Animation History
September 5, 2023 posted by Jerry Beck

Let’s Talk Terrytoons: Why We Don’t See Them Anymore

I’ve been getting more and more text messages and emails these days from longtime readers, as well as students and younger fans – intrigued by all the classic cartoons (from Warner Bros., MGM, Paramount, Columbia, Universal, etc) now showing on MeTV – asking me about the status of the classic “Terrytoon” cartoons.

Where are they? What’s going on? What am I doing about getting them on blu-ray… or even getting them back on some form of television (Streaming? Cable? Broadcast sub-channels?? etc.).

Lord knows I’ve tried.

I decided to do myself a favor and write this post so I can simply send those inquiries this link – and perhaps open the conversation to all in support of preserving a part of an animation’s rich history.

“Rich History?” Terrytoons?

Like them or not – they were part of the larger picture of our favorite medium. Paul Terry was a true pioneer – and his long unseen silent era Aesop’s Fables are more entertaining than many today may realize.

But, this post is essentially about the sound-era Terrytoons library (1930 through the late 1960s). Those of us who grew up in the 1950s, 60s and 70s recall them forever being rerun on CBS, in syndication, and forever present in those little Kiddie projection booths at Shopping Malls and in Department Stores.

Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Deputy Dawg, Tom Terrific, Gandy Goose, Clint Clobber, Mighty Heroes, and – God-forbid – Luno….. They were everywhere. And yeah, they have a bad reputation as the cheapest cartoons ever released to theaters.

In 1987, a whole group of my animator friends had hooked up with Ralph Bakshi and were developing projects – most of which never came to fruition. This is when Ralph sold CBS on reviving Mighty Mouse for Saturday morning. This new Mighty Mouse (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures) was a success – a test of sorts for the young team (which included John Kricfalusi, Bruce Timm, Andrew Stanton, Rich Moore, Mike Kazaleh and many more) that allowed the return of the “unit system”, and permitted for hand drawn layouts with extreme poses, where going off-model was not only allowed but encouraged.

From here I picked up the notion that ANY vintage characters (especially unpopular or less beloved ones) could be revived and rebooted successfully – if you consciously plan to do it well and aim to be truly funny. Sounds obvious… but many reboots before this – think the Filmation Tom & Jerry or DePatie-Freleng’s What’s New Mr. Magoo – were poorly thought out revivals.

After the Bakshi series – which barely scratched the surface in terms of reviving the Terrytoon characters – the Terrytoon library itself could only be seen on the USA Network. USA exclusively licensed them for a ten year period (1985-1995), where they could mainly be found as part of an omnibus series Cartoon Express (which essentially ran only the Mighty Mouse theatricals and the Deputy Dawg shorts).

In 1994 I was interviewed for a brand new position with Nickelodeon – VP of Animation for Nickelodeon Movies. Knowing that Nick was part of Viacom, I brought on my interview the very cool 1950s Deitch era Terrytoon one-sheet (at right). Part of my pitch for getting hired was displaying my knowledge of the company’s animation history, explaining I knew that the company had valuable “classic” IP that could be developed into new films.

It worked. I got the job. And some of the projects we immediately put into development included new takes on Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle and a faithful revival of Tom Terrific (no need to improve upon perfection). I tried to get the Terrytoon cartoon library back on Nickelodeon. I urged my friends at Nick at Nite to run the old CBS Cartoon Theater episodes on primetime (considering Dick Van Dyke was given the honorary Chairman Of The Network title at that time). Makes perfect sense, right? No dice.

It took three years – my entire contractual term – to clear the legal hurdles to allow us to green light a pilot or get funds to hire more talent. But that clearance did come through within months of my leaving the company in 1997. Mary Harrington was assigned to develop Terrytoons after I left. Long-story-short she hired Robert Taylor (Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat, Rock Odyssey) to oversee a pilot film (titled Curbside – it never aired… I recommend you don’t watch it). The less said about that, the better.

In 1995 I put Mighty Mouse into active development for a feature film… and as far as I know, the company has kept Mighty Mouse “in development” status for the past 27 years. It’s still officially “in development” today.

Throughout the years, I used my many contacts to try various ways to revive the characters, or unlock the vault to reissue the 900+ Terrytoon library. Here are just a few of my efforts over the last 25 years.

One of the covers for several “pitch packets” I created over the years

In 1999, I worked with Abby Terkule on developing Heckle & Jeckle for MTV Animation. Abby left the company before the development was complete.

