Beloved Cartoon Character Comes Out of Retirement
Bithlo, Florida — With controversy swirling around several prominent cartoon characters, the most recent incident involving the wildly popular SpongeBob Squarepants and his sidekick Patrick coming under fire from conservative Christian groups led by Dr. James Dobson the founder of Focus on the Family, claiming that they are working to promote homosexuality, an old hand at children’s entertainment has announced that he is coming out of retirement.
From his trailer in this seedy Orlando suburb, Mighty Mouse says he is ready to make a comeback.
“The whole scene just makes me sick,” said the now portly Mouse who just celebrated his 63rd birthday, “I mean, just look at that Tinky [Teletubbie] and tell me he ain’t a little light in the loafers. That Falwell guy was right on the money if you ask me.”
The aging Mouse of Steel says the recent accusations are hardly any surprise to those who have watching the “’toon” scene in recent years. “It all started with that Rocky and Bullwinkle, a couple of weirdoes, those two were high all the time.”
Mouse began life as Michelangelo Mousellini, born under a staircase in Newark, New Jersey to his immigrant Italian rodent parents. After his father was killed in a turf dispute with Irish rats, he set out for Hollywood and fame. That is where he met with Izzy Klein of Terrytoon studios. “Izzy told me he liked my looks, but the name had to go,” Mouse reminisces in his Jersey accent fondly, “It was during the war and Mousellini sounding a little too much like Il Duce. Too ethnic. They called me Mickey at home, but Izzy said he didn’t want any trouble with the Disney people. The ‘toon world was pretty rough back in those days. So we came up with Mighty Mouse and it stuck.”
Mouse went on to star in several animated features during the forties, moving to the small screen in 1955 with his own show on CBS called Mighty Mouse Playhouse. It was here he teamed up with his perennial arch-nemesis Oil Can Harry and Mitzi, the object of his rescue attempts. He later married Mitzi after a whirlwind studio romance in 1957.
These “mellerdramas” were famous for their opera-style singing and slapstick violence and adored by millions of American children. “That’s all the kids needed back then,” Mouse says lighting a cigarette and opening a can a beer, “Some music, some mindless mayhem and violence and a pretty dame. Same thing every week.”
Not that the cartoon world of the Fifties and Sixties was without controversy. Mighty Mouse Playhouse broke the color barrier with the introduction of “Heckle and Jeckle” the mischievous magpies. “Nobody could toss a stick of dynamite like them two,” chuckled Mouse, “Kinda of a shame how they made the colored acts come to rehearsals through the back door though.”
During the social upheaval of the Sixties it was apparent that the cast was becoming increasingly frayed. There were rumors of heavy drinking, backstage fighting and extramarital affairs. Mouse is still irritated by this after forty years, “Sure, there was some wild times, but it was just booze and broads, none of this homo stuff like these pansies today.”
The highly publicized divorced proceedings of Mighty and Mitzi, the accidental death of Jeckle when a stunt went wrong, and Oil Can Harry going into rehab took its toll on the production and it aired its last episode in 1967.
Mouse came back to television briefly in 1979 to reprise his roll as the Mouse of Steel, but times had changed and the program went off the air after only sixteen episodes. His voice ruined by a three pack a day cigarette habit and hard drinking, Mouse then went on the road doing dinner theatre on the Chuckie Cheez circuit with Heckle and Pearl Pureheart (who replaced Mitzi in later episodes) and Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog who had just lost his partner Tom Terrific to an apparent heroin overdose.
“Those were tough times,” Mouse reflects, “but now that I’ve accepted Jesus into my heart I feel like I’m ready to try again.” He points to a photo of him and televangelist Pat Robertson on the mantle, “After Pearl (Mouse and Pureheart were married in 1971) was killed by that hawk, my life was a mess. But Brother Pat turned my life around,” referring to his televised baptism on the 700 Club in 1991.
A spokesman for Focus on the Family responded that the organization was happy to see the return of Mighty Mouse, “While Mr. Mouse has had his share of troubles over the years, he is still one of our finest entertainers. His unique style of merriment combined violence and romance without a hint of sexual ambiguity. In short, just what our children need today.”
When asked if he was nervous about returning to the public eye after such a long hiatus, Mouse, lighting one of his signature non-filter Pall Malls, replied, “I’ve got to do this for the kids. They’re the future.”
Barney McClelland’s website is As I Please.