An Mighty Mouse Paull Terry Title Card

Mighty Mouse is an animated superhero mouse character created by the Terrytoons studio for 20th Century Fox.

His costume is suggestive of Superman in particular and all superheroes in general. He wears a gold leotard with a red cape, boots and pants. Unlike most superheroes, he doesn't have an insignia or logo on his chest or cape. Originally a parody of Superman, Mighty Mouse quickly took on a distinctive personality of his own.

While Superman became more complicated, Mighty Mouse became more simplified in his focus. He is an ordinary mouse with extraordinary powers. Generally, these powers seems limited to flying, super strength and speed with just a degree of invulnerability. (On at least one occasion he also exhibited mystical powers that allowed him to "mentally" command water.)

He is equally as effective battling huge sinister cats as he was handling natural disasters like floods and exploding volcanoes. He is so powerful that in his early cartoons he often appeared only in the final moments to save the day. He resembles a comet streaking through the sky as he rushed to aid he helpless.

Mighty Mouse's base of operations changed over the years. His home at various times is a supermarket, a plush skyscraper office and even the Moon. At other times, he is a disguised "mysterious stranger" wandering around the country helping those in distress.

Despite his great powers, Mighty Mouse's personality is much like a humble country boy. Even though he is obviously an adult mouse, this modest young boy attitude helps make such a powerful character appealing to children of all ages. It is not unusual that a kiss from a rescued maiden brings a deep red blush to his entire face. This bashfulness makes him tremendously appealing to a variety of women. In the early cartoons Mighty Mouse is the object of affection of many female mice including some like the Gypsy Princess, Sweet Susette and Krakatoa Katie. He eventually concentrated his affections on Pearl Pureheart.

Mighty Mouse is a mouse of few words. He take himself and his responsibility as a crusader against evil very seriously. In the heat of battle, he offers no clever quips. Even if his foes resorte to trickery, Mighty Mouse still fight fairly.

While Mighty Mouse may be best remembered for his countless battles against mice-hungry felines, he also battled a large assortment of other recurring bullies including a nameless wolf and Oil Can Harry.

Mighty Mouse has normal intelligence. He solves problems with his strength and common sense, not through analytical planning or new inventions that he created. It is surprising that villains never really took greater advantage of his natural good nature and gullibility.

When the series evolved into a melodrama format, Mighty Mouse truly became the embodiment of all that was good locked in an endless battle against evil. While he might smile, it was clear that he was accomplishing fantastic feats because it was his duty not because of personal pleasure. Even in a more recent revival, Mighty Mouse retained the boy scout personality that has served him well for almost half a century.

History Edit

The character was created by story man Izzy Klein as a super-powered housefly named Superfly. Studio head Paul Terry changed the character into a cartoon mouse instead (click here for the Terrytoon theatrical shorts series).

Originally created as a parody of Superman, he first appeared in 1942 in a theatrical animated short titled The Mouse of Tomorrow. The original name of the character was Super Mouse, but after 7 cartoons produced in 1942-1943, it was changed in the 1944 cartoon The Wreck of the Hesperus to Mighty Mouse when Paul Terry learned that another character with the same name was being published in comic books. Super Mouse appeared briefly in the Marvel Comics interpretation of the character and was nicknamed Terry the First, as he was the first version of the character.

Mighty Mouse originally had a blue costume with red trunks and a red cape, like Superman, but over time this outfit changed to a yellow costume with red trunks and a red cape, his most popular colors. As with other imitations of Superman, Mighty Mouse's super powers include flight, super strength, and invulnerability. He has demonstrated the use of X-ray vision in at least one episode, while during several cartoons he used a form of telekinesis that allowed him to command inanimate objects and turn back time (as in the cartoons The Johnstown Flood and Krakatoa). Other cartoons have him leaving a red contrail during flight which he can manipulate at will like a band of solid flexible matter.

The initial formula of each story consisted of an extended setup of a crisis which needs extraordinary help to resolve, after which Mighty Mouse appears to save the day. Mighty Mouse was originally voiced by Roy Halee, Sr., and later by Tom Morrison in some cartoons.

The early operatic Mighty Mouse cartoons often portrayed Mighty Mouse as a ruthless fighter. He would dole out a considerable amount of punishment, subduing opponent cats to the point of giving up their evil plan and running away. Mighty Mouse would then chase down the escaping cats, and continue beating them mercilessly, usually hurling or punching them miles away to finish the fight. A favorite move is to suddenly fly up to just under a much larger opponent's chin and throw a blinding flurry of punches that leaves the enemy reeling.

Mighty Mouse had two mouse girlfriends named Pearl Pureheart (in the cartoons) and Mitzi (in the comics during the 1950s and 1960s), and his arch-enemy is an evil villain cat named Oil Can Harry (who originated as a human from earlier Terrytoons as the enemy of Fanny Zilch). These characters were created for a series of Mighty Mouse cartoons that spoofed the old cliffhanger serials of the days of silent film, as well as the classic operettas of stage that were still popular at the time. The cartoons, beginning with A Fight to the Finish (1947), usually began with Mighty Mouse and Pearl Pureheart already in a desperate situation, as if they were the next chapter of the serial. The characters often sang mock opera songs during these cartoons (e.g., Pearl: "Oil Can Harry, you're a villain!"; Oil Can Harry: "I know it, but it's a lot of fun..."). Mighty Mouse a tenor, Pearl a soprano, and Oil Can Harry an alto/bass. Mighty Mouse was also known for singing, "Here I come to save the day!" when flying into action. Mighty Mouse's home town is Mouseville, populated mostly by anthropomorphic cartoon mice.

