These classic cartoons have entertained for generations
Hollywood-based, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced perhaps the finest cartoon series of all time. Directed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Tom and Jerry cartoons have delighted millions from the 1940s to the present. In the 1960s, directors Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones (who also produced) churned out episodes, and Warner Brothers produced in 2005 the most recent installment, The Karate Guard. The series, a total of 161 cartoons, has won seven Academy Awards for short subjects in cartoons, starting in 1943 with a cartoon entitled, The Yankee Doodle Mouse.
In the beginning, Tom and Jerry was first produced as competition for Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, first introduced in 1928. The title of the series refers to the phrase “Tom and Jerry,” that is fighting, drinking and causing trouble, as shown in Pierce Egan’s book, Life in London, published in 1920. Of course, Tom and Jerry, a cat and mouse, aren’t people who drink and cause trouble, but the title, too good to pass up, remained with the series even after an initial lack of success with human figures instead of a cat and mouse.
According to the Web site for the Cartoon Network, which currently shows Tom and Jerry cartoons, “Tom is a cat whose life revolves around napping, eating and chasing Jerry. Tom is always coming up with plans to catch Jerry, but that clever little mouse is always one step ahead.”
Fred Quimby produced the series for 18 years, until the end of the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” in the early 1950s more or less, when television began keeping people at home rather than going to the movies. Then the Tom and Jerry crew went widescreen with CinemaScope in 1954, producing Pet Peeve, and then, using Perspecta Stereo as well in 1956, making Barbecue Brawl.
Along the way, cartoonist Tex Avery produced some Tom and Jerry tribute cartoons entitled The House of Tomorrow (1949) and The Car of Tomorrow (1951). Avery also worked in MGM’s animation department, and these works are considered exemplary within the Tom and Jerry oeuvre.
However, to save money, limited animation was borne and the results were like the difference between the art of Leonardo Da Vinci and Andy Warhol. The lush, ornate cartoons of the 1940s and early 1950s, considered works of art to cartoon purists, were replaced with episodes of static figures and sketchy, minimalistic backgrounds. Instead of seeing facial transition while the figure talked, you’d only see the lips move!
Then, in 1961, Gene Deitch signed a contract to produce 13 Tom and Jerry shorts. Using Czechoslovakian animators, the results were somewhat disappointing: Tom and Jerry didn’t resemble the old lovable Tom and Jerry of year’s past; their charm, individuality and irrepressible qualities had been lost in the ink, if you will. Nevertheless, although the animation certainly wasn’t the best in the series, Deitch’s stories were very amusing, particularly in the one entitled, Carmen Get It.
Next, legendary cartoon animator Chuck Jones took over the helm in 1963. Jones, formerly of Warner Brothers (introducing the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, among other feats), changed the look of Tom, making him appear a little like a cross between Boris Karloff and Bugs Bunny, and Jerry now resembled Speedy Gonzales minus the moustache. The Tom and Jerry logo was also given a new look, with Tom meowing peevishly after MGM’s roaring lion makes its usual appearance.
After producing 34 cartoons, Jones was let go in 1967, then he moved on to television, because MGM thought the market for theatrical cartoons had disappeared like a cartoon ghost - poof!
After that, in 1975, Hanna-Barbera resurrected Tom and Jerry for a new Saturday morning cartoon show but, to appease studio execs, Tom and Jerry’s characters had to be revamped and the violence toned down. Now Tom and Jerry were pals who took adventures and solved crimes.
In 1989, Hanna-Barbera produced Tom and Jerry Kids, offering the cat and mouse as children.
Lastly, in 2005, Warner Brothers produced The Karate Guard, produced by Joseph Barbera and Spike Brandt. The cartoon shows obvious references to the movie, The Karate Kid. Happily, this episode is like a product of the old days. Hurray! But if the series would continue, it would have to without William Hannah, Joseph Barbera and Chuck Jones, as they are all deceased.