In 2004, I pitched Tom Terrific (with SpongeBob’s Tom Kenny as a creative partner). No-go. I came back with a pitch for Sidney The Elephant. After a year of developing the pitch, I was told they would green light the pilot if I changed the character (to anything but “Sidney”). I changed the elephant to a rhinoceros and made a pilot called “Hornswiggle”.

2009 I pitched CBS Home Video – first on the idea of doing a set of Terrytoon classics (in the style of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection). That morphed into the idea of doing a DVD set of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. I was further involved with putting together the bonus documentary – and was allowed to select a few older Terrytoons to add to the bonus material. The restored-from-the-original-negative He Dood It Again shows you what the library would look like if we could restore it all.

In 2015, I pitched the idea of a new development track: “Nickelodeon Classics”. The idea would be to have a dedicated department that would lead development of rebooting classic 1990s Nick shows – as well as any characters and IP Paramount/Viacom/MTV/Nickelodeon/CBS owned the rights to. Honey Halfwitch anyone? This idea didn’t sell… but as consolation they hired me to work for a year on this book (a book that was published – but was ultimately never sold to the public).

I’ve practically made a career of trying to revive Terrytoons – every time I walked into Viacom/Paramount I’d walk away with a new job. Not the one I was pitching, mind you – but some sort of book, video or pilot project.

Around this same time I tried another idea – If I can’t get Paramount/Viacom/CBS to restore their library – maybe I could do it myself. In my role as VP (and for six-years President ) of Asifa-Hollywood, we reignited a dormant animation preservation established over 20 years ago. During the last five years, I was able to allocate funds to preserve three 1930s Terrytoons (with the UCLA Film Archive) – including their first release – Caviar.

I have had meetings with CBS and Paramount Home Video (two separate departments), I have spoken to Viacom and CBS Consumer Products, I have had meetings in recent years with the current heads of all the departments within the company that have any connection to producing animated series or features. I have not given up.

Part of my most recent pitch package – Art by Zack Heffelfinger

For now, the bottom line is this: the Paramount/Viacom/CBS conglomerate sees no financial incentive to reviving the Terrytoon library. There is no one there with an open mind to even try. It doesn’t matter how much we might love these characters or the films – to the company they are simply old children’s fodder – deader than the animated theatricals from the 1960s by Seymour Kneitel, Howard Post and Shamus Culhane – or a one-season Saturday morning series like The Oddball Couple (1975).


So that’s Terrytoons. Much of the above also applies my efforts to retrieve the 1950s Harveytoons, the 1940s Famous Studio Noveltoons and Little Lulu’s; the Columbia Screen Gems library of Scrappy, Krazy Kat, Fox & Crow and Color Rhapsodies; The UPA theatrical shorts (Magoo, etc); the UPA “Boing Boing Show”; Paramount’s 1960s shorts… among many others. My stories to push these forward will be told in a future “things I promised not to tell” postings. Stay tuned.

60 Comments

  • 1) Ironically the first cartoons to be officially released in Australia were some Terrytoon compilations by Magnetic Video in 1980 (along with a selection of 20th Century product)

    2) Terrytoons cartoons aired on Australian pay TV in 1996 as fill in for one hour shows (those magic days before paid ads)

    3) These days of superhero movie overdrive, Warner Brothers has DC and Disney has Marvel.
    Paramount has virtually nothing – except Mighty Mouse.
    Tad Stones has said he is baffled that Disney currently has no interest in Darkwing Duck. Ditto Paramount for us.

    4) The Oddball Couple complete series was released on DVD by CBS Home Entertainment in December 2017.
    If that is your definition is dead, there is a lot of hope for Terrytoon’s future!

    • You are right about The Oddball Couple – point taken! I picked a bad example – but you get the idea I was going for. I tried to select a cartoon Paramount/CBS/Viacom owns and had long forgotten (maybe I should have selected something like Q.T. Hush).

      • Don’t Give up, Jerry! I’m sure Paramount may listen to you somehow!

  • Well, I can add nothing more to your comments except that it’s a real crying shame that these cartoons can’t be liberated. Yes, I remember the days when they were so often broadcast and syndication that some of us got sick of them, but there were titles that I loved. I wish I could remember the actual titles, but I can remember so many heckle and Jeckle cartoons, and fondly! The same goes for Gandy goose and sourpuss, a series that I don’t think many people have seen in its entirety. I haven’t seen all of them in their entirety, but I thought the ones I did see were inventive. I wish it was something that we animation fans could do to stir up interest in these cartoons again.

