|First TV image broadcast!|
Felix holds a unique spot in the invention of television. Wikipedia: "Felix was one of the first images ever broadcast by television when RCA chose a papier-mache Felix doll for a 1928 experiment via W2XBS New York in Van Cortlandt Park. The doll was chosen for its tonal contrast and its ability to withstand the intense lights needed. It was placed on a rotating phonorgaph turntable and photographed for approximately two hours each day. After a one-time payoff to Sullivan, the doll remained on the turntable for nearly a decade as RCA fine-tuned the picture's definition."
The silent Felix the Cat cartoons flooded into TV stations in the early 1950s on 16mm prints along with Edgar Kennedy and Leon Errol shorts, Soundies, B-westerns, syndicated series of live shows on kinescopes and anything else distributors could lease cheaply from defunct studios like Mascot, PRC and Monogram. Outside of the network feeds still in their infancy, 16mm was the only format that local stations could use to expand their daily programming.
In 1953, Official Films purchased the Sullivan-Messmer shorts, added soundtracks to them, and distributed to the home movie and television markets. The films do not seem to have been sitting in some vault well preserved for re-release like at Disney or Warners. More likely Official got whatever they could wherever they could from old exchanges, resulting in a great many Felix titles not being released to TV and many are still lost today.
Many of the vintage Felix the Cats are in the public domain because their copyrights were not renewed or they were never registered in the first place. However, a great many were renewed and are still owned by someone, though I am not sure who. The original © was by Pat Sullivan. Some good cartoons I once had but could not release are Felix Hits the Deck where he gets mixed up with a deck of playing cards come to life, a Halloween themed Felix Switches Witches where he gets chased by a witch who removes her costume at the end to reveal she's a hot number, and Felix in Romeow.
I did put 16 public domain cartoons from this collection into my first VHS exclusive release called Felix the Cat Frolics, Vol. 1 & 2. My VHS box cover is shown above. I do sell one collection of silent Felix today on DVD in my public domain cartoons.
|From "Felix the Cat's Greatest Comic Book|
Tails" by Craig Yoe at Amazon.com
Because the original Felix holds a place in both the invention of TV and in 1950s TV programming, we plan to include one in the upcoming Lost & Rare Primeval Television DVD currently in preparation. We are fortunate to have one that has been lost in its complete form for many years -- Felix in the Bone Age (1922). At least it has not surfaced in any DVD collections to date. IMDB only reviews a 3-minute excerpt: "Felix comes upon a caveman and his girlfriend. The girlfriend is crying, and when the caveman asks her what she wants, she points to Felix. The caveman chases Felix, who escapes by using the tails of some friendly monkeys to make his way down a steep cliff. Later he makes friends with a baby monkey, but winds up getting in a fight with a huge gorilla." Here is a brief clip of The Bone Age that few have ever seen, followed by Comicalamities (1928).
Visit my websites at fesfilms.com and lostandrare.com.