Perhaps two of the best Tom and Jerry cartoons are The Two Mouseketeers (1952) and Mouse in Manhattan (1945), both of which from the “Golden Age” of Tom and Jerry cartoons – 1940 to 1958. The animation in each is flawless and the background artwork is like the best glass paintings in those high-production CinemaScope movies of the era. And the Gershwin-esque music in Manhattan is redolent of the jazz age.
If you’re getting up there in years, perhaps you should watch more cartoons, particularly ones showing that lovable cat and mouse team of Tom and Jerry. Recapturing the magic of one’s childhood ain’t such a bad idea! And if you happen to be young, then pull up a chair and prepare to watch the best cartoons ever.
Please leave a comment.
© 2010 Kelley Marks
Stephen Rhodes on July 12, 2020:
It feels good to be loved dearly by a cute little girl like Megan!
Megan’s big buddy on July 03, 2020:
There’s nothing wrong with T&J being pals in the 1975 T&J! In fact it would be less good if they weren’t!
Stephen Treadwell on July 03, 2020:
Megan is a little sweetheart! I’m glad IBC’s had all 3 of those missions trips to Trinidad!
Stephen Treadwell on June 29, 2020:
The 1975 T&J is the most interesting, the most amazing & the most creative cartoon ever made!
Stephen Treadwell on August 14, 2019:
The GD T&J's are not amusing!
Stephen Treadwell on December 03, 2018:
How can anyone say the 1975 T&J's not very cute?!
Megan's buddy on July 04, 2017:
I disagree about GD's T&J's being very amusing.
Treadwell on August 27, 2015:
I found a message on google the other day saying Road Runner's the best cartoon ever made. I find it hard to believe anyone would think that!
Stephen Treadwell on August 09, 2015:
Megan is such a sweet little girl! I'm glad I got to play w/ her in Trinidad.
Stephen Treadwell on July 20, 2015:
The 1975 T&J is the most remarkable one!
Stephen of Whales on June 25, 2015:
The 1975 Tom & Jerry is not horrible! It's amazingly good!
Prince of Whales on June 24, 2015:
It's such a shame the 1975 T&J didn't last longer!
Stephen Treadwell on June 14, 2015:
Someone told me on youtube that Tom has more bad luck than Sylvester. He or she is definitely wrong!
Stephen Treadwell on February 27, 2015:
Looney Tunes are unattractive
Whale Lover on January 04, 2015:
I found a message on google this morning telling me the GD T&J's are fantastic! Boy, do I disagree! They're not very good, partly because they don't have very good graphics but mostly because they're too one-sided.
Stephen Treadwell on December 31, 2014:
The 1975 Tom & Jerry is, to me at least, the most attractive one.
Stephen Treadwell on December 23, 2014:
I still think the GD T&J's are better than RR or T&S. The main reason I think T&J's a better cartoon than RR or T&S is that it's less one-sided. The GD ones are the most one-sided but still not as one-sided as RR or T&S.
Stephen Treadwell on October 29, 2014:
I found a message on google saying the 1975 T&J doesn't have a very good coloring style & I disagree. I think it has a very good coloring style.
SRT on October 05, 2014:
The choir retreat was great! They enjoyed my wolf slippers!
IBC man on September 27, 2014:
I found a message on google today from someone named Alex Irish & he said he disagrees w/ me about the 1975 T&J being beautifully drawn. Boy, do I disagree! I would agree if he said the Gene Deitch one or the Filmation one's not but the 1975 one's way nicer looking than those!
All Year Santa Claus on September 17, 2014:
I enjoyed giving Hannah that little rubber duckie!
SRT on September 02, 2014:
T&J's funnier than RR & T&S, partly because it's less one-sided.
Stephen Treadwell on August 31, 2014:
It's incorrect to say T&J are more like RR & T&S than any other WB cartoon. Those WB cartoons w/ Foghorn Leghorn & the Barnyard Dawg are more like T&J.
