Tom the Cat from "Tom and Jerry"



Tom the Cat from
Tom and Jerry were an panimated cat (Tom) and mouse (Jerry) team who formed the basis of a massively successful series of theatrical short animated films created, written and directed by animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (later of Hanna-Barbera fame). The series was produced by Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1940 until 1958, when the studio's animation unit was closed down.

Tom is a career cat whose line of work happens to be napping, eating, napping and chasing housemate Jerry. Head and shoulders above other felines. Tom remains a cat of few words content to scheme and strategize about nabbing his elusive mouse nemesis.

Thomas Cat

First Appearance  - "Puss Gets the Boot" as Jasper. 1940

Biography - Tom is a fiendish opportunist, always anxious to ingratiate himself with the powers that be, wether housekeeper, dog, or even, on occasion, mouse. All ways things of his stomach.


Tom the Cat - The feline half of the popular cat and mouse team Tom & Jerry created for M-G-M by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera that debuted in the animated cartoon Puss Gets The Boot (1939). During his Keystone Cop like chases of Jerry the mouse (brown in color), Tom (a grey cat with a round face) routinely got chopped, sliced, diced (run over by lawnmowers or blown up) but still he kept on going. In 1965, new cartoon adventures were created by Chuck Jones for THE TOM AND JERRY SHOW/SYN/1965. Later shows included THE NEW TOM AND JERRY/GRAPE APE SHOW/ABC/1975 and THE TOM AND JERRY/GRAPE APE/MUMBLY SHOW/ABC/1976. TRIVIA NOTE: Tom was originally called "Jasper."



The plots of each short usually centre on Tom's frustrated attempts to catch Jerry, and the mayhem and destruction that ensues.

Reasons given may include normal feline hunger, the simple enjoyment of tormenting him, revenge for being slighted, or a misunderstanding between the previous cohabitators. However, Tom never succeeds in capturing Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's own craftiness and cunning.

The shorts are famous for using some of the most destructive and violent gags ever devised for theatrical animation: Jerry slicing Tom in half, Tom using everything from axes, pistols, rifles, dynamite, and poison to try and murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron, and so on. A recurring gag has Jerry causing some sort of an explosive to blow up in his adversary's face, causing Tom to appear in blackface.

Tom is a grey tabby house cat, that lives a pampered life, which Jerry, a small brown mouse, generally tries to disturb and interrupt, provoking Tom to chase him. Though very energetic and determined, Tom is no match for Jerry's brains and wits; so by the iris-out of each cartoon, Jerry is shown to have triumphantly survived, while Tom is left embarrassed, frustrated, in trouble, or in pain...if not all four at the same time.

In his attempts to catch Jerry, Tom often has to deal with the intrusions of characters such as Butch, a scruffy black alley cat who also wants to catch and eat Jerry, Spike (sometimes billed as "Killer"), a vicious guard bulldog, and Mammy-Two-Shoes, his black owner, who usually wallops Tom with a broom when he misbehaves. In the late 1940s, Jerry adopts a little grey mouse foundling named Nibbles (also known as "Tuffy"). During the 1950s Spike is shown to have a son of his own named Tyke, an addition that lead to both a slight softening of Spike's character and a short-lived spin-off theatrical series (Spike and Tyke).



Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry never do under normal circumstances (Tom, most famously, sings while wooing female cats in a parody of real life performers). Co-director William Hanna provides most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair (including the most famous sound effect from the series, Tom's leather lunged scream, created by recording Hanna's scream and chopping the head and tail off of the sound; leaving only the strongest part of the scream on the soundtrack).

In the first episode of the series Tom was actually named "Jasper." It wasn't until the second picture, and after a studio naming competition, that Tom and Jerry were born. Notice here in 1941's "The Midnight Snack" how much more detail there is in Tom. He is hairier, has 3 whiskers and usually is more catlike, running on all fours.

This shot from 1950's "Cueball Cat" shows us "Classic Tom." Down to two whiskers, little hairy projections, two white brest bumps instead of the older three, and the fine sharp line drawing. This is what most of us remember when they think of Tom.

Here in 1955's "That's My Mommy" Tom has gotten darker and the line drawing is 3 times thicker. Easier to paint and animate but poorer quality. TV was really taking it to the theater cartoon business and they had to cut costs somehow. This cost cutting and frame reducing has lead us to what we see today on the tube.

The Birth of the Star

A cat, large, gray and devilish, a Machiavellian glint in his yellow-irised eyes, and a mouse, small, brown, cherubic yet cheeky, chase each other around a kitchen, demolishing the ice box, ironing board, plate rail, a whole sink full of dishes and littering the floor with egg shells, dripping yolks and oozing jam.

The kitchen battle wages on, its final outcome unknown o the participants. But to the people watching in the warm darkness of the theater, there is little doubt as to the identity of the victor - it will be the little mouse.

