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Late 1950's/1960's depiction of Mighty Mouse used in the opening of TV prints of some cartoons|
Early Terrytoons Mighty Mouse
|First appearance||Mouse of Tomorrow (1942)|
|Last appearance||Cat Alarm (1961)|
|Created by||Paul Terry|
Roy Halee, Sr.|
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|Significant other(s)||Pearl Pureheart|
Mighty Mouse is an American animated anthropomorphic superhero mouse character created by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox. The character made its first appearance in 1942 (originally named Super Mouse), and subsequently appeared in 80 theatrical films produced between 1942 and 1961. These films later appeared on American television from 1955 through 1967 on the CBS television network on Saturday mornings. The character went through two later revivals, once by Filmation Studios in 1979, and again in 1987, by animation director Ralph Bakshi, who had worked at the Terrytoons studio during his early career.
Mighty Mouse has also appeared in comics and other media.
- 1 History
- 2 Feature film adaptation
- 3 Criticism
- 4 Cultural Influences
- 5 Episodes
- 6 Comics
- 7 Other appearances
- 8 DVD releases
- 9 Video games
- 10 Further reading
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The character was originally conceived by Paul Terry. Created as a parody of Superman, he first appeared in 1942, in a theatrical animated short titled The Mouse of Tomorrow. His original name was Super Mouse, but after seven films produced with that name from 1942-1943, it was changed to Mighty Mouse for 1944's The Wreck of the Hesperus, after Paul Terry learned that another character named "Super Mouse" was to be published by Marvel Comics.
Beginning in 1945, some Mighty Mouse episodes had operatic dialogue, and he was drawn slightly differently. Both changes were an attempt to take advantage of the growing popularity of singer and actor Mario Lanza, beginning with "Mighty Mouse and The Pirates". Others included "Gypsy Life" and "The Crackpot King." Mighty Mouse's adventures later focused on Pearl Pureheart and Oilcan Harry; these episodes were always sung by the characters.
- His appearance
Mighty Mouse was first drawn wearing a blue costume with red trunks and cape, similar to Superman. Later this outfit was changed to a yellow costume with red trunks and cape; in various theatrical shorts, those colors were reversed.  Roy Halee, Sr., was the first actor to provide the voice of Mighty Mouse, a role later assigned to Tom Morrison. In The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle, Alan Oppenheimer provided the voice, and during the run of Mighty Mouse, the New Adventures, Mighty Mouse was voiced by Patrick Pinney.
- His powers
Mighty Mouse's superpowers included flight, super strength, and invulnerability. In some films he had X-ray vision and used psychokinesis. He was also able to turn back time in The Johnstown Flood and Krakatoa. Other cartoons showed him leaving a red contrail during flight that he manipulated like a band of solid, flexible matter.
- Recurring characters
Mighty Mouse featured two recurring female leads. In the cartoon shorts, it was a mouse named Pearl Pureheart, while in the comics published in the 1950s and 1960s, the character was named Mitzi. His recurring arch-enemy is an evil villain cat named Oil Can Harry, who originated as a human in earlier Terrytoons as the enemy of Fanny Zilch).
- Show formula
The early formula of each story consisted of a crisis needing extraordinary help to resolve. At the decisive moment, Mighty Mouse came to the rescue. In the early films Mighty Mouse would not appear until nearly three quarters of the way through the cartoon. Beginning with A Fight to the Finish (1947), the story line usually begins with Mighty Mouse and Pearl Pureheart already in a desperate situation, as if they were in the next chapter of the serial.
Mighty Mouse cartoons spoofed the cliffhanger serials of silent films as well as the classic operettas of stage that were still popular at the time.
The characters often sing mock opera songs during these cartoons (e.g., Pearl: "Oil Can Harry, you're a villain!"; Oil Can Harry: "I know it, but it's a lot of fun..."). Mighty Mouse sings tenor, Pearl is a soprano, and Oil Can Harry a bass-baritone. Mighty Mouse is also famous for singing, "Here I come to save the day!" when flying into action.
In several of the Mighty Mouse cartoons, whenever he achieved the most impossible physical tasks, the narrator exclaimed, first softly, "what a mouse!!!", then loudly, "WHAT A MOUSE!!!".
The early Mighty Mouse cartoons often portray Mighty Mouse as a ruthless fighter. One of his most frequent tactics is to fly under the chin of an enemy and let loose a volley of blows, subduing the opponent through sheer physical punishment.
