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Felix the Cat and Woodrow Wilson

2020-12-01
cat named “Olive Oyl” at 9:17 (AM or PM?)

Washington Post comments section, my response to a comment about Alexandra Petri’s column on the candidates for “First Cat”– which cited a commenter’s remarks about Woodrow Wilson:

There’s a lot more to that story about Wilson’s final illness (es)… recommend you read up on this.  Fascinating history.  Also check out Wilson’s censorship during the war and attempts to smear “liberals”– oh, and Wilson’s racism (very, very, very serious, usually glossed over, but he set back integration in the Federal government by roughly 55 years.) 

Wilson was a Democrat, old-style, like Strom Thurmond.  He was known as a “progressive” when he was president of Princeton and of the US– but his progressivism was highly selective.  He also defeated third party candidate Teddy Roosevelt (who was officially a “Progressive Party” member) as well as Republican Howard Taft.

Felix the cat must have been a subversive.  He started on film in 1919, the product of Australian Pat Sullivan’s animation studio.  He was mostly drawn by American Otto Messmer, who initially received no credit (as was customary at the time.)  He appeared in a newspaper comic strip starting in 1923. 

He was the subject of jazz bandleader Paul Whiteman’s 1923 “Felix kept on walking” and other tunes.  He appeared as a stuffed animal and on many other merchandise items.  He faded starting with sound films, with Micky Mouse and others replacing him.  He reappeared on TV in 1953, drawn by Joe Oriolo (who had helped with the original Felix), with a “Magic Bag of Tricks.”

Felix was also one of the first images used for experimental television starting in 1928– so ” Felix is considered by some to be the world’s first TV star.” (Wikipedia)

“Aldous Huxley wrote that the Felix shorts proved that “[w]hat the cinema can do better than literature or the spoken drama is to be fantastic.”” (Wikipedia)

I couldn’t find any references to Felix’s political leanings– you should look further.  He did star in a short about the Russian Civil War in 1924– “Felix all puzzled.”

Felix would be good as an independent, and he’s still recognizable at 101 years of age (only a few years older than the president-elect.)

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