Who drew Sylvester the Cat?

The immensely talented Friz Freleng (Aug 21, 1905 – Maay 26, 1995) drew Sylvester the Cat. He said that the cat was designed “subtly like a clown [with] a big red nose and a very low crotch… to look like he was wearing baggy pants”. Incidentally, Mel Blanc provided the cat’s voice. Sylvester starred in 104 cartoons and was a Warner Brothers cartoon star. Sylvester began his screen career in Life with Feathers in 1945. The cat is famous for his saying “Sufferin’ succotash”. You can read a bit more about Sylvester by clicking on this link if you wish.

Friz Freleng (who was often credited as I. Freleng) directed more cartoons than any other director at the Warner Brothers studio (a total of 266). He is the most honoured of the Warner directors. He won five Academy Awards and three Emmy awards. Not only did he draw Sylvester the Cat but he developed or introduced several of the studio’s biggest stars including: Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Yosemite Sam and Speedy Gonzales.

He was the senior director at Warners’ Termite Terrace studio. He got his nickname ‘Friz’ from his friend, Hugh Harman. He initially nicknamed him “Congressman Frisby” after a fictional senator. It was shortened to Friz.

Friz Freleng began his career in animation at United Film Ad Service. He met his friend to be, Hugh Harman, a fellow animator at this organisation. Another friend of his there was Ub Iwerks whose friend was Walt Disney. Walt Disney moved to Hollywood and put out a call for his Kansas City colleagues to join him. Friz Freleng waited but moved to California in January 1927 to join the Walt Disney studio. He took the place of Rollin Hamilton who apparently had suffered abuse from Walt Disney.

In an interview with Michael Barrier, Freleng said that Walt had shown patience and remorse in letters (written to him?) prior to him joining the organisation. However, apparently Friz said that Walt Disney did not demonstrate that attitude to him and became abusive and he harassed him.

Freleng teamed up with Harman and Ising to create their own studio. Freleng died on May 26, 1995. The Warner Brothers animated TV series The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and the Loony Tunes cartoon From Hare to Eternity are both dedicated to his memory.

There is a Facebook page dedicated to him – click here.


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