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Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr. is a black and white cat who appears in several Looney Tunes cartoons, often chasing Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzales, or Hippety Hopper. When depicted with an owner he is mainly with Granny, but very early on he would be with Porky Pig.
Personality and Pride
Sylvester shows much pride, and he also never gives up. Despite (or perhaps because of) his pride and persistence, Sylvester was definitely on the "loser" side of the Looney Tunes winner/loser hierarchy. His character is that of Wile E. Coyote, except that ironically Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote as well as Sylvester/Tweety are parodies of Tom and Jerry. In one cartoon Sylvester is pared with Wile E. Coyote while they both try to catch Speedy Gonzales and Road Runner. As usual they both fail. He shows a different character when paired with Porky Pig in explorations of spooky places, in which he doesn't speak, as a scaredy cat. (In these cartoons, he basically plays the terrified Costello to Porky's oblivious Abbott.) Sylvester's most developed role is as a hapless mouse-catching instructor to his dubious son, Sylvester Junior, in which the "mouse" is a powerful baby kangaroo named "Hippety Hopper". His alternately confident and bewildered episodes bring his son to shame, while Sylvester himself is reduced to nervous breakdowns. He is often referred to as a putty tat by Tweety and Senor Gringo Pussygato by Speedy Gonzales. His famous catchphrase is "Sufferin' Succotash" which is said to be a minced saying for "Suffering Misses" (Daffy also says it from time to time).
Sylvester's trademark is his sloppy, yet stridulating lisp. In his autobiography, That's Not All Folks!, voice actor Mel Blanc stated that Sylvester's voice is based on that of Daffy Duck, plus the even more slobbery lispit gets and minus the post-production speed-up that was done with Daffy's. Daffy's lisp, as well as Sylvester's, were based on the lisp of producer Leon Schlesinger. However, Blanc made no such claim. He said that Daffy's lisp was based on him having a long beak, and that he borrowed the voice for Sylvester. He also pointed out that, minus the lisp, Sylvester's voice was fairly close to his own (a claim that his son Noel Blanc has confirmed). In addition, director Bob Clampett, in a 1970 Funnyworld interview, agreed with Blanc's account concerning Schlesinger.
To emphasize the lisp, as with Daffy's catchphrase "You're desthpicable", Sylvester's trademark exclamation is "Sufferin' succotash!", which is said to be a minced oath of "Suffering Savior". (Daffy also says "Sufferin' succotash!" from time to time.)
Friz Freleng-directed episodes
Sylvester first appeared (in a prototypical form) in the 1945 short Life with Feathers, which was directed by Friz Freleng. Although this was his first official appearance, there was a claim that in Notes to You, there was a prototypical version of him.
Sylvester's first official appearance with Tweety was in the 1947 short Tweetie Pie where he tries to eat Tweety but gets punished. In the film-shorts, he usually gets clobbered by Granny or Hector the Bulldog whenever he tries to eat Tweety. Other than Tweety, he also chases Speedy Gonzales, but Speedy would cause a pain for him. He also appears with Elmer J. Fudd in some cartoons. The pair's cartoons lasted from 1947 to 1954, shortly before the closure of the Warner Bros. studio. Sylvester and Tweety became one of the most well-known pairings in Looney Tunes, next to Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Some of their episodes have won or were nominated for Academy Awards.
- Sylvester's name is a pun on silvestris, the scientific name for the wild cat, the ancestor of domestic cats, as well as a rare name for kids (including actor Sylvester Stallone).
- In his early appearances he was unnamed but until then his original name was Thomas in Tweetie Pie, most likely as a reference to Tom and Jerry, with Tom's full name being Thomas.
- Sylvester has "died" the most of any Looney Tunes characters, having "died" in I Taw a Putty Tat, Back Alley Oproar, Peck Up Your Troubles, Satan's Waitin', Mouse Mazurka, Tweety's Circus, Trick or Tweet, and Tweet and Lovely.
- Prior to Sylvester's appearance in the cartoons, Blanc voiced a character of the same name on The Judy Canova Show using the voice that would eventually become associated with the cat.
- Sylvester once had a black nose, but his nose has since always been red like a Conrad's.
- Sylvester could be heard in an episode of the game show Press Your Luck. Host Peter Tomarken had earlier incorrectly credited his catchphrase "Suffering Succotash!" to Daffy Duck. Even though all three contestants had correctly answered "Sylvester", they were ruled incorrect. In a segment produced later and edited into the broadcast, Sylvester phoned Tomarken and told him, "Daffy Duck steals from me all the time." This was a joke because Daffy usually says it.
- In The Looney Tunes Show, Sylvester's appearance has changed in the series. His body is more shorter and slender and his canine teeth are more sharp and prominent making him look more like a housecat.
- "Suffering succotash. What a perfect time for me to go on a diet."
- "I need to take 'birds' off of my diet litht; that 1 went right through me." ~A Bird In A Guilty Cage
- Junior: "Did you give him his jutht desserts, Father?" Sylvester: "No, he doesn't like desserts." ~Cats A-Weigh
- Tweety: "I wonder where that puddy tat went to?" Sylvester [swinging on wooden swing, flattened by rock-crusher]: "Does thith anthwer your question?"
- In the Adventure Time episode, "Ignition Point", in the scene where Jake and Finn are face-to-face with the cook, Jake says " Suffering Succotash", Sylvester's famous line.
- Mel Blanc: 1945 - 1989
- Joe Alaskey: The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Tiny Toon Adventures, Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas, Looney Tunes: Stranger Than Fiction, Looney Tunes: Reality Check, Looney Tunes: Back In Action, Tweety's High Flying Adventure
- Terry Klassen: Baby Looney Tunes
- Bill Farmer: Space Jam
- Jeff Bergman: The Looney Tunes Show, Family Guy
- Main article: Sylvester/Gallery