Sylvester is on the prowl! He looks quite fed up, too. Tweety has escaped the feline’s claws with every attempt at capture, but the yellow canary always gets away. I have to hand it to Granny’s proud cat, though; her whiskered pet never gives up.
As I mentioned in my last post, Tweety always wins any battle with Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr., the Tuxedo cat who appears in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. As a matter of fact, he appears in a lot of them– a whopping 103 Warner Bros. flicks. Between 1945 and 1966, he was quite the popular cat on the screen.
In addition to his attempts at making a meal of Tweety, Sylvester is best known for his sloppy lisp. In the cartoon, Tweety, Tweety, Tweety, this exchange takes place between Tweety and Sylvester:
Tweety: “I wonder where that puddy tat went to?” Sylvester [swinging on a wooden swing, flattened by a rock crusher]: “Does thith anthwer your question?”
About that name, “Sylvester,” is a pun on silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat, the ancestor of domestic cats.
Interestingly, Sylvester’s many different cartoon directors put their own spin on the cat’s personality. Friz Freleng is the one who directed Sylvester’s first appearance with Tweety in Tweety Pie; and it was the beginning of Sylvester’s desire to capture and munch on his little yellow-feathered enemy.
When Bob Clampett got a hold of him in 1946’s, Kitty Kornered, Sylvester was one of Porky Pig’s pet cats and looked nothing like he does with Tweety. He was voiced by Mel Blanc, though, so he sounded just like you remember.
Next up was Arthur Davis who gave Sylvester two completely different personalities. In Doggone Cats, the feline was a trickster troublemaker who didn’t speak. He spoke with a dopey voice, in Catch as Cats Can, though, and had a dopey personality to match.
Robert McKimson paired Sylvester up with a silent baby kangaroo named “Hippity Hopper,” and then later with his son “Sylvester Junior,” where he unsuccessfully tried to raise the kitty to be a real cat. Lastly, Sylvester and Speedy Gonzales were paired up together.
Finally, Chuck Jones put his spin on the black and white feline. This is when he was paired up with Porky Pig in three horror-themed cartoons.
Looking back over Sylvester’s career, that cat really did have nine lives! His appearance changed, his voice morphed, and his personality went in all sorts of directions. That was one busy feline!