SRT on August 27, 2014:
I disagree about LT's being the best cartoons ever! I don't care for the graphics of them. Their graphics are quite dull looking & they make my head ache.
Stephen Treadwell on August 25, 2014:
I hope Axel feels better soon!
Stephen Treadwell on August 23, 2014:
Road Runner & Tweety & Sylvester are too one-sided to be great cartoons in my opinion.
Stephen Treadwell on August 23, 2014:
I think RR cartoons are terrible! All the luck Wile E has is bad & all the luck RR has is good & I think that makes the cartoon terrible no matter what.
Stephen Treadwell on August 20, 2014:
What's so ridiculous about me thinking the GD T&J's are better than RR or T&S? All 3 of those cartoons are too one-sided & none of them is very cute.
Stephen Treadwell on August 16, 2014:
I think T&J are more than slightly better than T&S or RR & WC. I think they're better no comparison.
Stephen Treadwell on July 11, 2014:
I definitely prefer Tom to Sylvester or Wile E Coyote! I think he's way funnier & besides he's so much more original & those 2 silly Looney Toons characters are so much more predictable & I think Tom's more fun considering he doesn't suffer anywhere near as much! Besides he's more interesting & more beautifully drawn & his cartoons are cuter & have better music.
Stephen Treadwell on June 21, 2014:
I agree the 1975 T&J's not very good. It's unbelievably good!
Stephen Treadwell on June 19, 2014:
The 1975 T&J is not insipid! It's very pleasant.
stephen treadwell on April 28, 2014:
I definitely prefer Tom to Sylvester. I think he's way funnier & besides he's so much more original & Sylvester's so much more predictable & I think Tom's more fun considering he doesn't have anywhere near as much bad luck.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on January 16, 2014:
Thanks for the comment, trusouldj. The Tom and Jerry cartoons have a different look for every era, which is to be expected, I suppose, no matter how much we prefer those 'toons from the classic era, the 1940s or so. Later!
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on January 15, 2014:
I believe Chuck jones' version is the one where Tom had the pointy, angry eyebrows. I didn't really care for those. I liked a few of the Gene versions, but not at all my preference. The best for me were the ones from the era with the duck. Classics. I believe Hannah and Barbera directed those for MGM.
Stephen Treadwell on July 01, 2013:
The 1975 Tom & Jerry not very good?! Not very good, my foot! It's unbelievably good; better than you'd think a cartoon could be!
EJ Lambert from Chicago, IL on May 20, 2013:
I respect your opinion. It was a classic series worthy of the praise it gets.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 20, 2013:
Thanks for the comment, EJ Lambert. You're right about Loony Tunes - they've certainly produced some of the best cartoons ever. But I think the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons are the best ever. The animation in those was positively Disney-esque. Later!
EJ Lambert from Chicago, IL on May 19, 2013:
Tom and Jerry was an all-time great in the animated industry. They shunned the need for dialogue and relied on the unexpected beauty of physical violence and accompanied music to create the kind of hilarity that is rare in any age. That said, it is not the greatest cartoon ever. That honor is reserved for Looney Tunes. That program has more recognizable characters, a greater fan following and also longevity. Tom & Jerry only lasted in its original form (Hanna-Barbera) for 18 years. Looney Tunes in its most recognizable form (Mel Blanc voice overs) lasted from 1937 to 1969. That's 32 years. To me that makes LT the best cartoon of all time.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 18, 2013:
Thanks for the comment, peachpurple, I love Tom and Jerry too. They're still the best, ya know? Later!
peachy from Home Sweet Home on May 18, 2013:
thanks for the great hub. I love Tom and jerry since I was young. Love to watch how tom catches jerry and end up being tricked by jerry. Clever tricks ! No wonder the modern mouse are clever. They don't even get trap into the mouse trap. My kids love to watch Tom and Jerry cartoon too. Voted up
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 17, 2013:
Thanks for the video Britn, I loaded it. You gotta love Tom and Jerry. Later!
