|Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies character|
|First appearance||Naughty but Mice (early version; 1939)|
Life with Feathers (official version; 1945)
|Created by||Friz Freleng|
Bob Givens (1939–1941, 1943)
Robert McKimson (1941–1942)
Hawley Pratt (1945–)
Dick Ung (1965–1966)
|Voiced by||Mel Blanc (1945–1989)|
Bill Farmer (1987, 1996)
Jeff Bergman (1989–1993, 1997–1998, 2002-2004, 2007, 2011–present)
Joe Alaskey (1990–2011)
Greg Burson (1993, 1995, 1997)
Terry Klassen (Baby Looney Tunes; 2002–2005)
Jeff Bennett (2003, 2006)
Eric Bauza (2018, 2021–2022)
|Full name||Sylvester Pussycat, Sr.|
|Alias||Sylvester the Cat|
|Significant other||Mrs. Cat|
|Children||Sylvester Jr. (son)|
|Relatives||Sylth Vester (descendant)|
Sylvester Pussycat, Sr. is a fictional character, an anthropomorphic tuxedo cat in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Most of his appearances have him often chasing Tweety, Speedy Gonzales, or Hippety Hopper. He appeared in 103 cartoons in the golden age of American animation, lagging only behind superstars Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck. Three of his cartoons won Academy Awards, the most for any starring a Looney Tunes character: they are Tweetie Pie, Speedy Gonzales, and Birds Anonymous.
Sylvester predecessors appeared from 1939 to 1945. Naughty but Mice was the first, with the prototype appearing as a normal black cat. Notes to You was remade in color in one of Sylvester's cartoons, Back Alley Oproar. The Hep Cat features another version, as well as Birdy and the Beast, which features Tweety. Before Sylvester's appearance in the cartoons, Blanc voiced a character named Sylvester on The Judy Canova Show using the voice that would eventually become associated with the cat.
Sylvester's height is 60 or 72 inches (152.4 or 182.8 cm) or 5 or 6 feet (1.52 or 1.83 m) tall and his weight is 60 or 72 pounds (27.2 or 32.7 kg).
In many cartoons, Sylvester is shown intentionally sticking out his tongue while speaking, putting on emphasis that the lisp is intentional. He is also known for spraying people he is talking to with the saliva from his lisping, which is a trait rarely shared by Daffy. A common gag used for both Sylvester and Daffy is a tendency to go on a long rant, complaining about a subject and then ending it by saying "Sakes".
Sylvester's trademark exclamation is "Sufferin' succotash!", which is said to be a minced oath of "Suffering Savior".
He shows a different personality when paired with Porky Pig in explorations of spooky places, in which he does not speak, behaves as a scaredy-cat, and always seems to see the scary things Porky does not see and gets scolded by him for it every time.
For the most part, Sylvester has always played the antagonist role, but he's sometimes featured playing the protagonist in a couple of cartoons while having to deal with the canine duo of Spike and Chester after being chased around. In 1952's Tree for Two (directed by Friz Freleng), Sylvester is cornered in the back alley and this would result in Spike getting mauled by a black panther that had earlier escaped from a zoo without Spike and Chester knowing about it. In the 1954 film Dr. Jerkyl's Hide, Sylvester pummels Spike (here called "Alfie") thanks to a potion that transforms him into a feline monster. Both times after Spike's ordeal, Sylvester would have the courage and confidence to confront Chester, only to be beaten up and tossed away by the little dog.
Perhaps Sylvester's most developed role is in a series of Robert McKimson-directed shorts, in which the character is a hapless mouse-catching instructor to his dubious son, Sylvester Junior, with the "mouse" being a powerful baby kangaroo named Hippety Hopper which he constantly mistakes for a "giant mouse". His alternately confident and bewildered episodes bring his son to shame, while Sylvester himself is reduced to nervous breakdowns.
Sylvester also had atypical roles in a few cartoons:
In the television series Tiny Toon Adventures, Sylvester appeared as the mentor of Furrball. He also starred in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. In the series, he plays the narrator at the beginning of episodes.
Main article: List of cartoons featuring Sylvester
The character debuted in Friz Freleng's Life With Feathers (1945). Freleng's 1947 cartoon Tweetie Pie was the first pairing of Tweety with Sylvester, and the Bob Clampett-directed Kitty Kornered (1946) was Sylvester's first pairing with Porky Pig.
He also appears in a handful of cartoons with Elmer Fudd, such as a series of three cartoons underwritten by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation extolling the American economic system.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Sylvester appeared in various Warner Bros. television specials, and in the 1980s, he appeared in the feature-film compilations.
He has died more times than any other Looney Tunes character, having died in Peck Up Your Troubles, I Taw a Putty Tat, Back Alley Oproar, Mouse Mazurka, Bad Ol' Putty Tat, Ain't She Tweet, Satan's Waitin', Muzzle Tough, Sandy Claws, Tweety's Circus, Too Hop To Handle, Tree Cornered Tweety, Tweet and Lovely, Trick or Tweet (along with Sam Cat), The Wild Chase (along with Wile E. Coyote), and Museum Scream. He was even cast in the role of the Jacob Marley-like ghost called Sylvester the Investor in Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas.
A baby version of Sylvester is part of the title cast of characters in Baby Looney Tunes, voiced by Terry Klassen.
