10 Lesser-known Tom and Jerry Facts – the Favorite Cartoon Series

Don’t you miss the days when you can just crawl up in bed and spend your time watching Tom and Jerry terrorize each other? Well, for many, they have been the most beloved characters of our childhood. There’s no doubt that we immensely love them, but there are still few Tom and Jerry facts that we bet you didn’t know. Well, go ahead and read to discover some lesser-known Tom and Jerry facts.

1. The Tom and Jerry series was made in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who also created beloved shows like Yogi Bear, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, The Smurfs, The Flintstones, etc.

Joseph Barbera and William Hanna pose with some of their cartoon characters
Image credit: AP via dailytelegraph.com.au

One of the most famous and the most loved cartoon series globally, Tom and Jerry never cease to amaze its fans even today. Many of you might not know this but Tom and Jerry started a long time ago. The animated series was created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.

Hanna and Barbera were part of the MGM cartoon studio since the early 1930s. When MGM took a hit with their Captain and the Kids comic strip, Barbera and Hanna were brought together to direct films for the unit. Barbera, being the storyteller, suggested a cat-and-mouse cartoon comedy and named it Puss Gets the Boot. Even though the other members of the unit didn’t think of this as an original idea, Barbera and Hanna went ahead with it.

As they never believed Puss Gets the Boot to be a good idea, Hanna and Barbera went ahead to direct non-cat-and-mouse shorts like the Gallopin’ Gals (1940) and Officer Pooch (1941). But everything changed when Puss Gets the Boot began to be constantly shown in theaters and also received a nomination for the “Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons” (1941). Even though it didn’t receive the award, MGM animation studio urged Hanna and Barbera to continue with their cat-and-mouse idea. They directed and produced 115 shorts for the animated series during its first run. Moreover, Hanna also went on to offer the vocal effects of the comic duo, Tom and Jerry, who didn’t speak much except occasionally.

Hanna and Barbera went on to create numerous beloved shows other than Tom and Jerry. Some of these shows include  Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Wacky Races, The Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, and The Smurfs. Together they won seven Academy Awards, eight Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Governor’s Award, and a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star for their life-long achievements.(1,2)

2. Tom and Jerry were originally called Jasper and Jinx.

Tom and Jerry Poster, Christmas Time Mixed Drink
Image credits: momokacma/Flickr, maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com (Image for Representation Purpose only)

When the first animated short for the series was released to theatres, the cat and mouse duo were actually named Jasper and Jinx. The episode features Jasper, a tomcat, driving extreme pleasure in harassing a mouse by the name of Jinx. It also features Mammy Two Shoes, Jasper’s owner, scolding and punishing Jasper for his notoriety.

After the successful run of the first episode of the animated series, the creators, Hanna and Barbera, wanted to change the names of the two protagonists. For this, they organized an intra-studio competition whereby employees suggested new names for the dynamic duo. John Carr, an animator, suggested the names Tom and Jerry and won $50 for it. At that time, Tom and Jerry was the name of a Christmas time mixed drink.(source)

3. The cartoon series has a total of 163 episodes and was first released on February 10, 1940. It continued until September 27, 2005.

Tom & Jerry
Image credit: momokacma/Flickr

The Tom and Jerry series had three runs. The original first run, created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, had 114 episodes in total. They were theatrical releases and started from February 10, 1940, and continued until August 1, 1958.

The next run for the series was directed by Gene Deitch. He directed 13 episodes, which unfortunately came to be known as the worst Tom and Jerry shorts. These episodes were first released on September 7, 1961, and continued until December 21, 1962.

The third and final run of the animated series was produced by Chuck Jones. He produced 34 episodes in total and they aired from July 27, 1963, until September 8, 1967. Hence, the three runs of the show gave a total of 161 episodes.

On April 6, 2001, a short was made only for TV known as “The Mansion Cat.” It was directed by Karl Toerge. The last Tom and Jerry short was released on September 27, 2005, and was called “The Karate Guard,” directed by Joseph Barbera and Spike Brandt.

It’s surprising that even though the show had 163 animated shorts in total, the first episode known as the “Puss Gets the Boot” is the longest episode to date with a runtime of nine minutes and eight seconds (9:08).(source)

4. MGM studio almost discontinued the show after the first episode as they believed that the concept of a cat and mouse duo was too common in cartoons.

MGM closing for Tom and Jerry
Image source: mitchellbeausejour.wikia.com

When Barbera pitched the idea of a cat-and-mouse comic series, none of the employees of the MGM animation studio showed much enthusiasm. They felt the idea was not original and was too common when it came to cartoons. So. after the first episode was released in theatres, both Barbera and Hanna went ahead to work on other, non-cat-and-mouse projects. It was only a year later that the first animated short of Tom and Jerry gained some popularity, and after that, Barbera and Hanna were brought back to work on Tom and Jerry.(source)

5. The face of Tom’s owner, Mammy Two Shoes, was shown only once, and that too very briefly, during the entire series.

Mammy Two Shoes in a scene from the Tom & Jerry short Saturday Evening Puss, the only time that her face was shown.
Image source: Wikipedia

Mammy Two Shoes, who is depicted as the owner of Tom in the series, is mostly known by her legs rather than by her face. In the entire run of the series, her face was shown only once. It was shown, very briefly, in the episode named “Saturday Evening Puss” released on January 14, 1950.

