Penelope Pussycat
Looney Tunes character
First appearanceFor Scent-imental Reasons (November 12, 1949)
Created byChuck Jones
Voiced by
In-universe information
SpeciesCat
GenderFemale
Significant otherPepé Le Pew
NationalityFrench

Penelope Pussycat is an animated cartoon character, featured in the Warner Bros. classic Looney Tunes animated shorts as the protagonist of the Pepé Le Pew shorts. Although she is typically a non-speaker, her "meows" and "purrs" (or "le mews" and "le purrs") were most often provided by Mel Blanc using a feminine voice. The character did not originally have a permanent name; she was alternately referred to as Penelope, Fifi and Fabrette, and animator Chuck Jones' 1960 model sheet simply calls her "Le Cat".[1] The name "Penelope Pussycat" was created retroactively for Warner Bros. marketing.

The character first appeared in the 1949 short For Scent-imental Reasons, which won an Academy Award.[2] While the skunk had been used in several earlier cartoons since Odor-able Kitty (1945), the addition of his female pussycat paramour in For Scent-imental Reasons solidified his characterization and the structure of all further Pepé films.[3]

As the unfortunate target of unwanted physical attention, the character has been examined in feminist film criticism as an example of a "rape-revenge narrative"; however, this reading is complicated by the ending of some of the cartoons, which flip the dynamic and leave Pepé as the unwilling recipient of the cat's affections.[4]

In the 1959 short Really Scent, she was voiced by June Foray, in the 1962 short Louvre Come Back to Me!, she was voiced by Julie Bennett, and in the 2000 film, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, she was voiced by Frank Welker. Her first speaking role was in the 1995 short Carrotblanca, where she was voiced by Tress MacNeille.

History

Penelope Pussycat is best known as the often bewildered love interest of Looney Tunes' anthropomorphic skunk, Pepé Le Pew. Penelope is a black and white cat, who often finds herself with a white stripe down her back, whether painted intentionally or by accident.[1]

She often finds herself being chased by the overly enthusiastic Pepé, but when the occasion has presented itself, Penelope has been portrayed as the pursuer. For Scent-imental Reasons, Little Beau Pepé, and Really Scent have all shown Penelope to harbor an attraction to Pepé whenever his scent is neutralized (though in each cited instance, extenuating circumstances have caused Pepé to become repulsed by her, inciting Penelope to reverse the roles).

In current Warner Bros. merchandise, Penelope and Pepé are portrayed as sharing a mutual attraction towards each other, whereas the Looney Tunes comic book series maintains their chasing relationship. Carrotblanca featured her as the Ilsa analogue to Bugs Bunny's Rick, with Sylvester portraying her husband and Pepe being a minor pursuer.

Penelope Pussycat partly inspired the Tiny Toon Adventures character Furrball, a male cat who, in one episode, is chased by an amorous female skunk (Fifi La Fume) due to getting a white stripe painted down his back and tail.

Penelope remained without an official name for many years. In the 1954 short, The Cat's Bah, her mistress referred to her as "Penelope". The name was later contradicted in the 1955 short, Two Scent's Worth, where she was identified as "Fifi". In the 1959 short, Really Scent, she was called "Fabrette". A model sheet from the early 1990s referred to the character as "Le Cat". The 1995 release of Carrotblanca (a parody of Casablanca) canonized her name as "Penelope Pussycat", with many advertisements for the short crediting her as "Penelope Pussycat in her first speaking role".

Appearances

Classic shorts

Other media

References

  1. ^ a b Sandler, Kevin, ed. (1998). "Ah Love! Zee Grand Illusion! Pepé Le Pew, Narcissism and Cats in the Casbah". Reading the Rabbit; Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press: 137–153. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  2. ^ Beck, Jerry; Friedwald, Will (1989). Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons. Henry Holt and Co. p. 204. ISBN 0-8050-0894-2.
  3. ^ Schneider, Steve (1988). That's All, Folks! : The Art of Warner Bros. Animation. Henry Holt and Co. pp. 204–205. ISBN 0-8050-0889-6.
  4. ^ Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra (2011). Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study. McFarland & Co. p. 61. ISBN 9780786486922. Retrieved 21 July 2020.