Felix the Cat was created by animator Otto Messmer who worked at Pat Sullivan’s animation studio. Pat Sullivan claimed credit for this well-known cartoon cat character. Both Messmer and Sullivan agreed that the character was inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Cat That Walked by Himself.
Sullivan asked Messmer to draw Felix and he did so at his home in his spare time. Until 1921 the cat had no name, when Felix the Cat was released.
Paramount Screen Magazine producer John King coined the name taking it from the words: ‘feline’ (meaning cat) and felicity (dictionary definition: meaning intense happiness or the ability to express one’s thoughts appropriately). Jeff Rovin (see below) says he chose the name for good luck.
Felix’s first cartoon was released in 1919. It was part of a weekly one-reel Paramount Screen Magazine package according to Jeff Rovin.
Felix starred in 150 silent theatrical cartoons from 1921 to 1928. He failed to make the transition to sound and was overwhelmed by Mickey Mouse.
He made a successful return in television in 1960 in a syndicated show with 260, four-minute cartoons produced by Joe Oriolo.
Source: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Cartoon Animals by Jeff Rovin.
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