For the cat and mouse are Tom and Jerry, and this, of course is a Tom & Jerry cartoon.




The ever-dueling duo have chased each other from the Hollywood Bowl to Hungary to out space and back, and fifty years after their movie debut, are still going strong. Vintage Tom & Jerry cartoons still play at the cinema, on television, and are packaged for sale or rental on videotape.
Tom and Jerry have very definite personalities. Tom is a fiendish opportunist, always anxious to ingratiate himself with the powers that be, wether housekeeper, dog, or even, on occasion, mouse; while Jerry, the impish schemer, is happy minding his own business until cornered, piqued or generally provoked.
When Warner Brothers closed its cartoon doors in 1963, MGM jumped in and offered Chuck Jones the opportunity to animate new Tom & Jerry s for theatrical release. Jones was a veteran, and very talented, animator, having been intrinsic to the development of Warner's stars Bugs Bunny, daffy Duck and their brethren.

He set to work, making his first task a remodel of the famous duo. Tom was given Boris Karloff eyebrows that enhanced his diabolical demeanor, and in many poses bears a strong resemblance to Bugs himself, with a tail and cropped ears.

The Tom & Jerry logo received a facelift, too, with the old title frame replaced by a spiffier 1960s one and new, tinkly music signature. Even Leo, the MGM lion, who had appeared at the beginning of every cartoon since the studio's beginning, was replaced in mid-roar by Tom meowing and hissing into the camera. But these ware the only differences between the vintage Tom & Jerrys and Jones'. Graphically stylish and brightly colored, the latter veered toward poses and personality.
The plots of each short usually center on Tom's frustrated attempts to catch Jerry, and the mayhem and destruction that ensues. Because they seem to get along in some cartoon shorts (at least in the first minute or so), it is unclear why Tom chases Jerry so much, but some reasons given may include:

* normal feline hunger

* his duty according to his owner (often it is Tom's job, as a house cat, to catch mice and failure would equal eviction)

* the simple enjoyment of tormenting him

* revenge

* a misunderstanding (especially in shorts that start with them ambivalent or friendly to each other)

* a conflict when both of them want the same thing (usually food)

* a need to have Jerry out of the way

* a game enjoyed by both of them

Tom rarely succeeds in defeating Jerry, mainly because of Jerry's craftiness and cunning, but sometimes because of Tom's own stupidity. Tom usually only beats Jerry when Jerry becomes the instigator or crosses some sort of line; Jerry's cunning comes from being on the defensive (much like Bugs Bunny). The shorts are famous for using some of the most destructive and violent gags ever devised for theatrical animation: Jerry slicing Tom in half, Tom using everything from axes, pistols, rifles, dynamite, and poison to try and murder Jerry, Jerry stuffing Tom's tail in a waffle iron, and so on. The Simpsons's "cartoon-within-a-cartoon", Itchy and Scratchy, mercilessly parodies the violence of Tom and Jerry by featuring even more extreme violence (and also blood).

Usually, neither Tom nor Jerry speak in the cartoons. There are brief exceptions, but their vocals are generally restricted to screams of pain (almost entirely from Tom), or nervous gulps. Facial expressions and gestures easily convey the characters' feelings and intentions.





Characters of Tom and Jerry

Tom is a bluish-grey housecat (or greyish-blue, depending on the short. His fur color is close to that of the Russian Blue breed of cats) who lives a pampered life, while Jerry is a small brown mouse who always lives in close proximity to him. Tom is very quick-tempered and thin-skinned, while Jerry is independent and opportunistic. Though very energetic and determined, Tom is no match for Jerry's brains and wits. By the iris-out of each cartoon, Jerry is usually shown triumphant, while Tom is shown as the loser. However, many other results have been reached: on rare occasions, Tom triumphs. Sometimes, usually ironically, they both lose. Once in a while, particularly at Christmas, Tom may actually save Jerry's life, or at least share gifts with him. On at least one occasion, their daily chase is portrayed as a sort of enjoyed routine between the two of them; in one particular episode, Tom is smitten with a female cat, and then Jerry, jealous, proceeds to break them up, after which Tom is grateful and they shake each other's hands, and then they mutually start the chase again.

Both characters display sadistic tendencies, in that they are equally likely to take pleasure in tormenting each other. However, unlike Jerry, Tom has an enormously powerful conscience, and often panics if he thinks that Jerry is seriously injured, dying or dead. Jerry sometimes uses this to his advantage.

Although many supporting and minor characters speak, Tom and Jerry rarely do so. Tom, most famously, sings while wooing female cats; for example, he lip-syncs to "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby" in the 1946 short Solid Serenade. His most noted spoken line occurs in two different shorts where Tom clearly says in an eerie, echoing voice "don't you believe it". Co-director William Hanna provided most of the squeaks, gasps, and other vocal effects for the pair, including the most famous sound effect from the series, Tom's leather-lunged scream (created by recording Hanna's scream and chopping the head and tail off the recording, leaving only the strongest part of the scream on the soundtrack).