Mammy Two Shoes was also the most controversial element of the series as she was depicted as a poor black maid who speaks in a stereotypical “black accent.” This was seen as being racist by some people. Later, her voice was dubbed to make her sound less stereotypical. She was also replaced with a slim white woman. But the mammy archetype, however stereotyped, was restored in the DVD releases and Whoopi Goldberg was brought it to provide a statement on how important African-American representation is for the series.(1,2)

6. In the initial episodes, Tom moved on all four legs like a normal cat but later started walking on two legs.

Tom on four legs
Image credit: Rudolf Ising via screengrab/Jonni Valentayn/Youtube

Tom has undergone extensive changes in his appearance through the history of the show. When the show started in the 1940s, Tom looked more like a real cat. He used to walk on all fours in the initial episodes. Moreover, he also had thick and unkempt fur, multiple facial wrinkles, as well as eyebrow markings. By the end of the 1940s, Tom’s appearance was made more workable. Jerry, on the other hand, has remained almost exactly the same during the entire history of the show.(source)

7. In one of the episodes of the show, Tom and Jerry apparently committed suicide.

Tom and Jerry committed suicide scene from Blue Cat Blues
Image credit: William Hanna and Joseph Barbera via screengrab/Jonni Valentayn/Youtube

“Blue Cat Blues” is a Tom and Jerry animated short that was released on November 16, 1956. The episode starts with Tom sitting on the rail tracks depressed. Jerry watches his friend, apparently from the bridge over the railway tracks, and goes on to narrate how Tom ended up like this.

The episode depicts Tom and Jerry as very close friends until Tom is mesmerized by a white female cat. The female cat also returns Tom’s love and they end up in a loving relationship. But, as always, then enters the villain. The villain here is Mr. Butch, the wealthy cat that lives next door to the white female cat. He sweeps the female cat of her paws with his wealth. The female turns out to be an opportunist, as warned by Jerry, and leaves Tom for the wealthy cat.

Even though Tom realized how shallow the female cat was, he didn’t stop. He used up all his finances, much against Jerry’s advice, in an attempt to win her back. But no matter how much Tom tried, Butch was always one step ahead of and many dollars wealthier than him. Mr. Butch and the white female cat get married leaving Tom penniless, hopeless, and in immense depression.

After all this, Jerry thinks of his girlfriend Toots who has been faithful to him all this time. But at that very moment, Jerry sees Toots going away with another mouse, and that too married. Jerry, heartbroken, joins Tom on the tracks. They sit on the tracks and wait for an oncoming train. The train’s whistle grows louder as the cartoon fades, giving an impression to the audience that Tom and Jerry just committed suicide.

There have been numerous controversies surrounding this episode. Some people believe that it is impossible that Tom and Jerry can be killed by the oncoming train as they have survived much worse things throughout the show. Hammers, gunshots, explosions – you name it. They have survived it all. Moreover, some people believe that since “Blue Cat Blues” was not the last episode of the animated series, there is no way that Tom and Jerry may have died on the tracks.(source)

8. Tom and Jerry had multiple spin-offs such as The Tom and Jerry Show, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, Tom and Jerry Kids, Tom and Jerry Tales, etc.

he Tom and Jerry Show, The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, Tom and Jerry Kids, Tom and Jerry Tales
Image sources: Wikipedia, soundeffects.wikia.com, Wikipedia, Image credit: Hanna-Barbera, Turner Entertainment Co. via screengrab/Mustafa Özkurt/Youtube

Numerous shows were made based on the original Tom and Jerry animated series. Some of these television series include The Tom and Jerry Show (1975), The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show (1980–82), Tom and Jerry Kids (1990–93), Tom and Jerry Tales (2006–08), and The Tom and Jerry Show (2014–present).

There was also a feature-length film Tom and Jerry: The Movie was made based on the cartoon series. It was released in 1992. Since 2002, 13 direct-to-video films have been released.

Other than these original Tom and Jerry shows, the duo has also made numerous cameo appearances. In 1945, Jerry appeared in Anchors Aweigh, a musical by MGM. In the movie, Jerry performs a dance routine with Gene Kelly. The shot was made with the help of special effects. Tom also appears for a brief time in Anchors Aweigh handing food to Jerry on a tray.

In 1953, Tom and Jerry appeared in Dangerous When Wet, where they performed in a dream sequence with Esther Williams. In the show MAD, that airs on the Cartoon Network, Tom and Jerry appeared in three segments: “Mickey Mouse Exterminator Service”, “Celebrity Birthdays”, and “Tom and Jury.”(1,2)

9. Tom and Jerry cartoons won seven Oscars and were nominated for six more.

William Hannah and Joseph Barbera with seven Oscar awards for Best Short Film
Image source: Wikipedia

Tom and Jerry were not just loved by people across generations who watched the show but also by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscar community. The animated series has won seven Oscars to date under the “Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons” category. They have been nominated for six more.

The episodes that won the Oscar include “The Yankee Doodle Mouse” in 1943, “Mouse Trouble” in 1944, “Quiet Please!” in 1945, “The Cat Concerto” in 1946, “The Little Orphan” in 1948, “The Two Mouseketeers” in 1952, and “Johann Mouse” in 1953. In the episode “The Cat Concerto” which won the Oscar in 1946, Tom performs Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2.(1,2)

10. Since the show started in February 1940, Tom and Jerry would now be 78 years of age.

Tom and Jerry
Image source: pbs.twimg.com

Yes, Tom and Jerry are now 78 years of age. Looks like it’s time to call them Grandpa Tom and Grandpa Jerry don’t you think?(source)

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