While his typical opponents are nondescript cats, Mighty Mouse occasionally battles specific villains, though most of them appear in only one or two films. Several of the earliest "Super Mouse" films (having been made during World War II) feature the cats as thinly veiled caricatures of the Nazis, hunting down mice and marching them into concentration camp-like traps to what would otherwise be their doom. The Bat-cats, alien cats with bat wings and wheels for feet, appeared in two cartoons; in two other shorts between 1949 and 1950 he faces a huge, dim-witted, but super-strong cat named Julius "Pinhead" Schlabotka (voiced by Dayton Allen) whose strength rivals Mighty Mouse's own. In rare moments he confronts non-feline adversaries, such as human bad guy Bad Bill Bunion and his horse or the Automatic Mouse Trap, a brontosaur-shaped robotic monster. In another cartoon, titled The Green Line (1944), the cats live on one side of the main street of a town and the mice on the other, with a green line down the middle of the street serving as the dividing line. They agree to keep the peace as long as no one crosses it. An evil entity, a Satan cat, starts the cats and mice fighting. At the end, Mighty Mouse is cheered by mice and cats alike.
At least one episode of Mighty Mouse, Wolf! Wolf! has fallen into Public Domain and is available at the Internet Archive.
The 1945 film Gypsy Life was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Short Subject (Cartoon).
Mighty Mouse Playhouse
Mighty Mouse had little impact as a theatrical feature, but became Terrytoons' most popular character and a cultural icon on television.
CBS purchased the Terrytoons studio from Paul Terry in 1955. The Mighty Mouse Playhouse aired on Saturday mornings from December 10, 1955  until Sep. 2, 1967 using the existing feature film library. Only three new cartoons were produced after the sale. The final season included a new feature: The Mighty Heroes.
The show's theme song was credited on some early vinyls to "The Terrytooners, Mitch Miller and Orchestra". However, writer Mark Evanier credits a group called The Sandpipers (not the 1960s easy listening group of the same name).
The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Filmation made television cartoons starring Mighty Mouse and fellow Terrytoon characters Heckle and Jeckle (both voiced by Frank Welker) in a show called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle. In that show, two new characters were introduced: a vampire duck named Quacula (not to be confused with Count Duckula), and Oil Can Harry's bumbling, large, but swift-running, henchman Swifty. The show premiered in 1979 and lasted for two seasons. It spawned a limited theatrical release matinee movie, Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase, released December 10, 1982. In the Filmation series and movies, Mighty Mouse and Oil Can Harry were voiced by veteran voice artist Alan Oppenheimer, and Pearl Pureheart was voiced by Diane Pershing.
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures
In 1987 and 1988, animation producer Ralph Bakshi (who began his career at Terrytoons in the late 1950s and worked on the last Mighty Mouse shorts filmed by that company) created a new series of Mighty Mouse cartoons entitled Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures for the CBS Saturday morning children's lineup. In this series, Mighty Mouse has a real identity, Mike Mouse (both identities voiced by Patrick Pinney), and a sidekick, Scrappy Mouse (voiced by actress Dana Hill), the little orphan. Though a children's cartoon, its heavy satirical tone, risque humor and adult jokes made the Bakshi Mighty Mouse series a collector's item for collectors of older television series.
The best-remembered episode of this series featured a crossover with Mighty Mouse and another Baskshi creation, the Mighty Heroes. In this 1988 episode, the Mighty Heroes were middle-aged men (except for Diaper Man, who was in his twenties) and were all lawyers Old Channel for the Cartoon Network UK, Fox Kids, TVRI, and ABC TV.
Marvel Comics produced a 10-issue comic book series (set in the New Adventures continuity) in 1990 and 1991. Nothing new has been produced using the Mighty Mouse character except for an arcade game by Atari and a 2001 "The power of cheese" television commercial. That commercial shows Mighty Mouse dining calmly on cheese in a restaurant, utterly unconcerned with a scene of chaos and terror visibly unfolding in the street outside. The commercial was hastily withdrawn in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The rights to Mighty Mouse are now divided as a result of the 2006 corporate split of Viacom (the former owner of the Terrytoons franchise) into two separate companies. CBS Operations (a unit of the current CBS Corporation) owns the ancillary rights and trademarks to the character, while Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS Home Entertainment holds home video rights. The first official release of Mighty Mouse material has been announced and what is now CBS Television Distribution has television syndication rights (the shorts are currently out of circulation).
