THE CAT IN THE HATOriginal Medium: Children's picture story
First appeared: 1957
Creator: Dr. Seuss
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Dr. Seuss has probably succeeded in more areas of cartooning than anybody else in American history. He's done animation, comics, advertising, editorial cartooning, book illustration and — of course — children's
picture books. And of his many memorable characters — Horton the Elephant, The Grinch, etc. — probably the most memorable, as well as the most successful in a wide variety of media, is The Cat in the Hat.
The book that introduced him, titled, succinctly enough, The Cat in the Hat, was published in 1957 by Random House, and inaugurated a whole new line for that company. "Beginner Books", with Seuss as its editor and The Cat in the Hat as its early mascot, ran for years, with dozens of titles. Aside from more books about the eponymous cat, this imprint is where The Berenstain Bears got their start.
His first animated appearance was on CBS, on March 10, 1971. It was produced by DePatie-Freleng Studios (Super President, The Pink Panther), whose co-owner, Friz Freleng (Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird), had worked with Seuss as far back as the Private Snafu days — as had Chuck Jones (Road Runner, Pepe LePew), who did a portion of the writing on the special. The director was Hawley Pratt, an associate of Freleng and Jones when they all worked for Warner Bros. Voices included Daws Butler (Huckleberry Hound), Thurl Ravenscroft (Tony the Tiger) and, as The Cat in the Hat himself, Allan Sherman, who was famous for a lot of funny popular songs over the years, but who did very little else in animation.
More entertainments in various media followed, including a 1982 crossover with The Grinch and a ride at Universal Studios' theme park. The most prominent of recent years, by far, came on November 8, 2003, when he got the same treatment as Inspector Gadget and George of the Jungle — a live-action, feature-length movie. Mike Myers, whose other major toon connection was the voice of Shrek, played the title role, with at least one other well-known voice talent, Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson), in the cast.
Now well into his third generation of fans, The Cat in the Hat is a media phenomenon that only gets more phenomenal with the passage of time.