Topo Gigio

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DVD Cover for Topo Gigio And Friends

Topo Gigio (Italian pronunciation: [ˈtɔːpo ˈdʒiːdʒo]) was the lead character of a children's puppet show on Italian and Spanish television in the early 1960s. The character, created by artist Maria Perego, debuted on Italian television in 1959 and has been customarily voiced by actor Giuseppe "Peppino" Mazzullo and later Davide Garbolino. The Italian nickname "Gigi" is a derivative of Luigi ("Louis"),[1] so Topo Gigio could be translated as Louie Mouse.

Topo Gigio, a soft foam mouse with dreamy eyes and a childish personality, was very popular in Italy for many years—not only on TV, but also in children's magazines, such as the classical Corriere dei Piccoli, animated cartoons, movies, and merchandising. The character's popularity spread to the world after being featured on The Ed Sullivan Show in the US.

Today, Topo Gigio still has a cohort of faithful fans, and has become an icon of Italian and Spanish pop culture. He performs regularly at Zecchino d'Oro festival and other programs created by Antoniano and RAI. In 1965, a feature-length motion picture The Magic World of Topo Gigio was released internationally.

The puppet has made appearances and has a fan base in many other countries—including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the former Yugoslavia.

The puppet made several appearances on UK TV on ITV's Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the 1960s, and his wistful persona endeared him to British viewers of all ages.


During the first half of the 1960s (especially in 1964), there was a TV music show presented by the British singer Chris Howland both in Austria and Germany; in Austria Mike Molto had a special small show to help the advertising industry in the early 1960s. (Austrian television advertising first started in 1959.) Topo Gigio was part of the Italian puppet show of Madame Maria Perego. A 1969 color television show especially for children in Austria and Switzerland was called Cappuccetto and Her Adventures with her friends Lupo Lupone, Professor Lhotko, a fox, some other animals of the forest, her grandmother and a music band with five little mushrooms playing on guitars and singing.[2]

During the 1960s, the American Topo Gigio appeared on the long-running CBS-TV variety show The Ed Sullivan Show.[3] Created by a troupe of Italian puppeteers, it took four people to bring the 10" tall character to life, three to manipulate him and one to create his voice. The puppet stood in a special "limbo" black art stage with black velvet curtains, designed to absorb as much ambient light as possible, which helped hide the puppeteers, who also dressed in black from head to toe. Each puppeteer operated a different part of Gigio's foam rubber body by using several wooden dowel rods (also painted black). The illusion was quite remarkable, since unlike traditional hand puppets, Topo Gigio could actually appear to walk on his feet, sing, make subtle hand gestures, and even walk up Ed Sullivan's arm and perch on his shoulder. Careful lighting and TV camera adjustment made the "black art" illusion perfect for the television audience, though on at least one appearance, Ed asked the puppeteers to come out and take a bow, revealing their black-clad appearance (though deftly hiding Gigio's mechanisms to conceal the secret). In more than fifty appearances on the show, the mouse would appear on stage and greet Sullivan with, "Hello, Eddie!". Gigio would occasionally talk about his girlfriend, Rosie. Gigio ended his weekly visits by crooning to the host, "Eddie, kiss me goodnight!" (pronounced as "Keesa me goo'night!"). Topo Gigio closed Sullivan's final show in 1971.

The character was also introduced in South America, Spain and in Japan. A Japanese animated television series with two seasons, produced by Nippon Animation, aired in Japan in 1988. The character has also appeared in several films. The feature film The Magic World of Topo Gigio was released in 1965. Topo Gigio and the Missile War, a Japanese-Italian international co-production film directed by Kon Ichikawa, was released in 1967 in Japan.

The character still appears in Italian and Spanish speaking territories.[citation needed] He is also "the spokes-mouse" for the United Nations.[citation needed]

References in popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ caterina Sacco (2009-03-11), Ma cosa mi dici mai. Happy Birthday Topo Gigio, Accessed on 2009-12-16.
  2. ^ Suschny, Peter. Austrian Museum of Advertising, Vienna, Austria
  3. ^ Topo Gigio at
  4. ^ Brooker, Charlie. "Grumble in the jungle", The Guardian, 27 November 2004.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Restaurant Topo Gigio
  7. ^ Topo Gigio Restaurant, Swansea
  8. ^ "Colégio Topo Gigio". 

External links[edit]