  • Normally there are few things that make me happier than a Terrytoons post on Cartoon Research, but this is a very sad one. Like many animation aficionados, I had long disparaged the Terry output as inferior to that of Disney, Fleischer, Warner Bros., MGM, and — well, everybody. I spent much of 2020 reacquainting myself with the Terrytoons, now that most of them have been uploaded to YouTube, and I found myself enjoying them very much. I think the studio’s history, personnel and, above all, its cartoons are worthy of further scholarly attention, and I’m heartened to learn that students and young fans are taking an interest in them.

    I hope that someday the people responsible for the Terrytoons will appreciate the treasure they’re sitting on, and that all your efforts will ultimately bear fruit. You, Jerry, are one of the Mighty Heroes.

  • People who see Golden Age cartoons as children’s fodder clearly don’t know what they’re talking about (especially since racial stereotypes were very common).

    • Not just that, the Hays Code that rendered the concept of kids films and adult films as non-existent (at least until 1968 officially) was in place when these cartoons were released, so people who say that the Terrytoons were originally intended as ‘kid fodder’ are also factually incorrect, and I say this as someone who enjoys lots of cartoons ACTUALLY made for ‘kids’ from Powerpuff Girls to The Ghost and Molly McGee (moreso than most ‘adult’ cartoons frankly, but that’s a whole other topic).

      Are they more kid-friendly than say WB’s output? Perhaps, but the Terrytoons output was still intended to be screened before whatever movie 20th Century Fox had in store like Whirlpool and Niagara. This is a fact that also makes the Casper and Screen Song cartoons at Paramount painful to think about, knowing they were screened with movies like Sunset Boulevard and The War of the Worlds (1953).

  • Your efforts are truly appreciated. Your frustration is warranted. The companies that own old TV series squeeze the last dollar out of them by airing them on channels like MeTV, Antenna TV, etc. ( in between the ads for medicine and Medicare ). Why not air the Terrytoons in this manner and get something in return rather than having them waste away in a vault.

  • Jerry:

    Thanks so much for this update on your many years of effort to spring the the Terrytoons library and its beloved characters from limbo.

    Paul Groh is correct — you are indeed a Mighty Hero.

  • I bought the New Adventures Box Set a few years ago; for all its considerable merits (which it has, even though to me it often feels like sharing a room with a bunch of people telling an in-joke I don’t get), the two 1940s cartoons on the set blew it away. You just can’t beat Golden Age Animation for me, even from a lesser studio

  • Do you know who was involved in getting UPA and Paramount cartoons shown on Nickelodeon’s Weinerville program, since that would seem to predate your tenure there?

    • That was either negotiated by Gerry Laybourne herself, or her second in command at the time Herb Scannell. Clearly they used whatever Viacom/Paramount had the rights to… like Alvin and the dormant Paramount theatricals… and picked up additional UPA material from Columbia.

  • Thanks for all of your efforts, Jerry. As I kid that bought some of the Terrytoon Super8 reels from Willoughby’s in NYC in the 70s, I would personally love to see these on physical media, but I understand all of the resistance you’re going up against.

  • I assume the post Ren and Stimpy Spumco Mighty Mouse material that is out there is related to the 1994+ Mighty Mouse “in development” period. We’re there other studios pitching ideas on that, or was it just Spumco?

    • Yes, a few studios were invited to pitch. I have the Klasky Csupo Terrytoons pitch bible that I may share some day – it makes “Curbside” look like a work of art (and I don’t mean Art Bartsch)!

  • Considering paramount is in financial trouble, you would think that characters like this might generate millions for them in liscensing money for toys, etc would be a no brainer..obvious the suits have no brains..

  • Thanks for carrying the torch, Jerry!

    T-Toons might well have been the cheapest ever made, but many talented, caring animation pros found ways to make lemonade from lemons back then.

    It’s certainly all about money. I’d speculate that even the more robust Warner video sales fall short of some executive’s vision of a proper ROI (“Can’t buy my 20th vacation home in France by selling Terrytoons”).

    I wonder if a single-disc home video release of Terrytoons spotlighting Jim Tyer’s wildest work might be the thing to jump-start more general interest in the classics from that studio. Stranger things have happened.

    Dingbat for President!