Mighty Mouse fought other villains, though most of them appeared in only one or two cartoons. In at least two cartoons from 1949 and 1950 (Law and Order) he faced a huge, dim-witted, but super-strong cat named Julius Pinhead "Schlabotka" (this cat's name was only spoken and never spelled out), voiced by Dayton Allen, whose strength rivaled Mighty Mouse's own. In another cartoon, titled The Green Line (1944), the cats live on one side of the main street of a town and the mice on the other, with a green line down the middle of the street serving as the dividing line. They agree to keep the peace as long as no one crosses it. An evil entity, a Satan cat, comes and starts the cats and mice fighting. At the end, Mighty Mouse is cheered by mice and cats alike.

In the episode Krakatoa (1945), Mighty Mouse lassoed the super-volcano Krakatoa, saving the island's inhabitants from the pyroclastic flow. Most memorably, one of the most seductive love-interest for Mighty Mouse makes her appearance, Krakatoa Katie. Memorable is her dancing and her theme song: "Krakatoa Katie, she ain't no lady, when she starts to shake her sarong.."

Mighty Mouse Playhouse Edit

Mighty Mouse was not extraordinarily popular in theatrical cartoons, but was still Terrytoons' most popular character. What made him a cultural icon was television. Paul Terry sold the Terrytoon company to CBS in 1955. The network began running Mighty Mouse Playhouse in December 1955. It remained on the air for nearly twelve years (and featured The Mighty Heroes during the final season). Mighty Mouse cartoons became a staple of children's television programming for a period of over thirty years, from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Despite the character's popularity on TV, Terrytoons produced only three further Mighty Mouse theatrical cartoons in the 1959–1961 time frame. The company evidently believed that the existing library of 80 episodes (including the first 7 'super mouse' cartoons) was enough to keep youngsters tuning in to CBS every Saturday morning.

Mighty Mouse was also featured on Tom Scholz's Les Paul guitar.

Some early vinyls credit the original 1955 Mighty Mouse Playhouse theme song to The Terrytooners, Mitch Miller and Orchestra, but recent publishing has generally credited The Sandpipers]].

Comics Edit

Several publishers put out Mighty Mouse comic books. There were two main titles: Mighty Mouse and The Adventures of Mighty Mouse.

Mighty Mouse

  • Timely Comics #1-4 (1946)
  • St. John Publications #5-67 (1947–1955)
  • Pines Comics #68-83 (1956–1959)

The Adventures of Mighty Mouse (renaming of Terry's Comics, where Mighty Mouse appeared)

  • St. John Publications #126-128 (1955)
  • Pines Comics #129-144 (1956–1959)
  • Dell Comics #145-155 (1959–1961)
  • Gold Key Comics #156-160 (1962–1963)
  • Dell Comics #161-?? (1963–??)

Mighty Mouse, Marvel Comics, #1-10 (1990), based on the Ralph Bakshi version ([Mouse:The New Adventures|Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures])

Revivals Edit

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Filmation made television cartoons starring Mighty Mouse and fellow Terrytoon characters Heckle and Jeckle (both voiced by Frank Welker) in a show called The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, where two new characters were created: a vampire duck named Quacula (not to be confused with Count Duckula), and Harry's bumbling, overweight, but swift-running henchman, Swifty. The show premiered in 1979 and lasted for two seasons. It even spawned a limited theatrical release matinee movie, Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase, released December 10, 1982. In the Filmation series and movies, Mighty Mouse and Oil Can Harry were voiced by veteran voice artist Alan Oppenheimer, and Pearl Pureheart was voiced by Diane Pershing.

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures Edit

Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was a 1987-1988 series created by Ralph Bakshi. The series was more of a self-parody of Terrytoons and animal superhero tropes. Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures has long since been seen as a ground-breaking series that paved the way for various animated series such as Ren and Stimpy and South Park.

Later Years Edit

Mighty Mouse appeared in the 1999 pilot The Curbside.

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies were working on a CGI Mighty Mouse feature film, with Barry E. Jackson providing conceptual art, and with screenwriting by Maurice Chauvet and Christopher Vail. As of 2018, it is in development hell.

The rights to Mighty Mouse are now divided as a result of the 2006 corporate split of Viacom (the former owner of the Terrytoons franchise) into two separate companies. CBS Operations (a unit of the current CBS Corporation) owns the ancillary rights and trademarks to the character, while Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD holds home video rights. The first official release of Mighty Mouse material has been announced and what is now CBS Television Distribution has television syndication rights (the shorts are currently out of circulation).

At least one episode of Mighty Mouse, "Wolf! Wolf!" has fallen into the public domain and is available at the Internet Archive.

DVD releases Edit

  • Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the first official release of Mighty Mouse material, was released on January 5, 2010.
  • The animated short "Wolf Wolf", the only Mighty Mouse cartoon in the public domain, has been released on low-budget DVDs and VHS tapes numerous times.