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Casper the Friendly Ghost is the protagonist of the Famous Studios theatrical animated cartoon series of the same name. As his name indicates, he is a ghost, but is quite personable. According to the 1995 feature film Casper, his family name is McFadden, making his "full" name Casper McFadden.

Nature of Casper's existence

Given that Casper is depicted as a ghostly slightly obese little boy, there is a controversy among fans of the series about whether or not he is a dead child. Early Casper cartoons seemed to suggest this, as they portrayed him "living" beside a gravestone. Specifically, the short There's Good Boos To-Night featured Ferdie, a fox befriended by Casper, coming back from the dead as a ghost. Casper's death (as well as the reason why he became friendly) has become disputed since then.

This somewhat macabre premise was later abandoned in favor of the idea that ghosts were merely a type of creature, similar to ghouls, goblins, etc. He was thereafter portrayed with feet and shown to have ghostly parents & became slightly slimmer. In the 1960s and 1970s, the stock answer provided by Harvey Comics in response to those wondering how Casper died was that he was a ghost simply because his parents were already ghosts when they were married.

The 1995 feature film Casper, however, revived the notion that Casper was a deceased human and provided a brief account of his death. According to the film, Casper was sledding in the snow and stayed out for too long, dying of pneumonia. The first direct-to-video film to follow the feature, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, showed Casper's early days as a ghost, not showing how he died and ignoring the story provided in the previous film.


Creation and success at Paramount

Casper was created in the late 1930s by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, the former devising the idea for the character and the latter providing illustrations. Intended initially as the basis for a 1939 children's storybook, there was at first little interest in their idea. When Reit was away on military service during the Second World War before the book was released, Oriolo sold the rights to the book to Paramount Pictures' Famous Studios animation division, for which he had occasionally worked.

The Friendly Ghost, the first Noveltoon to feature Casper, was released by Paramount in 1945 with a few differences from the book. In the cartoon adaptation, Casper is a cute ghost-child with a New York accent, who prefers making friends with people instead of scaring them (Casper used to scare people but got tired of it all). He runs away from home and goes out to make friends. However, the animals he meets (a rooster, a mole, a cat, a mouse resembling Herman, and a group of hens) take one horrified look at him and run off in the other direction. Distraught, Casper unsuccessfully attempts to commit suicide by laying himself down on a railway track before an oncoming train (apparently forgetting that he's already dead) before he meets two little children named Bonnie and Johnny who become his friends. The children's mother at first is frightened of Casper, but later welcomes him into the family and sends him off with her children to town wearing clothes after he wards off a greedy landlord.

Casper appeared in two more subsequent books by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo, There's Good Boos To-Night and A Haunting We Will Go. (There's Good Boos To-Night differs wildly from later Casper cartoons: although Casper trying to find a friend and scaring everyone away before succeeding also occurs in later cartoons, the tone of the cartoon turns dark when a hunter and his dogs appear. Although Casper scares them away, the fox he has befriended is killed, but happily returns as a ghost.)

These were later adapted into Noveltoons before Paramount started a Casper the Friendly Ghost series in 1950, and ran the theatrical releases until the summer of 1959. Nearly every entry in the series was the same: Casper (now slightly thinner than his obese self that first appeared in the earlier cartoons) escapes from the afterlife of a regular ghost because he finds that scaring people can be tiresome year after year, tries to find friends but inadvertently scares almost everyone, and finally finds a (cute little) friend, whom he saves from some sort of fate, leading to his acceptance by those initially scared of him. The cartoon series also boasted a catchy title song which was written by Jerry Livingston and Mack David. By 1955, however, composer Winston Sharples composed an entirely new instrumental theme for Casper's cartoons.

Harvey Comics, television and films

Casper went on to become one of the most famous properties from the Famous Studio. Alfred Harvey, founder and publisher of Harvey Comics began producing Casper comic books in 1952, and in 1959, purchased the rights to the character outright.

