Julius the Cat

Julius the Cat is a cartoon animal character created in 1922 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. He first appeared in the very first animated series created by Walt Disney, the Alice Comedies, making him the predecessor of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Mickey Mouse. Julius is an anthropomorphic cat, appearing intentionally similar to Felix the Cat. A bold and inventive hero, he gradually became the primary focus of the Alice Comedies, to the point Disney abandoned live action for pure animation on subsequent projects.

Julius
Julius the Cat.svg
Julius in his original design.
First appearanceLittle Red Riding Hood (July 29, 1922)
Last appearanceAlice the Beach Nut (August 8, 1927)
Created byWalt Disney
Ub Iwerks
In-universe information
AliasMike, Mio Miao, Otto, Peter The Puss
SpeciesCat
GenderMale

Julius was the first of Disney's animated protagonists to battle Pete, their oldest continuing character.

The two "Julius Katz" stores on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure are named in his honor.

HistoryEdit

 
Julius and Alice (Anne Shirley) in a scene from Alice's Egg Plant (1925)

The character first appeared (without a name) in eight of the ten animated shorts created by Disney's first studio effort, Laugh-O-Gram Studio, the last of these being the pilot of the Alice Comedies, Alice's Wonderland.[1]: 14 After a trial run as "Mike" (in Alice the Peacemaker), he would receive his permanent name of Julius in Alice's Egg Plant,[2] making him Walt Disney's first named animated character.[3]: 302 The primary motivation for the creation of the character was that Charles Mintz wanted to have the greatest possible visual gags in the series.[1]: 14 Since the young Alice, first played by Virginia Davis, then only seven years old, could not be relied on for the comic role, she needed a partner, and Julius the Cat filled that role.[1]: 14 Throughout the course of the Alice series, the animated Julius was increasingly made the central focus, over the live action Alice.[4]

In one of his first appearances, Alice's Fishy Story, Julius' tail demonstrates its great versatility, a recurring characteristic in the series.[1]: 15 Walt repeatedly played on the mythology of cats having nine lives.[5] In the short film Alice the Peacemaker, he is partnered with a mouse named Ike (a forerunner to Mickey Mouse). This cat/mouse pairing was one of many famous animated duos from Krazy Kat (and Ignatz) through Tom and Jerry and Itchy and Scratchy. Julius was the first of Disney's animated characters to be antagonized by Pete, beginning in Alice Solves the Puzzle. He would later box him in Alice Picks the Champ.[6]

He has occasionally appeared in Disney comics under the name "Mio Miao" in Italian and "Otto" in Swedish.[7]

CharacterEdit

Julius was bold, resourceful and ingenious, playing the role of the hero, frequently rescuing damsel-in-distress Alice. He often used his prehensile tail to his advantage, as a crane, unicycle, ladder, or other useful tool. Ub Iwerks' unique animation style resulted in smooth, fluid movement.[8]

Similarity to FelixEdit

In the early days of animation, Felix the Cat, who was created in November 9, 1919 by Otto Messmer for Pat Sullivan's studio, was the template for a successful animated character.[9][10] Julius' similarity to Felix was not accidental, but due to Margaret Winkler urging the reluctant Disney to copy him. She had been the distributor for Felix the Cat, but was constantly fighting with Sullivan, eventually leading to a split, so she turned to Disney to fill the void. Like Felix, Julius would pace and detach his tail. When he was in a quandary, visible question marks would form over his head. The New York Times went so far as to call Julius a "blatant clone... from the rubber-hose-and-circle design to the detachable body parts."[11][12]

LegacyEdit

 
Julius Katz & Sons store at Disney's California Adventure

Many of the individual Alice Comedies films have been re-released, in packages like Disney Rarities: Celebrated Shorts: 1920s–1960s and Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The Mickey Mouse cartoon Runaway Brain also features a character who, though visually modeled after Pete, is named Julius.

Disney California Adventure's Julius Katz Shoe & Watch Repair and Julius Katz & Sons Appliance Repair stores on Buena Vista Street are named after Julius.[13]

FilmographyEdit

Jack the Giant Killer

The Julius character appeared in 49 of the 57 films of the Alice Comedies series.

1922Edit

  • Little Red Riding Hood (anonymous appearance)
  • The Four Musicians of Bremen
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Jack the Giant Killer
  • Goldie Locks and the Three Bears
  • Puss in Boots
  • Cinderella
Alice's Wonderland

1923Edit

  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Alice's Wonderland (anonymous appearance; work unfinished at studio bankruptcy)

1924Edit

1925Edit

1926Edit

1927Edit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d John Grant, The Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters
  2. ^ Intanibase
  3. ^ Dave Smith, Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Gabler, Neal (2007). Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination. Vintage Books. p. 87. ISBN 9780679757474. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  5. ^ Robb, Brian J (October 16, 2014). A Brief History of Walt Disney. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 22. ISBN 9781472110725. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  6. ^ Merritt, Russell; Kaufman, J. B. (2000). Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8018-6429-2.
  7. ^ INDUCKS
  8. ^ Lee, Newton; Madej, Krystina (April 26, 2012). Disney Stories: Getting to Digital. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 29. ISBN 9781461421016. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  9. ^ Cart, Michael (March 31, 1991). "The Cat With the Killer Personality". The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  10. ^ Mendoza, N.F. (August 27, 1995). "For fall, a classically restyled puddy tat and Felix the Cat". LA Times. Retrieved August 24, 2010.
  11. ^ Canemaker, John (July 10, 1994). "Life Before Mickey". The New York Times. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
  12. ^ Fischer, Lucy (April 15, 2009). American Cinema of the 1920s: Themes and Variations. Rutgers University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-8135-4715-2.
  13. ^ Glass, John (February 20, 2014). Things To Do At Disney California Adventure 2014: The Ultimate Unauthorized Adventure Guide. Alternative Travel Press. pp. 175–6. Retrieved August 12, 2015.