ("Jimmy") Bradford.

     During the late 1920s and early 1930s, another tune was
     associated with "Felix" theatrical cartoons -- an English
     traditional tune that somehow got associated with the
     character called "The Grand Old Duke of York" known in the
     U. S. as "A-Hunting We Will Go".

     During the early 1930s, when RCA Victor began experimenting 
     with early efforts to create television, and they used a 
     toy version of Felix rotating on a turntable as a test 
     subject (the toy wouldn't melt in front of the hot lights
     like actors.) But interest in creating new Felix cartoons waned 
     during the 1940s and 1950s when other cartoon characters were 
     being created.

     During the early days of TV, the early series of Paramount 
     "Felix" cartoons created in the 1920s were sometimes seen 
     on various local cartoon shows in packages re-released at
     periodic intervals.

     But it wasn't until the late 1950s when the character was 
     revived by Joe Oriolo for a new series of color cartoons 
     created by Famous Studios productions. Veteran cartoon 
     composer Winston Sharples was commisioned to produce a 
     THEME song for this series which became well known as 
     "Felix, The Wonderful Cat". For two years, new Felix 
     cartoons were made (from 1958 - 1960.) And these were the
     ones most people saw on television over the next 35 years.

     Fast forward to 1995, when Joe Oriolo's son, Don Oriolo, 
     decided to re-invent the character yet again, for a 
     surrealistic cable TV series. Perhaps taking a cue from 
     the title of the 1991 book which told the twisted evolution 
     of the character, he called his series "The Twisted 
     Adventures of Felix The Cat"; two seasons of episodes 
     were produced...]

Theme 1: "Felix, The Cat!"

    [above is title as listed in the ASCAP database;
     title on sheet music "Felix! Felix! Felix, The Cat!";
     Paul Whiteman recorded this, although it is not clear
     when or if it was used with the cartoon series in sound films]

     Composers: Alfred Bryan (ASCAP),
                Max Kortlander (ASCAP) and
                Pete Wendling (ASCAP) 

     1978 Publishers: [Carl] Fisher Music Corp. (ASCAP) and
                      Sam Fox Music Pub. Co. (ASCAP)

     2001 Publishers: Sony Tunes, Inc. (ASCAP)
                         c/o Sony/ATV Tunes, LLC
                         of New York, NY; and
                      WB Music, Inc. (ASCAP)
                         c/o Warner-Chappell Music, Inc.
                         of Los Angeles, CA

     Composition Date: 1928

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:


Theme 2 (circa 1928/1930): "Felix, The Cat (Main Title)"

     Composer: James C. ("Jimmy") Bradford (ASCAP)

     1978 Publisher: [not listed in the 1978 Index of
                      performed compositions]

     2001 Publisher: Cypher Music, Inc.  (ASCAP)
                        a div. of Ivan Mogull Music Corporation 
                        c/o EMI Music Publishing, Inc.
                        of New York, NY

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:


Theme 3 (circa 1930/1940): "The Grand Old Duke Of York (A-Hunting We Will Go)"

    [this tune was known in the U.S. as the nursery rhyme 
     "A-Hunting We Will Go"]

     Composers: *Traditional* [English tune], and
                adaptation by Clive Richardson (British PRS/ASCAP/BMI)

     1978 Publishers: Keith Prowse & Co., Ltd. (PRS) and
                      Sam Fox Music Pub. Co. (ASCAP)

     2001 Publisher: WB Music Corp. (ASCAP)
                        c/o Warner-Chappell Music, Inc.
                        of Los Angeles, CA

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:


Theme 4 (1954): "Felix, The Cat"

    [although Charles Randolph Grean was a TV composer, whose
     best-kown theme was the gothic Soap Opera "Dark Shadows", the
     exact nature of how this was used is unknown at this time...
     since it was written four years before the revival for TV
     produced by Joe Oriolo]

     Composers: Cy Coben (ASCAP) and
                Charles Randolph Grean (ASCAP) 

     1978 Publishers: [listed in the 1978 ASCAP Index of
                       Performed Compositions]

     2001 Publishers: Alley Music Corp. (BMI)
                         c/o Carlin America, Inc.
                         of New York, NY; and
                      Trio Music Co., Inc. (BMI)
                         c/o Leiber & Stoller
                         of Los Angeles, CA

     Copyright Date: Feb. 11, 1954; Eu 347 394.
     Renewal   Date: May   3, 1982; RE-127-906.


Theme 5 (for the 1958 color TV series): "Felix, The Wonderful Cat"

    [ASCAP title variations...
     aka: "Felix, The Wonderful Cat (Main & End Title)";
     aka: "Felix, The Cat (Theme)"]

     Composer: Winston Sharples (ASCAP)
              [professional name of Winston Singleton Sharples, Sr.]

     1978 Publisher: Famous Music Corporation (ASCAP)

     2001 Publisher: Famous Music Corporation (ASCAP)
                        of Los Angeles, CA

     Copyright Date: Oct. 22, 1958; Eu 547 134.
     Renewal   Date: Jan.  2, 1986; RE-276-631.


Theme 6 (for the 1995 cable TV series): "Felix, The Cat (End Credits)"

    [BMI title variations...
     aka: "Felix End Credits"]

     Composer: Nathan Tsung Hsien Wang (BMI) 

     2001 Publisher: F R I Music (BMI) 
                        c/o Zomba Songs, Inc.
                        of New York, NY

     Copyright Date:
     Renewal   Date:


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