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Casper the Friendly Ghost is the protagonist of the theatrical animated cartoon series of the same name produced by Famous Studios. He is a charming, sociable, and translucent ghost, but his three terrible uncles, the Ghostly Trio, frequently criticize him.
Between 1945 and 1959, the figure appeared in 55 theatrical cartoons. Since 1952, the character has appeared in Harvey Comics’ comic books, and in 1959, Harvey owned the character entirely. Casper became one of Harvey’s most well-known characters, appearing in hundreds of comic books.
Following Harvey’s purchase of the character, Matty’s Funday Funnies (1959″1961), The New Casper Cartoon Show (1963″1970), Casper and the Angels (1979″1980), The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper (1996″1998), and Casper’s Scare School (2009″2012) were the five television series in which he appeared. The character made his theatrical debut in Universal Pictures’ live-action adaption Casper (1995), becoming the first computer-generated character to star in a film, and he would go on to star in four direct-to-video and made-for-TV sequels.
Casper was conceived by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo in the late 1930s, with the former coming up with the character’s concept and the latter contributing the artwork. Originally conceived as the foundation for a 1939 children’s tale, their concept drew little attention at first. Oriolo sold the rights to the novel to Paramount Pictures’ Famous Studios animation branch for a total of $175 while Reit was overseas on military service during World War II. This one-time payment was all he got, and he didn’t get a cut of the profits from the upcoming films, comic books, and merchandise.
The Friendly Ghost, the first noveltoon featuring Casper, was published by Paramount in 1945, with a few alterations from the book. Casper is an adorable ghost-child with a New York accent who lives in a haunted mansion with a colony of older ghosts who like scaring the humans in the cartoon adaption. Casper, on the other hand, is a nonconformist among ghosts, preferring to make friends with humans. He gathers his possessions and sets out into the world in search of companionship. The creatures he encounters (a rooster, a mole, a cat, a mouse named Herman, and a bunch of hens) all gaze at him with horror, cry, “A ghost!” and flee in the opposite direction. Disgusted, Casper tries unsuccessfully to commit himself by lying down on a railway track in front of an incoming train (possibly forgetting that he is already dead), before meeting two youngsters called Bonnie and Johnny, who become his companions. Casper first frightens the children’s mother, who appears to be widowed and penniless, but she eventually accepts him into the family after he accidentally frightens off a greedy landlord, who, hesitant to possess a “haunted” property, tears up the mortgage and gives her the house outright. The film concludes with Bonnie, Johnny, and Casper being kissed by their mother as she sends them off to school, with Casper dressed as if he were a live kid.
There’s Good Boos To-Night and A Haunting We Will Go were two more cartoons in which Casper featured. Although the concept of Casper attempting to make friends and failing before succeeding appears in other Casper cartoons, the tone of this short changes dramatically when a hunter and his hounds come, hunting the adorable fox cub called Ferdie that Casper had befriended. Despite scaring the hunter and dogs away, Casper finds Ferdie dead after a tense chase scene. Ferdie, on the other hand, reappears as a ghost and joins his companion Casper in the hereafter.
Before starting a Casper the Friendly Ghost series in 1950, and running the theater presentations through summer 1959, these were turned into Noveltoons. Despite its popularity, the series was later panned by animation historians and viewers, primarily because the story of each episode was largely the same: Casper (now slightly thinner than the pudgy figure that first appeared in the cartoons) escapes from the afterlife of a regular ghost because he finds that scaring people year after year can be tiresome, tries to make friends but inadvertently scares almost everyone, and finally finds a (cute l) Winston Sharples wrote an orchestral theme for Casper’s cartoons in 1955.