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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. 

  The Everett Collection

They were originally named Jasper and Jinx.

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.

  The Everett Collection

There was later a contest to name the characters.

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. 

  The Everett Collection

They were named after a cocktail.

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.

  The Everett Collection

They won seven Oscars.

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.

  The Everett Collection

They were in a live-action Gene Kelly movie.

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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