The History

Completed in late 1939, and released to theatres on February 10, 1940, Puss Gets The Boot centers on Jasper, a grey tabby cat trying to catch an as yet unnamed rodent, but without breaking anything; Jasper's owner Mammy has threatened to throw Jasper out ("O-U-W-T, out!") if he breaks one more thing in the house. Naturally, the mouse uses this to his advantage, and begins tossing wine glasses, ceramic plates, tea pots, and any and everything fragile, so that Jasper will get thrown outside.

The attitude towards the cat and mouse duo changed when the cartoon became a favourite with theatre owners and with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Hanna and Barbera held an intra-studio contest to give the pair a new name; animator John Carr won with his suggestion of "Tom and Jerry." It may be that this came from the First World War nicknames Tommy (referring to any British soldier) and Jerry (any German soldier). They could have also been named after the Tom and Jerry (cocktail).

The Tom and Jerry series went into production with The Midnight Snack in 1941, and Hanna and Barbera never helmed anything but the cat-and-mouse cartoons for the rest of their tenure at MGM.

Tom's physical appearance evolved significantly over the years. During the early 1940s, Tom had an excess of detail--shaggy fur, numerous facial wrinkles, and multiple eyebrow markings--all of which were streamlined into a more workable form by the end of the 1940s; Jerry stayed essentially the same for the duration of the series. By the mid-1940s, the series had developed a quicker, more energetic (and violent) tone, thanks to inspiration from the work of MGM Animation colleague Tex Avery, who joined the studio in 1942.



Even though the basic theme of each short is virtually the same, Hanna and Barbera found endless variations on that theme. Barbera's storyboards and rough layouts and designs, combined with Hanna's timing, resulted in the most popular, successful, and highly acclaimed series the MGM animation department ever had. 13 entries in the Tom and Jerry series (excluding Puss Gets The Boot) were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoons; seven of them went on to win the Academy Award, breaking the Disney studio's winning streak in that category. Tom and Jerry won more Academy Awards than any other character-based theatrical animated series.

Tom and Jerry remained popular throughout their original theatrical run, even when the budgets began to tighten a little in the 1950s and the pace of the shorts slowed slightly. However, after television became popular in the 1950s, box office revenues decreased for theatrical films, and short subjects. At first, MGM combated this by going to all-CinemaScope production on the series; but after the MGM accountants realized that their re-releases of the older shorts brought in just as much revenue as the new films, the studio executives decided, much to the surprise of the staff, to close the animation studio. The MGM animation department was shut down in 1957, and the final of the 114 Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry shorts, Tot Watchers, was released on August 1, 1958.

In 1960, MGM decided that they wanted to produce new Tom and Jerry shorts. After the last of the Deitch cartoons were released, MGM turned to American director Chuck Jones, who, starting in 1963 went on to produce 34 more Tom and Jerry shorts. A number of the cartoons were lacking in plot, instead seeming to favour poses, personality and style over storyline. The characters underwent a slight change of appearance: Tom was given thicker, Boris Karloff-like eyebrows, while Jerry was given larger eyes and ears, and a sweeter expression. The Tom and Jerry title frame was also revamped, with the MGM lion being replaced in mid-roar by a meowing Tom.

Beginning in 1965, the Hanna and Barbera Tom and Jerry films began to appear on television in heavily edited form. Starting out on CBS' Saturday Morning schedule on September 25, 1965, Tom and Jerry moved to CBS Sundays two years later and remained there until September 17, 1972.

Like a number of other animated cartoons in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Tom and Jerry was not considered politically correct in later years. Some cartoons featured either Tom or Jerry in blackface following an explosion, which were subsequently cut when shown on television, as well as other ethnic stereotypes that were made fun of, particularly the black maid, Mammy Two Shoes, whose distinctive voice was dubbed in most of the cartoons that she appeared in. In one case, the character was reanimated as a slim, young, white lady.

In 1975, Tom and Jerry were reunited with Hanna and Barbera, who produced new Tom and Jerry cartoons for Saturday morning. In 1980, Filmation Studios (in association with MGM Television) also tried their hands at producing a Tom and Jerry TV cartoon series, this one called The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show.

One of the biggest trends for Saturday morning television in the 1980s and 1990s was the "babyfication" of older, classic cartoon stars, and on September 8, 1990, Tom and Jerry Kids Show, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with Turner Entertainment, debuted on FOX, featuring a youthful version of the famous cat-and-mouse duo chasing each other. This time like before, Jerry wears his red bowtie while Tom now wears a red cap.

The famous characters are still playing in the movies and cartoons and in other production and became glorious long time ago.