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|Tom and Jerry (WB/Turner Entertainment) character|
Tom's design in the Hanna-Barbera shorts.
|First appearance||Puss Gets the Boot
February 10, 1940
|Created by||William Hanna
|Voiced by||Clarence Nash (1940–1942)
William Hanna (1942–1958)
Billy Bletcher (1944)
Stepin Fetchit (1948)
Daws Butler (1956)
Allen Swift (1961–1962)
Mel Blanc (1963–1967)
Richard Kind (1992)
Bill Farmer (1999–2000)
Shun Yashiro, Kaneta Kimotsuki, and Setsuji Satō (Japanese)
|Relatives||George (identical cousin)|
Thomas "Tom" Cat is a fictional character and one of the title characters (the other being Jerry Mouse) in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's series of Tom and Jerry theatrical cartoon short films. Created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom is a blue/grey anthropomorphic domestic short-haired cat who first appeared in the 1940 MGM animated short Puss Gets the Boot. Tom was originally known as "Jasper" during his debut in that short; however, beginning with his next appearance in The Midnight Snack he is known as "Tom" or "Thomas".
Tom and Jerry cartoons
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His full name, "Tom Cat", is based on "tomcat", a phrase which refers to male cats. He is very rarely heard speaking with the exception of a few cartoons (such as 1943's "The Lonesome Mouse" and Tom & Jerry Tales' League of Cats) and "Tom and Jerry: The Movie". His only notable vocal sounds outside of this are his various screams whenever he is subject to pain or panic. He is continuously after Jerry Mouse, for whom he sets traps, many of which backfire and cause damage to him rather than Jerry. His trademark scream was provided by creator William Hanna.
Tom has changed remarkably over the years upon his evolution, especially after the first episodes. For example, in his debut, he was quadrupedal and had normal cat intelligence. However, over the years (since the episode Dog Trouble), he has become almost completely bipedal and has human intelligence and he is similar to his previous appearance, in 1945 shorts he had twisted whiskers and his appearance kept changing. In the 1940s and early 1950s, he had white fur between his eyes. In newer cartoons, the white fur is gone. As a slapstick cartoon character, Tom has a superhuman level of elasticity. Tom is usually defeated (or very rarely, killed, like in Mouse Trouble, where he explodes) in the end, although there are some stories where he outwits and defeats Jerry.
Besides Jerry, Tom is shown to have rivalries with some characters depending on the cartoon. One example is a black alley cat named Butch. He is shown as Tom's rival for most cartoons he's in. In the cartoon Springtime for Thomas, Jerry wrote a letter and tricked Butch into thinking it was from Toodles Galore in an attempt to get revenge on Tom. The most frequent rival of Tom is a Bulldog named Spike. This is so because Spike would protect his son Tyke. Jerry would do his best to get Tom in trouble (e.g. dirty Tyke). However in one cartoon, Tom does something that benefits Spike. Other rivals include a yellow canary named Cuckoo, a duckling named Quacker, and many others.
In most cartoon shorts, Tom almost never speaks. He usually communicates using his body language, which is shown in many shorts. He does have some human qualities, such as smoking, walking on two legs instead of four, jumping, dancing, playing the piano, etc. He even conducts an opera, which is shown in Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl and Carmen Get It!. He is also an excellent pool player (as seen in Cueball Cat) and at various other sports.
Sometimes he can be gullible in many shorts. However, he can get scared easily, as he usually panics when random stuff happens (usually caused by Jerry). In many cartoons, when Tom thinks he has outwitted Jerry or other enemies, he smiles and walks away, not realizing that he has actually lost (ending up getting injured in the process). Despite this, other times he can be very intelligent and defeats Jerry sometimes.
However, Tom can be sneaky, evil, malicious, and even insane. For example, when Jerry drives him up the wall or pushes him too far, he goes all out and loses his temper time to time, and this causes Jerry to be physically injured. In many shorts Tom is shown to have an enormous amount of strength, and even physically beats Jerry up (Little School Mouse).
Despite, he still has a calm heart and never intends to hurt anyone other than Jerry. In fact, he has been shown to have sympathy for his foe, and the two do team up on occasion.
Anchors Aweigh & Dangerous When Wet
Tom and Jerry appeared together in the 1945 Technicolor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical Anchors Aweigh where Tom briefly appears as a butler for King Jerry, the latter who has a dance sequence with Gene Kelly, and also in another musical with the same studio Dangerous When Wet (1953), where, in a dream sequence, main character Katie Higgins (Esther Williams) does an underwater ballet with Tom and Jerry, as well as animated depictions of the different people in her life.
In most of Tom's appearances, he had very little dialogue. In the early 1940s shorts, Clarence Nash provided the hisses, meows, and screeches for the character. After 1942, Tom and Jerry co-creator William Hanna provided the gasps, screams, yells, and laughs until the demise of the MGM Cartoon Studio in 1957. In between this time period, Harry E. Lang, Billy Bletcher, and Daws Butler provided vocal sounds for Tom. In Mouse Cleaning (1948), actor Stepin Fetchit voiced him in a sequence in the cartoon.