Sylvester J. Pussycat, Sr., or simply, Sylvester the Cat is a fictional character, a three-time Academy Award-winning anthropomorphic cat who appears in more than 90 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons made from 1945 to 1966, often chasing Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales, or Hippety Hopper. The name "Sylvester" is a play on silvestris, the scientific name for the domestic cat species. 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.
This is a Tor Edit... Let's see if it get through...
Hm... How about now?asdf
Now, perhaps? :P
Sylvester's trademark was his sloppy, 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 is done with Daffy's. Conventional wisdom is that Daffy's lisp, and hence also Sylvester's, were based on producer Leon Schlesinger's. 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/euphemism of "Suffering Savior".
Sylvester is a tuxedo cat who shows much pride in himself, and never gives up. Despite (or perhaps because of) his pride and persistence, Sylvester was, with rare exceptions, placed squarely on the "loser" side of the Looney Tunes winner/loser hierarchy. His character was basically that of Wile E. Coyote while he was chasing mice or birds. (One cartoon episode The Wild Chase paired Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote against the Road Runner and Speedy Gonzales. In the end both Sylvester and Wile E. fail as usual.) He shows a different character when paired with Porky Pig in explorations of spooky places, in which he doesn't speak as a scaredy cat. (In these cartoons, he basically plays the terrified Costello to Porky's oblivious Abbott, although he also resembles Courage the Cowardly Dog, with Porky playing the part of Muriel) 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 atypical 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 homeowner Porky Pig.
- Back Alley Op-Roar (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 ... if only temporarily.
- The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950), a Chuck Jones cartoon in which Sylvester plays the Basil Rathbone-like villain to Daffy Duck's hero.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Sylvester appeared in various Warner Bros. television specials, and ramaining 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 is Sylth Vester, a hitman hired by Granicus to kill Royal Tweetums so she won't have to lose her throne. Despite his best efforts he's beaten by the Loonatics, although he's not entirely a bad guy, since he helped the Loonatics fighting Deuce's plan to take over the Universe.
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 out of any Looney Tunes character having died in "I Taw a Putty Tat", "Back Alley Op-Roar", "Peck Up Your Troubles", "Satan's Waitin'", "Mouse Mazurka", 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).
Other Media Rectify
Sylvester appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Werewolf VS Unicorn" voiced by Frank Welker. During Arnold Schwarzenegger 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 makes a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where he provides the punchline for a double-entendre joke regarding Judge Doom's identity.
Sylvester appears as part of the TuneSquad team in Space Jam, bearing the number 9 on his shirt.
He also has a cameo appearance in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but this "Sylvester" is really Mr. Smith in disguise
Until the mid 1960's many books called the house cat Felis sylvestris catus and asserted that it is a sub-species of the European Wildcat. But in the mid 1960's 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 sylvestris.
In fact the picture is even more complex, since the classic distinction between species and sub-species used to depend on whether cross-breeding of animals of the two types produced fertile offspring. If it did, the animals were said to belong to sub-species within the same species. If not, they were recognized as being of separate species. If the distinction is made according to this test, then domestic cats and African Wildcats are both sub-species of the European Wildcat as all three can interbreed successfully and produce fertile offspring (cross breeding with feral domesticated cats is the greatest threat to the extant populations of several species of wild cats, including Felis sylvestris, Felis lybica and Felis chaus). In the last five decades genetic studies forced zoologists to abandon the classic distinction and adopt new tests based on gene analysis. According to these new test methods Felis sylvestris, Felis lybica and Felis catus (i.e. the European Wildcat, the African Wildcat and the Domestic Cat) belong to different, though very closely linked, species.
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.
Other Appearances Rectify
- "Sylvester" cat is on the badge of the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
- "Sylvester" cat is on the badge of Marine Attack Squadron 311.
- Sylvester appears in the most Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies theatrical shorts after Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
- He was referenced in a scene in the movie The Game Plan; When Joe Kingston (played by Dwayne Johnson started talking with a lisp due to his allergy to a cinnamon cookie he ate, one of his teammates mocked him by saying "Uh hey man, sufferin' succotash Sylvester, what seems to be wrong with your mouth?".
- Even though he was Sylvester in later cartoon shorts, he was named "Thomas" in his first appearance with Tweety Bird in Tweetie Pie. He was most likely called Thomas as a reference to Tom & Jerry, where Tom's unseen (from the head-up) owner Mammy Two-Shoes would always call him Thomas as well; thus, the name had to be changed. Like Mammy Two-Shoes, the woman who owned Thomas could not be seen from the head-up.
- In France, Sylvester is more known as "Grominet" as Tweety calls him, which roughly means "big kitty".
- Sylvester also appears in Baby Looney Tunes, a cartoon in which all the Looney Tunes characters are shown as babies
- When Olympia & York went into receivership (bankruptcy), their Canary Wharf project in the UK was taken over by the lending banks which then created "Sylvester Holdings" to "own" the project, as Sylvester tried to grab Tweety.
- Sylvester's history at Warner Bros' official website (requires flash).
- Sylvester the Cat Fanclub
- Pictures and wallpapers of Sylvester on the Cartoon Spot web site.