Vintage Cartoon characters have been a part of our lives for many decades. Here’s a list of the Top 9 according to a poll we did on our Facebook page
9. CASPER – Vintage Cartoon
Anybody who lived in the golden age of Vintage Cartoons knows this wide-eyed, fluffy white, adorable and ever love-able child ghost!
Casper The Friendly Ghost was a cartoon adaptation of a 1930’s children’s book by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo. Casper was a little boy ghost who lived in a haunted house with other adult ghosts who were intent on frightening passersby. Casper didn’t want to be a part of scaring people so he set out on his own. When he came upon some kids he tried to say hello. They took one look at him and screamed and ran away. Casper felt sad and alone until he was eventually taken in by a family. He helped the family by scaring off a greedy landlord.
This was the film that kicked off Casper’s long and illustrious career. Following his initial film shorts, in 1950 Paramount Studios debuted the Casper The Friendly Ghost Cartoon Series. This was a mark of instant popularity for the little ghost every kid loved to dream about. To date, everyone’s favorite ghost has had his own cartoon slot, has appeared in over 40 different comic book series, 5 television shows as well as numerous films.
8. CHILLY WILLY
If you’ve heard of an adorable and pudgy-faced penguin who couldn’t stand the cold then you have probably heard of Chilly Willy. Vintage Cartoons wouldn’t be the same without him. Unlike most penguins, Chilly Willy liked to keep warm and was forever seeking out ways to do just that. Unfortunately, many times this led Chilly into all kinds of trouble.
The cartoon animated series, Chilly Willy, was created by Paul Smith and produced by The Walter Lantz Studios in 1955. The character was inspired by mystery writer Stuart Palmer who convinced Smith to use a penguin as a protagonist in his series. At first, The Walter Lantz Studios hated the fact that Chilly Willy was a cute penguin.
They thought he would not be a relatable character, but they eventually agreed with Smith’s description of the character and he was a hit! Chilly Willy’s opposition was a dog named Smedley. Though arch rivals, Chilly and Smedley appeared always able to resolve their conflicts in the end. Chilly Willy was also known for his ever popular segments in The Woody Woodpecker Show.
7. GUMBY – Vintage Cartoon
Now you didn’t have to have been born in mid-century America to know who the gangly green rubbery guy with the sawed off square shaped head is. Did you get it? That’s right, it’s Gumby! Gumby and his sidekick, Pokey the horse, traveled through many adventures together. He was a likable little guy. He was kind, caring and generous and always tried to do the right thing. Gumby was created in 1955 by Art Clokey. Clokey modeled the clay figure based on the gingerbread man at the suggestion of his wife.
The name Gumby came from the name of the muddy clay on Clokey’s grandparents’ farm which was known as Gumbo. Art Clokey created the clay animation series known as The Gumby Show which aired on NBC from 1956-1969. Gumby was so popular that this show was lucky enough to be revived several times over the years and last aired in 1988. All in all, over 50 years there were 235 episodes of the show created and 1 movie which debuted in 1995. A true Vintage Cartoon
6. MIGHTY MOUSE
“The Mouse of Tomorrow”! Who would’ve ever thought that a superhero mouse who fought off predators in the feline world and had a weakness for harsh fumes (Limburger cheese) would become so popular?
Well, Mighty Mouse was just this mouse. Mighty Mouse was created by Terrytoons and 20th Century Fox in 1942. At first the character was known as Super Mouse and some short films were made featuring this popular superhero.
In 1955 the character really began to gain popularity when CBS began airing the Saturday morning cartoon show, The Mighty Mouse Playhouse, and the mouse’s name was changed from then on. Other television series included The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, and Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures.
The beloved superhero had 2 comic book series, Mighty Mouse and The Adventures of Mighty Mouse which were in publication from 1946-1968. And there was no mistaking the mouse’s theme song which soon became a childhood favorite, “Here I come to Save the Day”, written by Marshall Barer. In the early 1960’s parents began to complain that Mighty Mouse might cause their children to get hooked on cocaine. This is eventually what led to the show’s cancellation.
“I yam I yam and that’s all what I yam”. If you were vintage cartoons in the 60’s and 70’s you definitely know where this classic saying came from. What child didn’t love the cartoon sailor whose superhuman strength could be seen by the way his muscles popped out of his arms after eating a nutritious and ever handy can of spinach?
This love-able character had puffed up cheeks and a crooked mouth which always held a pipe. Then there was Olive Oil, Popeye’s tall, gangly, awkward-looking girlfriend. Despite her annoyingly nasal voice Olive Oil could always be heard singing. Popeye’s arch rival, Bluto, was always competing for Olive Oil’s attention. This is what made the show so much fun.