Britn on May 17, 2013:
Nice post! Love them!
See this Tom and Jerry Guitar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goDZo5XPWQk
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on April 26, 2013:
You're right, Greenkitten, the Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoon certainly weren't the best of the bunch, but the older ones and some of the newer ones certainly are classics. Loony Tunes cartoons are also very good, especially Daffy Duck and Road Runner. Let's not forget Walt Disney's Donald Duck and Goofy, either. Later!
GreenKitten on April 26, 2013:
Tom and Jerry was my favourite as a kid, but as I grew up I started to love the Looney Tunes more (I still liked them as a kid, though.)
I think Tom & Jerry are slightly better than Tweety & Sylvester and Coyote & Road Runner like Stephen, but I think on the whole Looney Tunes is the best cartoon series ever. More classic characters, like Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Elmer. Looney Tunes had 1000 shorts and there's some for everyone.
Tom & Jerry is good but it doesn't compare to the Looney Tunes!
Stephen, I've watched a bit of the 1975 show but it is not very good. It just seems very cheap :(
Also, how can you compare Tweety & Sylvester and Road Runner with the Gene Deitch Tom & Jerrys? Gene Deitch's Tom & Jerrys are awful! At least Tweety & Sylvester and Road Runner are great cartoons!
TandJcartoons on April 08, 2013:
it's really amazing to watch tom and jerry. brand new cartoons are not the same quality. http://youtu.be/dquzcbTQo4w
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on June 17, 2012:
Did you ever check out the Tom & Jerry Show & decide if it's as cute as I say?
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on December 23, 2011:
It says above the Gene Deitch T&J's were very amusing. I disagree. I don't think they were very amusing at all.
John on October 02, 2011:
The Tom and Jerry cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s were amazing. They were made during an era when quality meant something.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on June 30, 2011:
The cartoons made by Deitch didn't have the best animation, but the stories were mostly up to par. Thanks for the comment, Mr. Treadwell. Later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on June 30, 2011:
I just found a message saying the 1975 version of T&J is 100 times worse than the Gene Deitch one. Then I said to myself "Baloney!" I think it's the other way around.
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on April 23, 2011:
Tom and Jerry didn't fail when they talked.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 06, 2011:
I remember the little duck as being very cute. As for comedic ducks, I'll take Daffy Duck, thank you very much. Gotta love Donald too. Later!
LaZeric Freeman from Hammond on March 06, 2011:
You forget about a version that ran on CBS in the late 80s/early 90s. Not as great when I think about it. But since it's never been rerun can't really compare it. However, the most recent series, "Tom and Jerry Tales" was enjoyable to myself and my kids. Though nothing beats the MGM episodes with the duck ... I love that duck: "If my nice mama wants a duck dinner, my nice mama's gonna get a duck dinner!"
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on March 05, 2011:
It's called the Tom and Jerry show.
Norah on February 23, 2011:
Tom & Jerry forever!!! :) This cartoon rules.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on February 07, 2011:
Mr. Treadwell, what's the name of that cartoon from 1970? I want to check it out on YouTube and see if it's as cute as you say it is. Cool? Later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on February 07, 2011:
I have more than one reason for liking the 1970 version of T&J best. It's the cutest version, the most unusual one, the one w/ the best music & it has the best theme song of any cartoon I ever heard. Mostly, though, I like it best because it's the least one-sided.
Seth on February 05, 2011:
ROFL,LOL,Oh Jesus,my God,HAHAHAHAAAAA XD XD XD XD XD :D :D :D I fell off my chair while watching those.... LAUGHING MY HEAD OFF)))))))) Tom and Jerry is really the best cartoon series ever,couldn't agree more!!!!! Joseph Barberra,William Hanna and Chuck Jones are just GENIUSES. Thank you for uploading some exhilarating and hilarious,timeless videos :))))
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on January 29, 2011:
Tom & Jerry cartoons also have better music than Tweety & Sylvester.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on November 29, 2010:
I also like Tweety and Sylvester, mainly because Sylvester has a funny, engaging personality. Yet I agree that Tom and Jerry is better - the best, that is. Thanks for the comment. Later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on November 29, 2010:
I found a comment on google from some guy saying he likes Tweety & Sylvester better than T&J because he thinks T&J's a little boring. If he thinks T&J's a little boring I would think he'd consider T&S very boring! It's much more repetitive & predictable, though not as much so as Road Runner. T&j's also a lot cuter & a lot more original than T&S.