Sylvester is featured in The Looney Tunes Show (2011–14), voiced by Jeff Bergman. He is shown living with Granny alongside Tweety. In "Point, Laser Point", it is revealed that Sylvester was attracted by a glowing red dot that was on his mother's necklace when he was young as experienced through hypnotic therapy done by Witch Lezah. It was also revealed that his mother (voiced by Estelle Harris) has retired to Florida. When Sylvester visits her, she reveals she's disappointed that Sylvester isn't married, doesn't have kids, never kept wearing his retainer, never remembered where she lives in Florida, and has not caught Tweety yet. This episode also introduced Sylvester's brother Alan (voiced by Jeff Bennett) who became more successful than Sylvester.
Sylvester also makes recurring appearances in both New Looney Tunes and Looney Tunes Cartoons. Jeff Bergman reprises his role for both.
Sylvester appeared in King Tweety. He was voiced by Eric Bauza, who also voiced him in Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem.
In an episode of Press Your Luck, Sylvester (voiced by Mel Blanc) calls Peter Tomarken after Tomarken incorrectly said that Daffy Duck coined the catchphrase, “Suffering Succotash” during the question round.
Sylvester makes a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where he provides the punchline for a double-entendre joke regarding Judge Doom's (Christopher Lloyd) identity. This was Mel Blanc's final time voicing him.
Sylvester appears as part of the Tune Squad team in Space Jam voiced by Bill Farmer. He bears the number 9 on his jersey where the Tune Squad and Michael Jordan competed against the Monstars.
He also has two cameo appearances in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but the second time, "Sylvester" is really Mr. Smith in disguise.
A cat appears in Color Rhapsody shorts "Up and Atom" and "Boston Beanie" that bares a strong resemblance to Sylvester.
Sylvester appears in the Robot Chicken episode "Werewolf vs. Unicorn", voiced by Patrick Pinney. During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s announcement of illegal aliens from Mexico, Sylvester demonstrates a wired fence that will keep the aliens out, only for it to be penetrated by Speedy Gonzales.
Sylvester makes a vocal cameo appearance in the 2020 Animaniacs revival segment "Suffragette City", with Jeff Bergman reprising his role.
Sylvester appears in Space Jam: A New Legacy voiced again by Jeff Bergman. He plays for the Tune Squad in their match against the Goon Squad. At one point before the second half, Sylvester thought he found Michael Jordan in the audience which he revealed to the Tune Squad only for LeBron James to find that he actually ran into Michael B. Jordan. This caused Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd to reprimand him for not noticing the difference as Sylvester thought he aged good.
From 1979 to 1983, Sylvester was the "spokescat" for 9 Lives' line of dry cat food. His face appeared on the product's boxes and Sylvester was also featured in a series of television commercials. These ads usually consisted of Sylvester trying to get to his box of 9 Lives dry cat food while avoiding Hector the Bulldog. Sylvester would always succeed in luring the dog away so he could get to his food, but would always find himself a target again by the end of the commercial, which generally ended with Sylvester calling 9 Lives dry cat food "worth riskin' your life for."
Western Publications produced a comic book about Tweety and Sylvester entitled Tweety and Sylvester, first in Dell Comics Four Color series #406, 489, and 524, then in their own title from Dell Comics (#4–37, 1954–62), and later from Gold Key Comics (#1–102, 1963–72). In most of the earlier comic books, Sylvester has white fur surrounding his eyes (similar to Pepé Le Pew) and green eyes. They both disappeared in the later comic books. The green eyes could be seen in some merchandise as well.
Sylvester and Tweety appeared in a DC Comics and Looney Tunes crossover comic called Catwoman/Tweety and Sylvester #1. In the issue, witches from the DC and Looney Tunes universes placed a wager where the existence of all birds and cats (as well as all bird- and cat-themed heroes and villains) depended on if Sylvester could eat Tweety. Sylvester (designed more realistically for the DC Universe) teamed up with Catwoman, while Tweety teamed up with the Black Canary.
Sylvester has appeared in the video games Sylvester and Tweety in Cagey Capers, The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Looney Tunes: Space Race, Bugs Bunny: Crazy Castle 3, and Sylvester and Tweety: Breakfast on the Run.
The name "Sylvester" is a play on Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the European wildcat (domestic cats like Sylvester are in the species Felis catus). Sylvester was not named until Chuck Jones gave him the name Sylvester, which was first used in Scaredy Cat. Although the character was named Sylvester in later cartoon shorts (beginning with 1948's Scaredy Cat), he was called "Thomas" in his first appearance with Tweety in Tweetie Pie, most likely as a reference to a male cat being called a tom. However, this name would never be used again because MGM already had a cat named Thomas from Tom and Jerry. Mel Blanc had also voiced a human character named Sylvester on Judy Canova's radio show earlier in the 1940s.
Sylvester's trademark is his sloppy and yet stridulating lisp. In Mel Blanc's autobiography, That's Not All Folks!, it is worth noting that Sylvester's voice is similar to Daffy Duck's, only not sped up in post-production, plus the even more exaggerated slobbery lisp. Conventional wisdom is that Daffy's lisp, and hence also 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 said that Sylvester's voice was very much like his own, excluding the lisp (his son Noel Blanc has also confirmed this). In addition, director Bob Clampett, in a 1970 Funnyworld interview, agreed with Blanc's account concerning Schlesinger. Greg Ford once asked Blanc what was the difference between Daffy and Sylvester's voices. Blanc said to him that Daffy is a Jew and Sylvester is a Gentile.
Sylvester was #33 on TV Guide's list of top 50 best cartoon characters, together with Tweety.