|Created by Pat Sullivan, Otto Messmer, and John King in 1919, Felix the Cat began as a method of enhancing the Paramount Screen Magazine newsreels with bursts of cartoon relief.
Felix was also technically the world's first television star, when, in 1928, a toy statue of the cat was chosen as the image to test RCA's experimental 60-line television transmitter.
His adorable appearance and removable, remarkably multi-functional tail helped Felix achieve a level of popularity that he maintained until 1929, when creator Sullivan refused to convert to that new-fangled sound thing.
But cats do indeed have nine lives, and it was not long before Felix adapted to the world of sound in a series of cartoons produced in Technicolor by Van Buren studios in 1936, and a 1958 series produced by Casper the Friendly Ghost creator Joe Oriolo.
In these syndicated serials, Felix was equipped with a magical bag of tricks that could give even Mary Poppins' carpet bag a run for its money. Because the bag seemed to hold the perfect item for every occasion, it was greedily coveted by the Professor, Felix's cunning, yet usually unsuccessful rival. Even with the help of his sidekick, the bulldog Rock Bottom, the Professor would inevitably fail in his attempts to steal the precious bag. Felix also faced a formidable, but equally ineffectual enemy in the form of the sinister Master Cylinder.
The coveted cat did have friends, too, including a bizarre little eskimo named Vavoom, who could start an avalanche simply by shouting his name. The Professor's brainy nephew, Poindexter, was also more of a friend than foe for Felix, and his name left a legacy as the nickname of particularly bright children for decades.
Another one of Felix's enemies, albeit an unexpected one, was the show's tight budget, which often yielded rough, slow animation. But Felix survived this setback, too, creeping into the hearts of children, and of course, onto the walls of many a home in the form of that ubiquitous eye-shaking clock.
In 1994, CBS brought the resourceful feline back for a series of five-second commercial bumpers. The spots sparked a resurgence in Felix's popularity, and one year later, the cat came back in the all-new The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.