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Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse is an animated superhero mouse character created by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox.


[edit] History

The character was created by story man Izzy Klein as a super-powered housefly named Superfly. Studio head Paul Terry changed the character into a cartoon mouse instead. Originally created as a parody of Superman, he first appeared in 1942 in a theatrical animated short titled The Mouse of Tomorrow. The original name of the character was Super Mouse, but it was soon changed to Mighty Mouse when Paul Terry learned that another character with the same name was being published in comic books. Super Mouse appeared briefly in the Marvel Comics interpretation of the character and was nicknamed Terry the First, as he was the first version of the character.

First appearance of Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse originally had a blue costume with a red cape, like Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with a red cape, his most popular colors.[1] As with other imitations of Superman, Mighty Mouse's super powers include flight, super strength, and invulnerability. He has demonstrated the use of X-ray vision in at least one episode, while during several cartoons he used a form of telekinesis that allowed him to command inanimate objects and turn back time (as in the cartoons "The Johnstown Flood" and "Krakatoa"). Other cartoons have him leaving a red contrail during flight which he can manipulate at will like a band of solid flexible matter.

The initial formula of each story consisted of an extended setup of a crisis which needs extraordinary help to resolve, after which Mighty Mouse appears to save the day. Mighty Mouse was originally voiced by Roy Halee, Sr., and later by Tom Morrison in some cartoons.

The early operatic Mighty Mouse cartoons often portrayed Mighty Mouse as a ruthless fighter. He would dole out a considerable amount of punishment, subduing opponent cats to the point of giving up their evil plan and running away. Mighty Mouse would then chase down the escaping cats, and continue beating them mercilessly, usually hurling or punching them miles away to finish the fight. A favorite move is to suddenly fly up to just under a much larger opponent's chin and throw a blinding flurry of punches that leaves the enemy reeling.

Mighty Mouse had two mouse girlfriends named Pearl Pureheart (in the cartoons) and Mitzi (in the comics during the 1950s and 1960s), and his arch-enemy is an evil villain cat named Oil Can Harry (who originated as a human from earlier Terrytoons as the enemy of Fanny Zilch). These characters were created for a series of Mighty Mouse cartoons that spoofed the old cliffhanger serials of the days of silent film, as well as the classic operettas of stage that were still popular at the time. The cartoons, beginning with "A Fight to the Finish" (1947), usually began with Mighty Mouse and Pearl Pureheart already in a desperate situation, as if they were the next chapter of the serial. The characters often sang mock opera songs during these cartoons (e.g., Pearl: "Oil Can Harry, you're a villain!"; Oil Can Harry: "I know it, but it's a lot of fun..."). Mighty Mouse sang tenor, Pearl a soprano, and Oil Can Harry an alto/bass. Mighty Mouse was also known for singing, "Here I come to save the day!" when flying into action. Mighty Mouse's home town is Mouseville, populated mostly by anthropomorphic cartoon mice.

Mighty Mouse fought other villains, though most of them appeared in only one or two cartoons. In at least two cartoons from 1949 and 1950 he faced a huge, dim-witted, but super-strong cat named Julius Pinhead "Schlabotka" (this cat's name was only spoken and never spelled out), voiced by Dayton Allen, whose strength rivaled Mighty Mouse's own. In another cartoon, titled "The Green Line" (1944), the cats live on one side of the main street of a town and the mice on the other, with a green line down the middle of the street serving as the dividing line. They agree to keep the peace as long as no one crosses it. An evil entity, a Satan cat, comes and starts the cats and mice fighting. Mighty Mouse appears and the evil spirit materializes tridents to attack him. This maneuver fails, and the devil cat disappears in a puff of smoke, like an airplane crashing to the ground. At the end, Mighty Mouse is cheered by mice and cats alike.

In the episode "Krakatoa" (1945), Mighty Mouse lassoed the super-volcano Krakatoa, saving the island's inhabitants from the pyroclastic flow. Most memorably, a love-interest for Mighty Mouse makes her appearance, Krakatoa Katie. One line of her theme song is "Krakatoa Katie, she ain't no lady."

Mighty Mouse was not extraordinarily popular in theatrical cartoons, but was still Terrytoons' most popular character. What made him a cultural icon was television. Paul Terry sold the Terrytoon company to CBS in 1955. The network began running Mighty Mouse Playhouse in December, 1955. It remained on the air for nearly twelve years (and featured The Mighty Heroes during the final season). Mighty Mouse cartoons became a staple of children's television programming for a period of over thirty years, from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Despite the character's popularity on TV, Terrytoons produced only three further Mighty Mouse theatrical cartoons in the 1959'1961 time frame. The company evidently believed that the existing library of episodes was enough to keep youngsters tuning in to CBS every Saturday morning.

