The Original Names of 10 Cartoon Characters
Like most kids, you probably grew up watching all the standard cartoon characters—Mickey, Tweety, and Betty Boop. But had different decisions been made, your Saturday mornings might have been occupied by Mortimer, Orson, and Nan instead. Read on to find out what 10 of your favorite cartoon characters were nearly named.
1. Tweety Bird was Orson
In this 1942 short, Tweety Bird managed to evade a comedic feline duo named Babbit and Catstello. Though Tweety's not specifically named in the cartoon, the staff called him “Orson” on the model sheet. It wasn’t until his second appearance in a short called “Birdy and the Beast” that Tweety received the name we all know him by today.
2. Mickey Mouse was Mortimer
Walt Disney planned on naming his most famous character “Mortimer,” but wife Lillian intervened. She felt that Mortimer didn’t quite fit, and suggested the friendlier-sounding “Mickey” as an alternative. Disney later added a “Mortimer Mouse” to the lineup as a rival for Minnie’s affections.
3. Pluto was Rover
Not only did Pluto have a different name in his first couple of cartoons, he was also Minnie’s dog, not Mickey’s. Walt didn’t think “Rover” had staying power, so he considered names like Pal and Homer before settling on something a bit more distinctive. The dog’s first appearance as Pluto was in a cartoon that debuted in October 1930, just a few months after the discovery of Pluto on February 18, 1930.
4. Goofy was Dippy Dawg
When Goofy debuted in a 1932 cartoon called “Mickey’s Revue,” he had a beard and glasses and was called “Dippy Dawg.” By “Orphan’s Benefit” in 1934, he had found the name we know him by today. There’s also a 1950s incarnation of Goofy who went by the name “George Geef.”
5. Elmer Fudd was Egghead
There’s some controversy over whether Egghead was the dimwitted hunter’s original name or a completely different character entirely. Egghead, a character with a bulbous noggin and khaki-colored hunting clothes, first appeared in Tex Avery’s 1937 cartoon “Egghead Rides Again.” The character was in a handful of shorts under that name before a more refined version shows up in the 1940 toon “Elmer’s Candid Camera.” Here’s a bit of an Egghead cartoon—decide for yourself.
6. Betty Boop was Nancy Lee or Nan McGrew
Before she was a leading lady, Betty Boop was often a supporting character in Fleischer Studios cartoons, going by the name Nancy Lee or Nan McGrew. She was also originally a poodle. Over time, her floppy ears morphed into hoop earrings and she was given a button nose.
7. Mighty Mouse was Super Mouse
The diminutive superhero starred in seven shorts under “Super Mouse, the Mouse of Tomorrow,” wearing colors similar to Superman’s. But it wasn’t the rodent’s similarity to Kal-El that caused the name switch—it was the debut of a Coo Coo Comics character that also went by “Super Mouse.” To prevent confusion, Terrytoons simply decided to make their mouse “Mighty” instead.
8. Yosemite Sam had at least three other potential names
Yosemite Sam’s creators agreed that the rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger had to have a Western-like name; they discussed “Wyoming Willie,” "Texas Tiny,” and “Denver Dan” before landing on the current memorable moniker.
9 and 10. Tom and Jerry were Jasper and Jinx
In their first cartoon “Puss Gets the Boot,” the famous cat and mouse duo were named Jasper and Jinx, though Jasper is the only one mentioned by name. William Hanna and Joe Barbera didn’t feel the names “clicked,” so they tested names until one of them (Hanna doesn’t remember who) came up with Tom and Jerry. Before they moved forward with the official name change, however, they had to make sure there were no legal issues; there’s also a Tom and Jerry holiday cocktail.