To celebrate 100 years of Felix the Cat, we’ve reached into our magic bag of tricks to bring you some excerpts from the original cartoons.
Felix the Cat is widely considered the world’s first animated film star. He first appeared as 'Master Tom' in an animated short titled Feline Follies, released by Paramount Studios on 9 November 1919, a full nine years before Mickey Mouse’s debut in Disney’s Steamboat Willie (1928).
Feline Follies was produced by Pat Sullivan Studios in New York. Sullivan was an Australian-born animator who started his career as a cartoonist before setting up his own animation studio in 1916.
There is still much debate over who originally created Felix the Cat. Many animation scholars attribute the character to Otto Messmer, one of Sullivan’s animators. However, Sullivan’s supporters claim Felix evolved from an earlier character of his who appeared in a short film titled The Tale of Thomas Kat (1917), two years before Feline Follies.
But one fact that is not in dispute is Felix’s enduring fame and status as a pop culture icon.
The first 25 Felix the Cat short cartoons were shown in theatres from 1919 – 1921. They are now available to view in the British Pathé collection, but the NFSA also holds copies of most of these in 9, 16 and 35mm film formats. We are sharing some excerpts in recognition of Felix’s 100th birthday.