5 things you never knew about Tom and Jerry cartoons

Two decades before The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera made animation history with the cat and mouse.

The Everett Collection

We all grew up with Tom and Jerry. No matter what your age might be. The cartoon cat and mouse made their debut over 80 years ago when MGM released the short Puss Gets the Boot in theaters on February 10, 1940. 

The animal adversaries were the creation of young animators Joseph Barbera and William Hanna (originally working alongside Rudolf Ising). 

The wildly popular Tom and Jerry cartoons garnered critical acclaim, as Hanna-Barbera crafted 114 shorts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer up through 1958.

Hanna-Barbera left behind their cat and mouse to pursue their own Hanna-Barbera Productions, which would make television history with the smash primetime series The Flintstones in 1960. Other creators (Gene Deitch, Chuck Jones) would continue to make Tom and Jerry toons, while the superior originals ran in syndication. 


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1. They were originally named Jasper and Jinx.

 The Everett Collection

The cat — then more of a realistic quadruped — chasing the chubby little mouse was dubbed "Jasper" in the debut cartoon, Puss Gets the Boot. The name of the mouse never arises onscreen in the cartoon itself, though he was named "Jinx" in pre-production. That being said, there was some debate over that matter, amongst the creators nonetheless. Hanna certainly considered the mouse to be named Jinx, as mentioned in his memoir A Cast of Friends. Barbera was not so sold.

2. There was later a contest to name the characters.

 The Everett Collection

So how did Tom and Jerry come to be "Tom and Jerry"? A contest, of course! Animator John Carr won $50 (more than $800 in today's cash) for coming up with the monikers Tom and Jerry. 

3. They were named after a cocktail.

 The Everett Collection

So why "Tom and Jerry" you might ask? Well, it was a popular boozy Yuletime drink, essentially eggnog with brandy added in alongside the rum. The drink recipe and name dates back to the 1820s, so it certainly predates the cat and mouse. In the early 19th century, "Tom and Jerry" was a British term for rambunctious youth, as coined in the 1823 book Life in London, or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom by Pierce Egan.

4. They won seven Oscars.

 The Everett Collection

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loved Tom and Jerry just as much as the kids in the audience. In total, 13 Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry cartoons earned an Oscar nomination in the Short Subject, Cartoon category. Eight of them would win a trophy. The Yankee Doodle Mouse took home the duo's first Oscar. Seven shorts in total would win Oscars.


5. They were in a live-action Gene Kelly movie.

 The Everett Collection

The 1945 musical comedy Anchors Aweigh paired dancing icon Gene Kelly with many celebrity partners, but none as fantastical as Jerry Mouse. Kelly and Jerry perform together through the magic of filmmaking in "The Worry Song." Jerry is royalty, while Tom makes a cameo as a servant. Some sources claim that the film originally wanted Mickey Mouse, but Disney declined to lend out their famous rodent.

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57 Comments

Charlotte 1 month ago
I still giggle at the old Tom & Jerry cartoons, they were so funny!
Touche' pussycat!
Bluerabbit2 1 month ago
I remember seeing Jerry as a King dance with Gene Kelly.
braycy 1 month ago
"Dicky Moe" "Ya can't sing without a guitar string!" "Cousin Muscles!" Such good stuff!
BradBeall 1 month ago
Such a shame to see modern cartoons compared to the classics. Classic 'toons were so much more life-like, with flowing motions and beautiful backgrounds. As time went on, the backgrounds became less and less detailed, until some were discontinued altogether, or (mostly in the 1970's) the "rotating scroll" was used for background pictures. Nowadays, the area around a poorly drawn character's mouth is cut out to allow the lower jaw to move up & down when they're speaking... and they call that "animation". Cheap & lazy is the name of the game these days.
Bricat2001 BradBeall 1 month ago
yeah, its sad what the animation industry became today :( i especially hate CGI crap they keep pushing.
Deleted 1 month ago
This comment has been removed.
Kramden62 1 month ago
I remember that. Their hit as Tom and Jerry was "Hey Schoolgirl," on the small Big label in 1958.

