The real hero of the Tom and Jerry saga was a chap called John Carr. He was the humble animator who won a studio-wide competition to come up with permanent names for the cat and mouse. His suggestion of Tom and Jerry apparently won him $50 – and helped define two cartoon immortals. We hope he spent his winnings wisely.
Tom and Czerry
Tom and Jerry are as American as apple pie. Except, that is, for a period in the 60s when the cartoons were made in Czechoslovakia. The 13 Czech episodes were very different in tone, with harder-edged violence, eerie, echoing sound effects and an often strange atmosphere that continues to divide opinion to this day. Though as lovers of the bizarre and surreal, we think they’re ace.
What's in a name?
It's unthinkable that Tom and Jerry could ever NOT have been called Tom and Jerry. But in their very first outing in 1940, Tom was actually called Jasper, while Jerry – though nameless in the cartoon itself – was referred to as Jinx by the animators! The cat’s out of the bag now…
How’s this for a shocker? In 1975 Tom and Jerry became friends. Best friends. In fact they travelled around the world together, competing in sports, solving mysteries, and forming a cosy bromance. But it didn’t last forever. They were soon rivals and back to their old tricks!
Aww, aren't they cute!
Like a lot of kid shows, Tom and Jerry were subjected to yet another huge reinvention in the 1990s. A sort of "prequel" series was made about their early years. Think of it as a bit like Muppet Babies, only with sudden and painful injuries.
Not Tom and Not Jerry
You're not a top show until people start copying you. Tom and Jerry were once aped by a knock-off series called Herman and Katnip. The antics of this particular cat and mouse aren't that well-remembered today, which is odd since its theme tune is super catchy. If you’re a fan of ear worms, check it out below. If not, keep reading!
The forgotten spin-off
Bet you didn't know Tom and Jerry had a spin-off! Made in the 1950s, it was called Spike & Tyke and featured the adventures of that big bulldog we often saw beating Tom up. It only lasted two episodes. Not because it was rubbish (we actually thought it was pretty fun), but because the studio closed. Ouch.
Cat got your tongue?
It's a myth that Tom and Jerry were both silent characters. They both uttered lines throughout the decades, including a haunting line from our favourite episode. After being involved in a nuclear explosion caused by a mouse that the government said wasn’t dangerous, a soot-blackened Tom leaned into shot and proclaimed “Don’t you believe it”. For some reason it echoed… And we haven’t been able to forget it since!
Tom and Jerry were set to star in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but legal wranglings stopped it from happening. The duo had already appeared in live action films before then, however. Our favourite appearance was in 1945's Anchors Aweigh, when Jerry stole the show in a dance sequence with Gene Kelly. It was foot-tapping perfection.
That’s not all folks
So who actually created Tom and Jerry? It was animation's most successful ever partnership – William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The duo didn't rest on their laurels either, later forming the studio that gave us The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, Top Cat, The Smurfs and countless other icons. We pretty much owe our childhood to these guys!
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