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Television audiences got their first glimpse of Mighty Mouse when his theatrical shorts were broadcast on CBS under the title Mighty Mouse Playhouse in 1955.
As his name suggests, MM was one powerful rodent. Blessed with all the usual superpowers (flight, strength, etc.), he also had a fine singing voice and often crooned his way through his adventures, rescuing his girlfriend Pearl Pureheart from the clutches of Oil Can Harry.
While these theatrical cartoons aired from 1955 to 1966, it wasn’t until 1979 that Mighty Mouse made his first appearance in a series created exclusively for television.
In The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle, the supermouse foiled his foes with his wits, not his fists.
His co-headliners, Heckle and Jeckle, were two inseparable magpies who sought to con free meals and shelter out of the upper class (who, in all honesty, presented little difficulty for the clever and mischievous birds).
The show also featured Quackula, a vampire duck who tried to frighten those who crossed his path, but who usually ended up tripping over his own webbed feet.
An all-new 1987 series, Mighty Mouse, The New Adventures, was the brainchild of animation pioneer Ralph Bakshi.
Bakshi fleshed out the Mouse’s character by making him more introspective and giving him a sidekick, Scrappy, to whom he could confess his troubles.
Nearly pushing the limits on “inside jokes,” this latest version concentrated on spoofing other well-known cartoons as well as bringing back characters who had long been forgotten.
With the help of John Kricfalusi (who went on to create The Ren and Stimpy Show), Bakshi took no prisoners, using his latest cartoon to mock the industry he had worked in for so many years.
Unfortunately, many of the references were lost on children, and the series was cancelled after two seasons.
Whether people prefer the classic do-gooder of the ’50s or the edgy character from the ’80s, Mighty Mouse has become one of animation’s most recognisable and beloved heroes.
Tom Morrison (1)
Alan Oppenheimer (2)
Oil Can Harry
Theodore H. Bear