  • Find it funny you mention Filmation’s Tom & Jerry, but not their own Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle (also on CBS) the year before. (I know that would obviously be in the same category as those other contemporary examples you gave, but to me it was more “sanitized” with its silliness, as I hated seeing Mighty Mouse always effortlessly beating up on cats, and the magpies harassing hapless dumb characters. It was syndicated the year before Tom & Jerry was, and the latter, which was all new to me, I found a relief, because it was more “fair” in that the cat could win sometimes, and the mouse wasn’t always innocent).

  • Jerry, your efforts are deeply appreciated. I’m 63, and would love to see a blu-ray with classic Heckle & Jeckle and Mighty Mouse cartoons…and my childhood was full of great memories of Deputy Dawg! Perhaps, if enough of us fans respond, CBS/Paramount would rethink allowing you to get them restored! Is there an email or snail mail address that we could write to and beg?

  • In 2019, according to Deadline, Jon & Erich Hoeber are To Script ‘Mighty Mouse’ For Paramount Animation.

    Not sure how that’s proceeding.

    https://deadline.com/2019/04/mighty-mouse-movie-paramount-animation-jon-hoeber-erich-hoeber-writing-meg-1202592891/

  • You would think in an era where Hollywood is (dangerously) obsessed with revivals and reboots that this would’ve been an easy sell. Even now, Nickelodeon has been reviving several shows that were once mainstays on Saturday morning TV (Ninja Turtles, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Smurfs, and Garfield).

  • Terrytoons (40s-60s) were a big part of my early exposure to classic cartoon animation. I was still seeing them syndicated daily on local TV as late as 84-85, mingled or broadcast adjacent to a lot of old AAP stuff (Popeye, Casper, etc) and some other Harveytoons. I always LOL at your aversion to Luno. I won’t say I loved those, but they at least caught my young attention.

    MMTNA I watched in it’s original Saturday morning run, and I never entirely warmed to it. The “weirdness” was somewhat appealing, but the off-model stuff… so I like the Tex Avery approach (or Walter Lantz sometimes maybe), where it is used for contrast in extreme or funny takes. Unpopular opinion maybe, but in MMTNA (and other similar/related material since) going off-model just felt like an excuse to be half sloppy all the time. I know it’s a deliberate style, but I found it off-putting as a kid accustomed to classic animation and fairly straight-laced H-B stuff. No accounting for taste I guess.

  • I always had a fascination with Terrytoons, probably at least in part because, to an animation-history-obsessed kid growing up in the ’80s, they were among the hardest theatrical-era cartoons to catch. One show this article doesn’t mention was a syndication package, “Mighty Mouse and Friends,” that was briefly available to unaffiliated stations in 1990 and 1991. This was where I was finally able to see a good chunk of Terrytoons from all eras of the studio, and I was hooked.

  • In one way, yes. It’s a bummer that these TerryToons have not gotten the proper restorations and preservation needed. However, there are slithers of hope here and there, like how some of the Fleischer library is FINALLY getting restored (Color Classics for example) and how some of the Screen Gems cartoons are able to be aired on TV again, it makes me wonder if the same thing could happen to the TerryToons, though that might be in the far future.

  • While we’re on the subject, I don’t know if you had any participation in MeTV’s recent acquisition of the Lantz library, but if so, I’d like to express my gratitude. This was a major coup for classic cartoon aficionados as far as I’m concerned. I was especially pleased that the studio’s one-shots are receiving equal airtime as the character-driven shorts. Hadn’t seen many of these cartoons in almost forty-five years. Again, thank you.

  • Speaking strictly for myself, as a history/preservation fan, I applaud your long-running efforts in this vein.

  • Has anyone pursued merchandising Terrytoons characters (or for that matter, pre-UPA Columbia characters)? I suppose it’s too late for comic books, which kept many other animated properties alive as theatricals faded away. But all manner of Betty Boop gewgaws kept her recognizable when the actual cartoons were hard to see anywhere.

  • Stan Lee’s POW studio hired me to design a new “modern” Mighty Mouse and I did one in my CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW! style, only to be told that Stan wanted a design that looked more like an anime character. I hadn’t even started on that one when I got a call that the project was cancelled.