I'm not sure how high that single got on the Billboard chart.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
Very interesting facts!

When Tom, Jerry, and Gene share the screen = EPIC!
justjeff Runeshaper 1 month ago
...and when Family Guy re-animated the scene with Stewie it was mind-blowing!
LoveMETV22 justjeff 1 month ago
Was this the one?
justjeff Runeshaper 1 month ago
Oh, Yeah!👍👍👍👍 By the way, the voice of Jerry was supplied by voice actress Sara Berner (the switchboard operator on the old Jack Benny Program)!
Bluerabbit2 LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Yep, that's the one!!!
Runeshaper justjeff 1 month ago
Very cool!
RedSamRackham 23 months ago
* The cowboy mouse with the guitar singing that "Crambo" song in 1 cartoon was voiced by Shug Fisher best remembered as Shorty Kellems on The Beverly Hillbillies! ☺
That episode still cracks me up !
GEMof72 RedSamRackham 17 months ago
One of my favorites! 😂😂😂😂
The funniest gag I loved in that cartoon (#96 of 114 "Pecos Pest", Nov. 11, 1955) was at the end, when uncle pulled his new "guitar string" from one of Tom's whiskers, when performing on tv, right through the tv screen after Tom started laughing at the broken string! An inspired gag from the great Tom and Jerry writers!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNfABTiIzok
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_and_Jerry_filmography#1940–58:_Hanna-Barbera/MGM_Cartoons
Better URL for the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sozkf6bq2LM
CarolinePar 30 months ago
Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone - especially since 2021 was the year Toon in With Me began ❤️
ANW97 36 months ago
The adorable childhood memory. So, I wish Krtek (Mole) will be put on MeTV for mornings to be joined for 8am. But this cartoon is from Czech Republic and Tom and Jerry is from United States.
Toonhead 37 months ago
Gotta say that I knew most of the stuff except for the name game. My dad’s VFW post had a Tom & Jerry Xmas party; kids & toons downstairs, Tom & Jerry punch upstairs and a good time was had by all!
Andy 39 months ago
They were also both featured in the Esther Williams movie, "Dangerous When Wet".
PatrickRsGhost 40 months ago
The worst series of Tom and Jerry cartoons were the ones directed by Gene Deitch. They were very cheaply done, and it showed.
Tim PatrickRsGhost 40 months ago
Easily as bad as the early 60s Warner Bros. cartoons.
moax429 PatrickRsGhost 37 months ago
Some of those Deitch-produced Tom and Jerrys were good.

I especially liked "Calypso Cat," in particular when the steel drum-playing cat on the island woos Toots away from Tom and later uses Tom's head as a steel drum.
RedSamRackham Tim 23 months ago
* Recent "Wabbit" series absolute worst! ♠
The worst 1960s KFS POPEYES came from Gene Deitch Studios also. Poorly drawn. Cheaply animated and Popeye with BOTH eyes open. Worst of the bunch
OldTVfanatic 41 months ago
Tom also sang for Pink Floyd.
If you watch closely on the movie "Pink Floyd: The Wall" during the "Thin Ice" scene, and later during the "Nobody's Home" scene, Pink has the TV tuned to a Tom & Jerry cartoon, "Puttin' on the Dog".
Tom actually sang on Not Now John from the last Waters-era Floyd LP The Final Cut.
bumples 41 months ago
I have the Chuck Jones Collection of Tom & Jerry and although I love the 50's versions, I love the Chuck Jones toons
KorianderBullard 41 months ago
You forgot to add that when they were just starting, Hannah and Barerra worked at Van Buren Studios on a human, black and white Tom and Jerry.
MichaelSkaggs 41 months ago
Tom and Jerry. I look forward to January 4th.
RobertRodriguez 50 months ago
I grew up with Tom-and-jerry love the show love all the cartoons that came out for my time 56 years old and I miss all those cartoons
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