Mighty Mouse was also featured on Tom Scholz's Les Paul guitar.

Some early vinyls credit the original 1955 Mighty Mouse Playhouse theme song to The Terrytooners, Mitch Miller and Orchestra, but recent publishing has generally credited The Sandpipers.[2]

[edit] Comics

Several publishers put out Mighty Mouse comic books. There were two main titles: Mighty Mouse and The Adventures of Mighty Mouse.

Mighty Mouse

The Adventures of Mighty Mouse (renaming of Terry's Comics, where Mighty Mouse appeared)

  • St. John Publications #126-128 (1955)
  • Pines Comics #129-144 (1956'1959)
  • Dell Comics #145-155 (1959'1961)
  • Gold Key Comics #156-160 (1962'1963)
  • Dell Comics #161-?? (1963'??)

Mighty Mouse, Marvel Comics, #1-10 (1990), based on the Ralph Bakshi version (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures)

[edit] Revivals

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Filmation made television cartoons starring Mighty Mouse and fellow Terrytoon characters Heckle and Jeckle in a show called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, where two new characters were created: a vampire duck named Quacula (not to be confused with Count Duckula), and Harry's bumbling, overweight, but swift-running henchman, Swifty. The show premiered in 1979 and lasted for two seasons. It even spawned a limited theatrical release matinee movie, Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase, released December 10, 1982. In the Filmation series and movies, Mighty Mouse and Oil Can Harry were voiced by veteran voice artist Alan Oppenheimer, and Pearl Pureheart was voiced by Diane Pershing.

During the 1980s, animator Ralph Bakshi created a new series of Mighty Mouse cartoons entitled Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. In this series, Mighty Mouse had a real identity, Mike Mouse (both identities voiced by Patrick Pinney), and a sidekick, Scrappy Mouse (voiced by actress Dana Hill), the little orphan. Its heavy satirical tone and humor makes it a collector's item even today; many collectors of older TV series seek out episodes of the Bakshi Mighty Mouse series. The series was canceled after two seasons due to the controversy surrounding an episode in which Mighty Mouse sniffed a white powder that resembled cocaine, as asserted by media watchdog Reverend Donald Wildmon.[3] CBS and Bakshi denied this assertion. At first they claimed Mighty Mouse was sniffing his "lucky chunk of cheese," but later said the substance was "crushed flowers."

Mighty Mouse has not been seen since Marvel Comics' 10-issue comic book series (set in the New Adventures continuity) in 1990 and 1991, except for an arcade game by Atari and a 2001 "The power of cheese" TV commercial. That commercial, set in a city not unlike New York, shows Mighty Mouse dining calmly on cheese in a restaurant while utterly unconcerned with a scene of chaos and terror visibly unfolding in the street outside. The chaos and terror come in the form of an invasion by a fleet of flying saucers. The commercial was hastily pulled off the air in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[citation needed]

Nickelodeon is currently working on a CGI Mighty Mouse feature film (scheduled to release some time in 2013, according to IMDB), with Barry E. Jackson providing conceptual art, and with screenwriting by Maurice Chauvet and Christopher Vail. A CGI TV series will follow the film. A Mighty Mouse history book is in the works and will be released to tie-in with the movie.[4]

The rights to Mighty Mouse are now divided as a result of the 2006 corporate split of Viacom (the former owner of the Terrytoons franchise) into two separate companies. CBS Operations (a unit of the current CBS Corporation) owns the ancillary rights and trademarks to the character, while Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD holds home video rights. The first official release of Mighty Mouse material has been announced and what is now CBS Television Distribution has television syndication rights (the shorts are currently out of circulation). They are also being used under license by Apple Inc.'s Apple Mighty Mouse.

[edit] DVD releases

  • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the first official release of Mighty Mouse material, was released on January 5, 2010.[5]
  • The animated short "Wolf Wolf", the only Mighty Mouse cartoon in the public domain, has been released on low-budget DVDs and VHS tapes numerous times.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] References

  1. ^ Mighty Mouse in his yellow/red costume
  2. ^ Sandpiper Stuff, news from me (Archives), January 18, 2004
  3. ^ "Mighty Mouse Flying High On Flowers?", New York Times, 1988
  4. ^ New Mighty Mouse CGI Movie, The Official Ralph Bakshi Website, March 20, 2005
  5. ^ Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures official site

[edit] External links

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