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on September 27, 2010:
Tom is so totally better than Sylvester!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on August 28, 2010:
All of the Tom and Jerry cartoons were good, though some were GREAT. Thanks for your comments, Mr. Treadwell. later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on August 28, 2010:
I've also found a message saying the main problem w/ the 1975 Tom & Jerry's is that they weren't that funny. I don't think that's a problem at all. Those cartoons are so cute they don't have to be funny.
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on July 29, 2010:
I found a message on google this morning that said the 1975 version of T&J is totally boring & the T&J Comedy Show is better. I disagree w/ both statements. The 1975 T&J's are anything but boring & they're way better than the Comedy Show.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on July 06, 2010:
Thank you very much for your comments, Stephen Rhodes Treadwell, I like the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons the best, with the ones by Chuck Jones next in line. Later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on July 06, 2010:
The Chuck Jones ones are very good; much better than the Gene Deitch ones or even the Tom & Jerry Comedy Show.
Stephen Treadwell on July 05, 2010:
The Gene Deitch ones may be the worst but they're still better than Road Runner & probably better than Tweety & Sylvester too.
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 15, 2010:
Splitty Booms (cool moniker), I'm glad somebody else likes "Pecos Pest," one of the all-time best cartoons. And thank you very much for the comment, Loveofnight (another great moniker.) Later!
Splitty Booms from Arizona on May 15, 2010:
Nice nice nice! I love these guys so much! The less than desirable years that you mention with Deitch...yeah, I even endured those. Tom and Jerry cartoons just gave me a sense of peace and coziness. And I haven't seen such fluid and awesome animation anywhere else. I still laugh so hard that tears come sometimes...and Pecos Pest is my ALL TIME FAVORITE! "Froggy went-a courtin and-a-he did ride, c-c--c-c-crambone!!!..."You know dern well I can't play wit'out a git'tar string!!!" lol Thanks for this!
Loveofnigjht Anderson from Baltimore, Maryland on May 14, 2010:
when i see these guys i think of childhood, these guys have been around forever......thx 4 share
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on May 10, 2010:
Thanks, Stephen Rhodes Treadwell, I'm glad you're such a tremendous fan of Tom and Jerry. Later!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on May 10, 2010:
I especially like the version where they're friends, mostly because Tom doesn't have as much bad luck in that version. Besides they're cuter than the original ones, although the original version of T&J is very cute. Those T&J's fascinate me very much!
Stephen Rhodes Treadwell on April 05, 2010:
Tom and Jerry is my favorite cartoon! It's way better than Road Runner or Tweety and Sylvester!
Kelley Marks (author) from Sacramento, California on March 31, 2010:
I agree with you, Mamelody. Tom and Jerry is definitely the best of all time. I'm not sure I've seen "Life with Tom," so I'll look for it. Later!
Mamelody on March 30, 2010:
I've been a fan of Tom and Jerry even before I was born. I love these guys and I can watch them over and over. I have all episodes that have ever been made! My favorite one is the one titled "Life with Tom" absolutely hilarious! Indeed this is the best cartoon ever!! Nice hub xx
lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on March 29, 2010:
Brought back memories of Saturday afternoon matinees at the local theatre. Thanks.
Michael Shane from Gadsden, Alabama on March 28, 2010:
Yep, that was a great show!
earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on March 28, 2010:
Fantastic! I loved these early series. Thanks for a great hub.