Sylvester J. Pussycat, Sr., also known as Puddy Tat (as in "I tawt I taw a puddy tat" and "bad ol' puddy tat", two sentences often repeated by his arch-nemesis Tweety Bird), gringo pussy-gato/Señor Pussycat (a sobriquet attached by another antagonist, Speedy Gonzales), Sylvester the Cat or simply Sylvester or Sly, is a character, a three-time Academy Award-winning anthropomorphic Tuxedo cat in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies repertory, often chasing Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales, or Hippety Hopper. The name "Sylvester" is a play on Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat species (domestic cats like Sylvester, though, are actually Felis catus). The character debuted in Friz Freleng's Life With Feathers (1945). Freleng's 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie was the first pairing of Tweety with Sylvester, and the Bob Clampett-directed Kitty Kornered (1946) was Sylvester's first pairing with Porky Pig. Sylvester appeared in 103 cartoons in the golden age.
Sylvester's trademark is his sloppy and yet stridulating lisp. In his autobiography, That's Not All Folks!, voice actor Mel Blanc stated that Sylvester's voice is based on that of Daffy Duck, plus the even-more-slobbery lisp, and minus the post-production speed-up that was done with Daffy's. Conventional wisdom is that Daffy's lisp, and hence also Sylvester's, were based on the lisp of producer Leon Schlesinger. However, Blanc made no such claim. He said that Daffy's lisp was based on him having a long beak, and that he borrowed the voice for Sylvester. He also pointed out that, minus the lisp, Sylvester's voice was fairly close to his own (a claim that his son Noel Blanc has confirmed). In addition, director Bob Clampett, in a 1970 Funnyworld interview, agreed with Blanc's account concerning Schlesinger.
To emphasize the lisp, as with Daffy's catchphrase "You're desthpicable", Sylvester's trademark exclamation is "Sufferin' succotash!", which is said to be a minced oath of "Suffering Savior". (Daffy also says "Sufferin' succotash!" from time to time.)
Sylvester shows a lot of pride in himself, and never gives up. Despite (or perhaps because of) his pride and persistence, Sylvester is, with rare exceptions, placed squarely on the "loser" side of the Looney Tunes winner/loser hierarchy. He shows a different character when paired with Porky Pig in explorations of spooky places, in which he doesn't speak, and behaves as a scaredy cat. He also appears in a handful of cartoons with Elmer Fudd, most notably in a series of cartoons underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation extolling the American economic system.
Perhaps Sylvester's most developed role is in a series of Robert McKimson-directed shorts, in which the character is a hapless mouse-catching instructor to his dubious son, Sylvester Junior, with the "mouse" being a powerful baby kangaroo which he constantly mistakes for a "king-size mouse". His alternately confident and bewildered episodes bring his son to shame, while Sylvester himself is reduced to nervous breakdowns.
Sylvester also had roles in a few cartoons:
- Kitty Kornered (1946), a Bob Clampett cartoon in which a black-nosed, yellow-eyed Sylvester was teamed with three other cats to oust owner Porky Pig from his house.
- Back Alley Oproar (1948), a Friz Freleng cartoon (actually a remake of the 1941 short Notes To You) wherein Sylvester pesters the sleep-deprived Elmer Fudd by performing several amazing musical numbers in the alley (and even a sweet lullaby ("go to sleep...go to sleep...close your big bloodshot eyes...") to temporarily ease Elmer back to the dream world ... very temporarily.
- The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950), a Chuck Jones cartoon in which Sylvester plays the Basil Rathbone-like villain to Daffy Duck's Errol Flynn-esque hero.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Sylvester appeared in various Warner Bros. television specials, and in the 1980s, he appeared in the feature-film compilations.
In the television series Tiny Toon Adventures, Sylvester appeared as the mentor of Furrball. The character also starred in The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. In the series, he plays the narrator in the beginning of episodes.
In Loonatics Unleashed Sylvester's descendent and likely Sylvester Junior's descendent is Sylth Vester, a hitman hired by the villain, Queen Granicus to kill the Royal Tweetums so she won't have to lose her throne. Despite his best efforts he's beaten by the Loonatics. Later on the series, it is shown that he's not entirely a bad guy, for he helped the Loonatics finding the Royal Tweetums (who was hidden) and fighting against Optimatus and Deuce's, and their plan to take over the Universe. Just like his ancestor, Sylth Vester tries to kill Tweety's descendant, using all kinds of tricks.