Feature film adaptation
As early as 2004, Paramount Pictures, Omation Animation Studios and Nickelodeon Movies announced their intention to bring Mighty Mouse back to the motion picture screen with a CGI Mighty Mouse feature film and was tentatively scheduled to be released some time in 2013. However, this did not happen as the film is still in development.
Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was the subject of media controversy when one scene was interpreted as a depiction of cocaine use. In the episode "The Littlest Tramp" a poor mouse girl attempts to sell flowers, and is repeatedly harassed by a rich man who crushes her flowers. She runs out of flowers and makes new ones from sundry items she finds, such as tomato slices, but the man crushes these too. Mighty Mouse attempts to purchase the flowers with his chunk of cheese, and to avenge the girl, but she gives Mighty Mouse the crushed flowers and insists that others need help more than she does. After successfully saving several different characters, he is reminded of the girl, and attempts to smell the flowers she gave him (now a pink powder), inhaling them in the process. He then finds the man that has been harassing the girl, and spanks him. The girl is sympathetic to the man, and he is so moved that the two are married.
A family in Kentucky saw the episode and reportedly interpreted the scene as Mighty Mouse snorting cocaine. The family called the American Family Association in Tupelo, Mississippi. The group demanded Bakshi be removed from production of the series. Bakshi and CBS denied the allegations, Bakshi stating the whole incident "smacks of McCarthyism. I'm not going to get into who sniffs what. This is lunacy." To defuse the controversy, Bakshi agreed to cut the 3.5 seconds from the episode. Rev. Donald Wildmon claimed that the editing was a "de facto admission" of cocaine use, though Bakshi maintained that the episode was "totally innocent".
It's because of Fritz that they're going after Mighty Mouse. I grew up in Brownsville in Brooklyn and attended High School for Industrial Arts. I remember teachers who quit. Because of McCarthyism they weren't able to teach what they wanted. This is the same thing. Mighty Mouse was happy after smelling the flowers because it helped him remember the little girl who sold it to him fondly. But even if you're right, their accusations become part of the air we breathe. That's why I cut the scene. I can't have children wondering if Mighty Mouse is using cocaine.—Ralph Bakshi, New York Times
In the book Astro Boy Essays, author Frederik L. Schodt quotes Japanese animator Osamu Tezuka as saying that Mighty Mouse was the influence that inspired him to name his well-known character Mighty Atom (also known as Astro Boy). He also chose to imitate Mighty Mouse's signature flying pose with one arm stretched ahead with a clenched fist.
Apple Trademark Dispute
On August 2, 2005, Apple released the company's first multi-control USB computer mouse. The product was designed by Mitsumi Electric and premiered under the name Apple Mighty Mouse. Apple continued to use the name when the product was redesigned as a Bluetooth device in 2006. Prior to release, CBS licensed the right to use the Mighty Mouse name to Apple. In 2008, Man and Machine, Inc., a company that produces medical grade, chemical-resistant mice and keyboards, sued both Apple and CBS for trademark infringement. Man and Machine claimed that it had used the name since 2004 and that CBS did not have the right to license the name for computer peripherals. In 2009, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Man and Machine and Apple changed the name of their product to the "Apple Mouse".
Terrytoons Theatrical Shorts
The first seven films starred the character named Super Mouse. In these early films the character's costume is much closer in design to that of Superman (blue tunic and tights with red trunks and cape).
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The next 73 films changed the character's name to Mighty Mouse.
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Mighty Mouse's first comic book appearance was in Terry-Toons Comics #38 (November 1945), published by Timely Comics. Mighty Mouse was featured in:
- Terry-Toons Comics #38-85 (1945-1951)
- Paul Terry's Comics #86-125 (1951-1955)
Mighty Mouse was also featured in two main titles by several different publishers: Mighty Mouse and The Adventures of Mighty Mouse.
The Adventures of Mighty Mouse (renaming of Paul Terry's Comics, where Mighty Mouse appeared)
- St. John Publications #126-128 (1955)
- Pines Comics #129-144 (1956–1959)
- Dell Comics #145-155 (1959–1961)
- Gold Key Comics #156-160 (1962–1963)
- Dell Comics #161-172 (1964–1968)
- The Movie Orgy (1968): Some brief clips, as well as a commercial featuring Mighty Mouse.
