Felix the Cat (partially found animated shorts; 1910s-1920s)

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The cartoon icon, Felix The Cat.

Status: Partially Found

Felix The Cat was one of the first wildly popular animation series. Created by Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan in 1919, the series popularized several animation tropes and helped establish animation as a serious medium.

The Felix shorts were released between 1919 and 1928. Paramount helped produce the first 26 shorts before they were passed off to other distribution companies. The shorts were often shown before major motion pictures at movie theaters. The character was heavily merchandised and became the first cartoon character to become a pop culture icon. Felix himself originally started out with the nickname "Master Tom" before having his name and style changed to make him more cute and appealing.

The shorts slowly fell out of popularity as the sound era came. Sullivan stubbornly refused to produce sound shorts, a decision that would hurt the shorts more than anything. By the time sound was finally implemented, Disney was dominating the animation industry. Production costs started running so high that by 1929, production had to be halted.

The series was given a very brief revival by Van Buren Studios in the '30s before fading off into obscurity. In the 1950s, the shorts were purchased by a television production company that added sound effects to them. This led to several Felix the Cat-related TV shows over the decades.

A great deal of the original Felix shorts remain missing, but it's hard to determine how many exist and how many are missing; some shorts that weren't even known to exist have resurfaced in recent years. There are also many missing shorts that collectors have claimed to own but have never proven.

Another interesting Felix-related missing product is the 1928-1938 RCA television experiments. A Felix doll was filmed spinning on a vinyl player and was transmitted on experimental television prototypes. They spent 10 years toning and perfecting the image. Footage from these experiments has never surfaced.


Felix the Cat in "Feline Follies" (1919).

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