1 9 6 3 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
Casper made his television debut in 1950, on the show Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper was something of an anomaly among the supernatural world – he had little interest in scaring people, haunting houses or doing any of the usual ghostly activities.
Instead, Casper just wanted to play and make friends like other children his age, though his inherent spookiness was enough to frighten away any prospective friend.
Usually, Casper would end up making a connection with a small child or a friendly animal, someone who wouldn’t run away before getting to know the “real” Casper. Someone who was unconcerned with the fact that their new friend was, indeed, dead.
In 1963, Casper premiered in a new series entitled The New Casper Cartoon Show. While the character of Casper was essentially the same, the show itself was growing more complex.
Taking a clue from the popular Casper comic books, the new show added more characters, including the older and nastier Ghostly Trio, who never approved of Casper’s friendly ways.
But Casper now also had friends – Wendy, the Good Little Witch; the self-proclaimed “tuff” ghost Spooky; and Nightmare, a talking ghost horse – all of whom were on hand to join Casper in his adventures as well as star in their own segments.
This latest version was set in the magical Enchanted Forest, where the sight of a ghost trying to make friends was no big deal. This atmosphere gave the writers more latitude with creating characters and gave Casper more to do than just accidentally scare people.
In the late ’70s, Casper appeared yet again, in Casper and the Angels – probably the least successful of the Casper incarnations.
Set in the future, Casper was teamed with two girls, Mini and Maxie, as members of the Space Patrol, working together to capture intergalactic criminals. The team received instructions from the Commander via two-way radio and was assisted by the nutty ghost, Harry Scary.
Two bumbling members of the Space Patrol, Nerdly and Fungo, supplied the comic relief. Why a ghost was needed to help capture criminals in the future was never explained.
Like many popular cartoon characters, Casper eventually starred in his own full-length, live-action feature film, which utilised the latest technology to bring this perennially popular character of the undead to life.
1995’s Casper live-action movie was an international success (also the first feature film to have a CGI character as the lead role), and the Friendly Ghost returned to Saturday mornings in 1996.
Ginny Tyler (1)
Julie McWhirter (2)