Ultimately, Popeye would have to enlist the help of his “spinach super strength” in order to rescue his girlfriend from the grips of the evil Bluto. There was also the cute character of Wimpy who loved hamburgers and was always bargaining to get some, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”. Sweet Pea was Popeye’s adopted baby who later in the movie Popeye was legally adopted by Popeye and Olive Oil. The Popeye character was created in 1929 by Elzie Crisler Segar as a cartoon strip. In 1960 it became a syndicated cartoon series and ran for nearly 25 years with 220 episodes. The 1980 film, Popeye, starred the late-great Robin Williams.
4. RICHIE RICH – Vintage Cartoon
“The Poor Little Rich Kid”. In 1953 Alfred Harvey and Warren Kremer’s newly created cartoon character debuted in the Little Dot Comic. This pudgy little boy dressed in a waistcoat, white shirt, bow tie and blue shorts quickly became one of the century’s comic book favorites. What was so charming about Richie Rich was that while he was deemed the world’s richest boy all he wants is to be accepted by other kids his age.
Richie is so rich that his middle name is a $ sign and he owns two of everything yet Richie has his own problems. He is an only child and his parents are too busy to spend much time with him. At times it feels his only friend is his butler, Cadbury. Gloria Glad is the little red-headed girl Richie is forever crushing on. Between 1950 and 1982 Harvey comics ran four different series of this popular character: Richie Rich, Richie Richie Millions, Richie Rich Dollars and Cents, and Richie Rich Success Stories. The cartoon series ran on ABC from November 8, 1980-September 1, 1984. Two films were produced featuring this ever popular character: The 1994 film, Richie Rich, starred MaCaulay Culkin and the 1998 film, Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish starred David Gallagher as Richie Rich.
3. ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE
A moose and a squirrel? It took a lot of ingenuity for creators Alex Anderson, Bill Ward and Jay Scott to believe that a flying squirrel with aviator glasses on his head and a giant moose could turn out to be a popular equation. Yet it worked! Brilliantly, the creators mixed puns and satire humor into the cartoon series which appealed to viewers of all ages.
The show follows these two steadfast friends on their adventures as they fight against trouble from their arch rivals, Boris Baderor and Natasha Fatale. Other characters that were introduced on the show were Dudley Do Right, Mr. Peabody, and Sherman. The show began on ABC on November 19, 1959 and was the highest rated daytime show in !959. In 1961 Rocky and Bullwinkle was moved to NBC. NBC decided to include bumpers (brief breaks during the show) at which time a Bullwinkle puppet was used to make announcements.
One week there was a scandal when, during one of these announcements, the puppet suggested that children pull the knobs off of their television sets so the tv would be tuned into their show the following week. Parents were outraged when, in 20,000 homes, kids followed the puppet’s directions and pulled the knobs off! As a result, the puppet was fired and the show was canceled on June 27, 1964.
“There’s no need to fear. Underdog is here!” That’s right, It’s Underdog, another cartoon superhero. Unlike other comic book or cartoon heroes, Underdog got his superpowers from the “Underdog Super Energy Pill” which is packed away in a tiny compartment behind the face of his ring. Underdog’s best friend and companion is his loyal human, Jack Unger. However, the object of his affection is a cute little television news reporter by the name of Sweet Polly Purebred. Another great Vintage Cartoon!
Unfortunately, Polly tends to get herself into all kinds of hot water during most of the episodes. The premise of the show is that Underdog uses his energy pill and the super strength that comes with it to rescue the girl of his dreams. W. Watts Biggers created Underdog. This vintage cartoon series aired from 1964-1973. There were 62 episodes.
The energy pill that Underdog took was written into the cartoon in order to try and encourage children to take their vitamins. Ironically, the idea of a 1990’s re-release of the show was denied because producers were afraid that, with the new culture surrounding substance abuse, they would now be blamed for encouraging drug use.
1. WOODY WOODPECKER
“Guess Who? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha he he he he he”. The ever popular life sized, red-haired bird was a favorite among children everywhere in the late 1950’s to early 1970’s. The Woody Woodpecker Show, created by Ben Hardaway aired on ABC from 1957-1972. The show continued airing until September 3, 1977.
The show featured Woody and his nemesis, Buzz Buzzard, and followed them along their adventures as viewers rooted for the human-like, giant bird. Woody also had a niece named Splinter and a nephew named Knothead. His significant other’s name was Winnie Woodpecker. Other characters who appeared on the show were Andy Panda and Wally Walrus.
Woody was a character children truly loved. In 1999 there was a re-release of the show called The New Woody Woodpecker Show. The character of Woody Woodpecker was initially inspired by studio producer Walter Lantz’s recounting of a memorable woodpecker’s incessant knocking on the wall of Lantz’s cabin while he and his wife were on their honeymoon!
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