  • The Terrytoons cartoons had already left the airwaves by the time I was born, so I tend to think of them differently compared to someone who saw them when they were still being run on TV, or especially when they were being released to theaters. When compared to the artistic golden age of the early Disney features, the sardonic wit of the Fleischer cartoons at their peak, the high-energy gag comedies being put out by Warner Bros. and MGM, or even the stylistic innovations of UPA (especially under John Hubley), the contemporary critics couldn’t help but see the Terrytoons (Gene Deitch era aside) as anything but retrograde by comparison. Even during the TV era, their shorts wouldn’t hold up in the ratings as well as the likes of Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. But decades later, when literally all the cartoons mentioned above are well over half a century old and none of that really matters as such, it’s easier to see them as the pure entertainment cartoons they are, even if one isn’t even a fan of them.

    I’ve always wondered why, if they see them with that much disinterest, why Paramount and its predecessors have never actually thought of selling them to someone who’d be more interested. That’s what Disney did when they lost interest in DiC and the Power Rangers; I guess some companies just operate differently when it comes to IP they’re sitting on.

    • The sad truth about the reason Disney sold DiC and PR (and Bobby’s World for that matter) was that the reason Disney DID give those up was because someone made them an offer. Andy Heyward and Haim Saban (and Howie Mandel for Bobby’s World) made an offer to Disney to buy back their stuff, and Disney accepted. Someone has to make the first move, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be the folks who currently run Disney (who I will restrain from airing my grievances with). Nobody being crazy (and rich) enough to make an offer for the more neglected things in their library like the rest of the Saban/Fox Kids library (that doesn’t star mutants in spandex) is why they’re left to rot. Anyone here mad and rich enough to buy the Terrytoons from Paramount? (Or the Fox Kids stuff for that matter)
      As a side note, honestly, I wouldn’t say Disney lost interest in DiC; unless that rumor about Disney destroying a large amount of their cels and stuff is true, Disney treated DiC rather well. They kept DiC alive, (something you can’t say for Blue Sky), they made two Gadget movies and ran even their crummiest stuff like Wish Kid on Toon Disney.

  • Omg, I haven’t thought of those kiddie projector booths in YEARS! They were mostly TerryToons, weren’t they? What a great memory!

  • I’m sorry to hear about what has happened to Terrytoons, Jerry. Thanks for what you’ve done.

  • A few years ago, there was this absolutely pristine copy of The Mysterious Package, a 1960 MM cartoon, circulating. What is the origin of that?

    • That was one of the three I selected for restoration – the three included as bonus features on the Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures DVD set. The Mysterious Package was selected because it was one of the few to give screen credit to Ralph Bakshi as an animator – I thought that would be appropriate on this set. The other two I selected were He Dood It Again (a “Super Mouse” cartoon) and Gypsy Life (the only Mighty Mouse cartoon nominated for an Oscar).

      • From what I have heard. Ralph also got an animation credit on Outer Space Visitor, Mighty’s first film back from his retirement.

  • To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe… If the issue from Paramount’s perspective is the cost, would they be more willing to make these available if an outside company handled and funded the heavy lifting, like Thunderbean? The only cost I can think of would be the cost of transfering the materials, which I ASSUME wouldn’t be that big of a deal for them. They seem to be willing to do that, if the recent restorations of the Fleischer cartoons are anything to go off of (BTW, thanks for explaining that situation on a previous post, Jerry), but the ordeal with CBS not giving the Jack Benny Fanclub access to PD Benny episodes they had (despite them offering to pay for it themselves and getting permission from Benny’s estate) for the absurd reason of “rights management” back in 2009 does make me question that.
    At the very least, (and I can hear some people groaning at the mere suggestion of this) couldn’t Paramount at least put out a release using the TV prints of both the 60s Paramounts and Terrytoons that they ran in the 90s? It might not be too pretty, but it would be a stepup from the VHS dubs we have now, and I’m SURE they were more than willing to do that for stuff like Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (which in CBS/Paramount’s opinion is apparently more worthy of a DVD release)

  • It really does seem odd that Viacom/CBS/et al wouldn’t bother releasing Terrytoons onto streaming services – after all, it’d pretty much be a quick and easy way to bolster their libraries. The massive YT channel with a good amount of the shorts racks in a million or two views on some of the better material, so it’s not like audiences wouldn’t be interested.

    Perhaps we can try and get Mighty Mouse or Heckle & Jeckle as guest stars in Nickelodeon’s All Star Brawl video game, since the developers have shown they can respect the source materials while having the characters beat each other senseless? There’s a sequel to that game coming soon; if the developers needed ideas, they’d probably get some mileage out of 70+ year old characters going toe-to-toe with Nick’s ’90s icons.