- Homicide: Life on the Street (1996): In the Episode, "Bad Medicine", Tim and Brodie are watching a black and white 'Mighty Mouse' cartoon episode in Tim's living room after Brodie moves in as a temporary roommate.
- South Park's Imaginationland (2007): Mighty Mouse appears in Imagination Land.
- Confessions of a Superhero (2007): Mighty Mouse Toy Seen
- Robot Chicken (2009): In the Episode, "We Are a Humble Factory", Mighty Mouse tricks another mouse into a mousetrap.
- NCIS: Los Ángeles: Callen, G (2010): Mighty Mouse is on the TV as Sam and Kensi enter the house.
- MAD (2011)
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the first official release of Mighty Mouse material, was released on January 5, 2010.
- The animated short "Wolf Wolf", the only Mighty Mouse cartoon in the public domain, has been released on low-budget DVDs and VHS tapes numerous times.
- In October 2008, CR Terry Toons - Mighty Mouse (ＣＲテリーテューンズマイティマウス CR Terīte~yūnzu Maiti Mausu?) a series of two pachinko games has been released in Japan by Fuji Shogi.
- In February 22, 2012, a video game titled MIGHTY MOUSE my Hero was released for iOS, having also an exclusive version for iPad named MIGHTY MOUSE My Hero HD.
- The Animated Movie Guide by Jerry Beck, Chicago Review Press, October 2005, ISBN 978-1-55652-591-9
- Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi, Universe, April 2008, ISBN 978-0-7893-1684-4
- Castle Films: a hobbyists's guide by Scott MacGillivray, iUniverse, Inc., ISBN 978-0-595-32491-0
- The Encyclopedia of Cartoon Superstars: From a to (Almost Z), by John Cawley and Jim Korkis, Pioneer Books, November 1990, ISBN 978-1-55698-269-9
- Who's Who in Animated Cartoons, by Jeff Lenburg, Applause Books, June 1, 2006, ISBN 1-55783-671-X
- Modern Masters Volume 3: Bruce Timm, by Eric Nolen-Weathington & Bruce Timm, TwoMorrows Publishing, June 1, 2004, ISBN 978-1-893905-30-6
- Truth and Rumors: The Reality Behind TV's Most Famous Myths, by Bill Brioux, Praeger, December 30, 2007, ISBN 978-0-275-99247-7
- American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A Study of Social Commentary in Films And Television Programs, 1961-1973, Christopher P. Lehman, McFarland & Company, October 27, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7864-2818-2
- Gina Misiroglu (2004). "Funny Animal Heroes". The Superhero Book: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Comic Book Icons and Hollywood Heroes. Visible Ink Press. p. 746. ISBN 978-1-57859-154-1. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Mighty Mouse in his yellow/red costume
- "Mighty Mouse: Wolf! Wolf!". Internet Archive. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "18th Academy Awards". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 1946. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Rodriguez, Robert (2006). The 1950s' most wanted the top 10 book of rock & roll rebels, Cold War crises, and all-American oddities (1st ed. ed.). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-61234-030-2. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
- Evanier, Mark (January 18, 2004). "Sandpiper Stuff". News from Me (Archive). Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- "The Power of Cheese, Mighty Mouse". America's Dairy Farmers. 2001. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- Jerry Beck (2010-04-16). "Mighty Mouse on again at Paramount". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
- "Did Mighty Mouse Snort or Just Sniff the Flowers?". The Deseret News. June 10, 1988. p. A3. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Minister says cocaine made mouse mighty". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. June 10, 1988. p. 1. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Craig Wolff (July 26, 1988). "Mighty Mouse Flying High On Flowers?". New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Mighty Mouse's flowers clipped". Boca Raton News. Associated Press. July 26, 1988. p. 2A. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Schodt, Frederik L. (2007). The Astro Boy essays : Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the manga/anime revolution. Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-1-933330-54-9. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "Tom Scholz's Mighty Mouse guitar.". Celebrity Guitars. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- Jane McEntegart (May 21, 2008). "Company Sues Apple and CBS For Mighty Mouse Copyright Infringements". Tom's Guide. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- MG Siegler (October 7, 2009). "Apple's Mighty Mouse Never Lived Up To Its Name. And Now It Can't.". Techcrunch. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures official site
- Mighty Mouse at the Internet Movie Database
- Mighty Mouse at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Mighty Mouse at TV.com
- Mighty Mouse at TVShowsOnDVD.com
- Terrytoons - The TV Series at Toontracker