In 1985, Sylvester could be heard in an episode of the game show Press Your Luck. Host Peter Tomarken had earlier incorrectly credited his catchphrase "Suffering Succotash!" to Daffy Duck. Even though all three contestants had correctly answered "Sylvester," they were ruled incorrect. In a segment produced later and edited into the broadcast, Sylvester phoned Tomarken and told him, "Daffy Duck steals from me all the time." All three participants returned to compete in future episodes.
Sylvester has "died" the most of any Looney Tunes characters, having "died" in "I Taw a Putty Tat", "Back Alley Oproar", "Peck Up Your Troubles", "Satan's Waitin'", "Mouse Mazurka", Tweety's Circus, "Trick or Tweet", and "Tweet and Lovely".
Western Publications produced a comic book about Tweety and Sylvester entitled Tweety and Sylvester first in Dell Comics Four Color series #406, 489, and 524, then in their own title from Dell Comics (#4-37, 1954–62), then later from Gold Key Comics (#1-102, 1963–72). In a Garfield cartoon, he made a cameo by sending Rosalina (Garfield) a love letter.
In the movie Kitten with a whip, there was a scene where a Sylvester cartoon "Canned Feud" was played on the television.
Sylvester appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Werewolf VS Unicorn" voiced by Patrick Pinney. During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s announcement of illegal aliens from Mexico, Sylvester demonstrates a wired fence that will keep the aliens out, only for it to be penetrated by Speedy Gonzales.
Sylvester appears as part of the Tune Squad in Space Jam, bearing the number 9 on his jersey.
He also has two cameo appearances in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but the second time, "Sylvester" is really Mr. Smith in disguise.
In the Family Guy episode, Padre De Familia, Peter makes a new cartoon featuring a more appropriate version of Speedy Gonzales named Rapid Dave during his campaign against foreigners. Sylvester makes a cameo attempting to catch him; he was voiced by Jeff Bergman in this appearance.
Sylvester's descendant Sylth Vester appears in three episodes in the second season of Loonatics Unleashed.
A baby version of Sylvester is part of the title cast of characters in Baby Looney Tunes.
Until the mid 1960s many books called the house cat Felis sylvestris catus and asserted that the house cat was a sub-species of the European Wildcat. But in the mid 1960s studies emerged correcting the lineage, so now the domestic cat is identified as a species by itself, being a descendent of Felis lybica, which in its own turn has recently been recognized as a species apart from Felis sylvestrisTemplate:Fact.
Sylvester the Cat was created in 1945, and the scientific knowledge prevalent at the time fully justified the claim made by his creators that he is named after the domestic cat's scientific name, Felis sylvestris. Over the years public relations outlets used by the studios made this claim regarding the naming of Sylvester common knowledge, immortalizing it despite the change in scientific taxonomy.
Incidentally, although the character was named Sylvester in later cartoon shorts (beginning with 1948's Scaredy Cat), he was called "Thomas" in his first appearance with Tweety Bird in Tweetie PieTemplate:Fact.
Sylvester (as well as Speedy Gonzales and Porky Pig) appeared in a skit seen at the end of an episode of the game show Press Your Luck. Earlier in the episode, Daffy Duck was incorrectly listed as the correct answer to the question "Which well-known cartoon character is famous for uttering the immortal words 'Sufferin Succotash!'?" At the end of the episode, Mel Blanc called the show in his Sylvester voice to correct host Peter Tomarken on the gaffe. Tomarken assured "Sylvester" that future "Looney Tunes"-related questions would be run by Sylvester's office and that the three contestants in the episode would be given a second chance, as any spins that were to be awarded for the correct answer would have affected the course of the episode's gameplay.Template:Citation needed
- Main article: Sylvester Jr.
- ↑ http://archives.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/TV/07/30/cartoon.characters.list/index.html
- ↑ Blanc, Mel (1988). That's Not All, Folks!. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-51244-3.
- ↑ An interview with Bob Clampett
- ↑ The Judy Canova Show, September 7, 1943, as rebroadcast on XM Radio's Old Time Radio channel August 13, 2008
- Sylvester's history at Warner Bros' official website (requires flash).
- Main article: Sylvester the Cat/Gallery
|The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries|
|Baby Looney Tunes|
|The Looney Tunes Show|
Characters: Bugs Bunny • Daffy Duck • Porky Pig • Speedy Gonzales • Foghorn Leghorn • Yosemite Sam • Lola Bunny • Tina Russo • Elmer Fudd • Granny • Sylvester the Cat • Tweety • Witch Lezah • Gossamer • Marvin the Martian • Tasmanian Devil • Mac and Tosh • Pepé Le Pew • Wile E. Coyote • Road Runner