    • I always felt Pluto TV would’vd been a good home for Terrytoons had they thought to create a channel for their pre-90’s catalog of animation.

  • I wonder if CBS would greenlight it if a network such as MeTV requested these specifically and put up the funds to digitize the films? I know they have done this for a few live action shows in the past….

  • Yeah, it’s really too bad that Paramount/CBS/Viacom (whatever the damn hell it’s called now) doesn’t see the value in these old cartoons. Yeah, they’re not the best, but they are still an important part of animation history. At least you tried your best Jerry – I don’t know if I would’ve had the same persistance as you. Well at least on the upside, Paramount is doing some restoration work on their Fleischer library… so it’s not completely hopeless.

    Honestly, I would’ve bought the crap out of “a set of Terrytoon classics (in the style of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection)”. I wonder what that would’ve looked like and what cartoons you would’ve included.

    One question though, you said that this also applies to many other things including “The UPA theatrical shorts (Magoo, etc.)”… correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought you were able to get all the UPA theatrical cartoons out on DVD? I have both the TCM Jolly Frolics Collection and the Mr. Magoo Theatrical set from Shout Factory.

  • I wish you good luck Jerry and I hope that you can convince the heads of Paramount to revive Terrytoons again someday. I also hope to work on it someday!

  • It is wonderful that you have put so much effort into trying to get Terrytoons out and back into the public consciousness. I think future prospects for the shorts will continue to be kind of bleak on account of the fact that it has been almost thirty years since the shorts have regularly been seen on anything resembling terrestrial TV and a lot of the decision makers at the networks, studios, etc are young enough that they didn’t live in the era before the Fairness Doctorine was ended much less the era when you could easily see short cartoons in the mornings and afternoons on TV everyday.

    I have always wondered when these projects get greenlit why don’t the shorts get immediately get slotted on TV to increase awareness of the product to prep the audience for future. If I am Viacom, I would just get someone to digitize what we have and can distribute and publish them on FAST services like Tubi and Pluto. How much could it possibly cost? I’m not even talking about restorations or upscaling. Digitize the old tape masters that were used in the past to syndicate the show and be done with it. If interest is there for more, invest in remastering or restoration. If it benefits the product hire a Rich Koz or Bill Leff-type to be the Terrytoons show curator or sommelier whatever you want that role to be to present the product to modern audiences.

    You mentioned, Honey Halfwitch from Famous Studios. Those shorts aren’t great, but that is a character who could have been (or simply could be) carefully retooled into a pretty strong modern product. A little girl who is half-witch and half-human? It basically could be another Disney’s The Owl House with crazy magic malfunctions, school yard drama, and an overarching story about where and who her parents are. If it were the 90s, you could cram in some kind of rock band gimmick into some episodes to sell kids songs.

    I think Mighty Mouse could be funny if he joins a human super hero team and had to contend with the fact that his agenda and the humans’ agenda are not the same and how that causes weird things to happen. One easy story would be, “What if the TikTok generation gets mad because MM is beating up so many cute influencer cats?” The concept seems ripe for a reboot no matter the approach that is taken with it.

    Imagine a Hashimoto reboot written by a larger team of Japanese and other Asian Americans writing about the struggles of living in modern America (instead of Japan).

  • Thanks for the efforts, Mr. Beck! I actually caught a few Terrytoons, with what looked to be the original opening titles, a couple of months ago on a streaming app called “Kid Central” which appears to be a “sub-channel” of SimulTV. They primarily run “Pokemon” and lots of “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends”. H&J and Mighty Mouse looked good, but I think “The Mighty Heroes” was from that 80s VHS (tracking lines). A month before I tuned in around two in the morning and saw the Columbia UPA cartoons.

  • Being a person who’s a fan of Bakshi’s take on Mighty Mouse (what a mouse!) this seems like a right time to wonder about the show’s compilation episodes; The DVD versions for those showed scenes of shorts like Flebus being shown in really pristine quality. Wonder if the entire shorts themselves were restored for use on the episode restorations, or if only the scenes themselves were restored (which seems like not the right move).

    I do know that restorations of the syndication prints of Heckle and Jeckle (the ones that have that blue background with the abstract shapes plastering the original title cards) were made and aired…in Brazil only on Globo in the 2000s (if i’m correct).

  • I sadly have nothing to add in terms of ideas about how to bring Terrytoons back into circulation, but I will add my voice to the chorus of thanks for your efforts, Mr. Beck.

