Sidney the Elephant is a 44-year-old elephant created by Gene Deitch, while he is an adult, he always acts like a child. He is very much unhappy with his Jungle lifestyle, finding things to be too noisy and too boring, after all, there's not much to do outside of counting coconuts... Or is there?
Sidney's first cartoon (though he'd appeared earlier as an incidental character in Tom Terrific) was Sick, Sick Sidney, which was also directed by Bartsch and released in 1958, as part of a new wave of Terrytoons. The studio had recently been bought by CBS, and the new artistic director, Gene Deitch (who would later produce a brief but vividly remembered series of Tom & Jerry cartoons for MGM), scrapped the ongoing characters and started from scratch. Gone were Little Roquefort and Dinky Duck; in their place were Clint Clobber and Gaston Le Crayon. But the voices were by studio regulars — Sidney's by Lionel Wilson (Tom Terrific), who also did some of Sidney's pals, and other pals by Dayton Allen (Deputy Dawg) he was back in 1948-1951.
Deitch received most of his training at UPA, the studio that changed the face of animation in the 1950s, where he got his start on Gerald McBoing-Boing's TV show; and so, the Sidney cartoons represented the UPA-influenced '50s style in both appearance and content. The Elephant was both bumbling and, in the spirit of the times, neurotic. The cartoons were mostly about his friends, Stanley the Lion and Cleo (Or in some of the earlier shorts "Carol") the Giraffe, trying to keep him from knocking down the whole jungle, while Stanley doesn't much care for Sidney (often insulting him and wanting to left alone) Cleo does (normally playing a more encouraging yet less involved role). The second short Sidney appeared in "Sidney's Family Tree" was nominated for an Oscar, however, it lost to the short "Knighty Knight Bugs".
Deitch's Terrytoons reign was brief before he was fired (He later went on to direct several cartoons for MGM and Paramount), and so were the careers of most of the new characters. When Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle returned, in 1959, Sidney was the only one from the Deitch era to remain in production. Over a dozen and a half Sidney cartoons were made, the last few appearing only on TV as part of the 1963-64 primetime series, The Hector Heathcote Show.
As the shorts went on the giraffe's name was firmly established as Cleo, instead of always changing. Another change began with the short "Clown Jewels" Sidney's voice actor, Lionel Wilson, changed the way he performed the character, going for a less loud and more nasally kinda sound. However it changed once again starting with the cartoon "Send Your Elephant To Camp", with Wilson still voicing the characters around Sidney, but Sidney himself would be played from then on by Dayton Allen.
Sidney made a similar impact in comic books, appearing only in the back pages of a few comics where other Terrytoons characters were the stars.
His latest appearance was in the Pilot "Curbside", where he starred in the middle short alongside Stanley, Cleo and some sort of unnamed mute baby Rhino, who was likely going to be a new supporting character.
- Sick, Sick Sidney (Filmed in CinemaScope)
- Sidney's Family Tree (Filmed in CinemaScope. Nominated for an Oscar, however, it didn't win.)
- Clown Jewels
- Banana Binge
- Fleet's Out
- Meat, Drink And Be Merry
- Really Big Act
- Tree Spree (Submitted to Oscars in hope that it'd be nominated, it wasn't.)
Sidney is probably one of the most well known and liked character to come out of Deitch's era, with him being one of the characters considered iconic enough to be included in the Curbside pilot. His first two cartoons are said to be his best and are likely his most famous.
Sidney's Oscar nomination led a parody of him named "Slappy Stanley" who turned up in the Tiny Toons episode "Who bopped Bugs Bunny?" from 1990, as a villain, where he kidnapped Bugs Bunny and tried to frame Daffy Duck, as revenge for "stealing" his award. The design of this spoof was done by John Kricfalusi, ironic, as Kricfalusi was well known for hating the Tiny Toons series. It's clear that while he may be sick sick sick of goes on in his life, we aren't.
- According to the short "Driven to Extraction" Sidney weighs nineteen hundred and forty pounds.
- Sidney hates fireworks.
- Throughout all his classic shorts his voice changed three times (two if you only count when his voice actor changed).