    If it weren’t for the fact that it would probably put a good program (one of the few) like the Warner Archive Program at risk, I wish these conglomerates would be broken up and the historic libraries sold off to organizations willing to make a public commitment to making them available.

  • One thing that nobody has mentioned is that Terrytoons is basically the story of two animators with disparate styles. Elegant movement and sexy dancing were the stock in trade of Carlo Vinci. And anything the least little bit off center? Jim Tyer. You could have an instant paradigm shift from one scene to the next and the directors – Bill Tytla, Connie Rasinski, Mannie Davis and Ed Donnelly – tolerated the lack of transition.

  • Thanks Jerry. Maybe one day the originals might be shown to a new generation. However, I believe a reboot is not needed. I believed in you what you said to be true. The reason why she of those classic cartoons can’t be replicated was due to the fact that, the right people at the right time got to work on them. Times change and people leave. Let the classics remain what they are. No more reboots.

  • This is why bootlegging thrives: the copyright holders are sitting on the merchandise rather than putting out reasonably priced restorations (which Thunderbean would be only too happy to create, I bet). Of course it doesn’t help that in the 1950s the studios sold the cartoons outright to now-long-nonexistent TV distributors for a quick buck rather than lease them out–and incidentally make more money in the long run–so that who owns what becomes even murkier. They all deserve a good ducking in the town pond, accompanied by the famous Terrytoons splash sound effect: tchoik.

    The other issue is that the market for these animated also-rans is perceived as, shall we say, limited. Children brought up on CGI can’t be expected to know what to make of them. I’m just grateful to have been of the generation where they appeared regularly on TV, if only as filler; Generation X, who got them in the glory days of cable where they were used in much the same way (before the networks began creating original content), are almost as lucky in that regard.

    • I’m happy to be in the X group when I had seen Terrytoons on regular TV 40 years ago.

  • About 1977 was when I first saw Super8 Terrrytoons for sale by Viacom. I thought it was a great idea, and did research on the company. Too bad I didn’t purchase a load of their stock and hold onto it until I retired. The stock did well. I noticed that the company didn’t do much with their cartoons over the decades, and I couldn’t think of a way to prod Viacom. I am glad that you have been working on getting Terrytoons released for viewing. The comments here indicate that a lot of us feel that it would be a good idea for the CBS Paramount group to get these little motion pictures in front of our eyes again.

  • Jerry Beck, as always your tireless efforts on behalf of that holy grail that is Terrytoons is VERY MUCH appreciated. I still watch as many of them on YouTube as I can, reliving fond childhood memories of Mighty Mouse, Deputy Dawg, Hector Heathcoat, Sidney, Possible Possum, Good Deed Daily, The Astronut and all the rest. Jim Tyer, Ralph Bakshi, and Gene Deitch are three of my animation heroes. I’d love to some day see not only DVD releases but books, stuffed characters and other Terrytoons merch. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  • Wow!…For a studio whose perceived reputation is usually well down the list amongst animation buffs, the response to this post is staggering!…Always had a soft spot for the more operatic MM and H&J, but remember seeing Hector, Sidney, etc in the drive ins quite a lot….. And of course Deputy Dawg seemed to be everywhere on TV for years… I suppose that with eventual copyright lapses, some of this might reappear online, because,,frankly, I can’t see anyone spending the money to tie up rights for years, ala Disney, for things that aren’t turning a profit, ironically due to their own inaction….

  • Thank you Jerry for your efforts! Frustrated that these aren’t getting released too. Always felt surely there were enough fans of at least Mighty Mouse, Hector & Jeckle, and Deputy Dawg that it would be worth it to the rights holders. Evidently not. To me, happiness is going to YouTube and finding in my recommendations a Terrytoons I haven’t seen.

  • Thanks for your continued great work, Jerry. As a kid, I loved Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Sick Sick Sidney and Tom Terrific.

  • There was a time when, if you’d told me that Terrytoons would be impossible to find on broadcast TV, I’d’ve thought you were nuts. They were just always there. A local station had an hour of them at 7 a.m. every morning for, oh, it seemed like years.

    I wish now I’d paid more attention to them. If it was a Heckle and Jeckle I’d stop and watch, but otherwise they were mostly just background noise.

    Maybe we classic cartoon fans are part of the problem. Most discussions of Terrytoons don’t stray too far from talking about what’s wrong with them. All that negativity can’t be doing much to encourage the owners of these shorts to do anything with them.

    A friend of mine, who works in television, told me that somone from Viacom told him, some years back, that one of the reasons Terrytoons are no longer shown is that the transfers currently available are old and not up to the company’s standards, and there’s no financial incentivee to spend the money to restore and remaster them, so — there they sit.

  • Jerry, thanks for yet another fantastic read. Always good to hear the status of the Terrytoons. As someone who grew up watching Mighty Mouse, I can easily say without hesitation that while a reboot would sound neat on paper, but in practice, eh! Not so much.

  • Well, Jerry … I hope you live long enough to see the old Terrytoon cartoons restored and made available. Years ago, I had almost given up on seeing the Fleischer and Famous POPEYE cartoons getting restored, but you persevered and it happened! I’m still hoping that the ’50s POPEYE cartoons will someday be available, but you did get the “classics” out there! So, I applaud you and the others involved for getting that to happen!

    I’d put the Terrytoons in the class of maybe Monorgram or PRC films in the 1940s, but even so, those scrappy little movie studios produced some very entertaining and decent films – just like Terrytoons. I grew up in the ’60s, so I surely remember MIGHTY MOUSE and HECKLE AND JECKLE and the inventive TOM TERRIFIC series as part of one of my favorite “kid shows” – CAPTAIN KANGAROO. So, count me in as somebody who would REALLY like to see good copies of MIGHTY MOUSE and other Terrytoons again!

    “Here I come to save the daaaayyyyyy! Mighty Mouse!”

  • Speaking of Terrytoons, I recently got my hands on Gerald Hamonic’s book about Paul Terry and his studio.

    The Terrytoons corporation was a masterclass on the possibility of making extraordinary profits by selling mediocre products. I’m going to write a review for the book, where I will go to greater length on the unexpectedly philosophical implications of cases like Terrytoons: the pure commercial ability to endure and make extraordinary money from normal, non-innovative products (a salesman’s ability) is as praiseworthy as exceptional products, and is a valid and mostly viable business strategy for people to leave poverty, where the formalistic goal of the too-much-educated person – the desire to “make something extraordinary and innovative” – is less relevant in the face of urgency for money. Moreover, extraordinary ideas ended up flourishing in an environment designed and conditioned to develop mediocre products, showing that there is an involuntary human instinct that leads to improvement. Of course, the company went below “mediocre products” and offered bad working conditions to the point that we can link a suicide of an ex-employee (Jerry Shields) to Terry’s toxic management, I’m not going to defend such practices.

    Gerald Hamonic’s book is the best research on Terrytoons, a solid 5/5 for me. Highly recommended. The book includes a filmography in the end, that includes silent Aesop’s Fables (we know how difficult it is to establish a definitive list of them) and to me seems definitive on listing the regular Terrytoons filmography, except for subtle theatrical release specificities (for instance: we may never know the exact theatrical releases of Deputy Dawg episodes in each Texas theater) and ONE major conflict.

    I have already raised this question on the Intanibase forum and I’m raising this again here, in the hope that any researcher could help. The Hector Heathcote TV package listed in some nostalgia websites, and by Jeff Lenburg’s “Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons”, 3rd edition, 2008, mentions an episode titled “Foxed by a Fox”. According to Lenburg’s book it was directed by Dave Tendlar and released in May 1961.The is a 1955 short directed by Rasinski with the same title. Now I don’t know if this Hector Heathcote short exists or not. The “Hector Heathcote Show” list from Hamonic’s book includes 71 segments: 35 Heathcotes, 17 Hashimotoes, and 19 Sidneys. An additional, 36th Hector Heathcote segment seems very likely, to complete an even-numbered schedule, divisible by 24 and 3, with 36 Heathcotes and 36 non-Heathcotes distributed in 2-segment or 3-segment presentations.

  • Great work. I cannot believe the stupidity involved in not releasing these gems. They may have been cheap but were quite funny. Folks, in the meantime YouTube has many many of these cartoons as of today.One more thing, I detest reboots, they always cheapen the original product. Poor voices, too slick, crazy stuff that should not be there.Case in point the new pink panther series.rant over.

  • Hi ya’ll.. I come by here from time to time just from a love of classic animation and saw this update… Terrytoons are actually my favorite cartoons. From the 30’s to the 60’s I love their entire animation history. I was surprised by how much I liked the often forgotten and much overlooked 30’s stuff.

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