After Harvey bought the rights to Casper and many other Famous properties in 1959 (including Herman and Katnip, Little Audrey, and Baby Huey), they began broadcasting the post-September 1950 theatrical Famous shorts on a television show sponsored by Mattel Toys titled Matty's Funday Funnies on ABC in 1959 which introduced the Barbie doll to the public. The other Famous produced Casper cartoons had already been acquired by television distributor U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. in 1956. U.M.&M. retitled just "A Haunting We Will Go", but miscredited "Featuring Casper The Friendly Ghost" as "Featuring Caspers Friendly Ghost".

New cartoons were created for The New Casper Cartoon Show in 1963, also on ABC. The original Casper cartoons were syndicated under the title Harveytoons in 1962 and ran continually until the mid-90s. Casper has remained popular in reruns and merchandising, and Hanna-Barbera produced two holiday specials, Casper's First Christmas (which also starred Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy) and Casper's Halloween Special (aka Casper Saves Halloween), and also the Saturday morning cartoon series Casper and the Angels ( a animated takeoff on two live action hit shows Charlie's Angels & "CHiPS")in the autumn of 1979, all on NBC. Also featured on the NBC version was a big ghost named Hairy Scary (voiced by John Stephenson). None of Casper's original co-stars appeared in the show.

Numerous Casper cartoons were released on home video by Universal Studios (via MCA Inc.), which also adapted the friendly ghost into a live-action feature film entitled Casper in 1995, where he and his wicked uncles, the Ghostly Trio, were done with computer animation. The film constructed a back-story for Casper and is the only time in the series that the question of his death has been addressed. According to the film, Casper was a twelve-year-old boy living in Whipstaff Manor with his inventor father J.T. McFadden until he died from pneumonia after playing out in the cold until it was past nightfall. Much of the backstory he is given in the film is contradicted by other Casper media. Whipstaff Manor appears to represent the historic Schroeppel Mansion in Syracuse, New York, which is a national monument. McFadden seems to be the name the writers used because the actual family named von Schroeppel lost a twelve year old son named Casper to drowning in Morristown, New York, who is said to haunt the family's estate in Syracuse. Casper was a name that could be used but not the actual name of the family.

In 1995, Fox created a new Casper series, based on the 1995 feature, that lasted two years. Two live-action direct-to-video follow-ups, Casper: A Spirited Beginning and Casper Meets Wendy, which introduced Hilary Duff, to the film were later made. They were followed by Casper's Haunted Christmas (starring Spooky and Poil from the animated spinoff of the first movie), and Casper's Scare School, which were done entirely in CGI with no live-action elements. These films are often referred to as being "sequels" to the 1995 feature despite the fact that they heartily contradict the feature and do not appear to even take place in the same (cartoon) universe.

In 2001, Harvey Entertainment was acquired by Classic Media which continues to license the Harvey properties including Casper.

In 2007, MoonScoop Group, in association with Classic Media, TF1 et DQ, produced a TV show of 52 X 12' named (Casper's Scare School).

Actors to play Casper

Cecil H. Roy voiced Casper in the majority of the Famous Studios cartoons along with Mae Questel. Casper was voiced by Norma MacMillan in The New Casper Cartoon Show, by Julie McWhirter-Dees in the Hanna-Barbara cartoons, by Malachi Pearson in the 1995 movie Casper and The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, by Jeremy Foley in Casper: A Spirited Beginning and Casper Meets Wendy, by Brendon Ryan Barrett in Casper's Haunted Christmas and by Devon Werkheiser in Casper's Scare School. Devon Sawa is the only actor to play the character in live-action, portraying him in a sequence from the 1995 film in which Casper was temporarily brought back to life.

Other appearances and references

  • In the film Ghost Dad, with Bill Cosby, the main character's daughter comments that when everyone learns her father is a ghost they will say, "Oh, look; there goes Casper's daughter."
  • In the film A Perfect World, eight-year old Phillip Perry (T. J. Lowther) shoplifts and wears a Casper costume.
  • In the film Kids, one of the lead characters' names is Casper, and he frequently describes himself as the friendly ghost.
  • The Command Service Module on NASAmarker's Apollo 16 mission to the moon in 1971 was named "Casper" after the cartoon character.
  • In the film Me, Myself & Irene, Jim Carrey's character 'Charlie' asks new tagalong "Milky" for his real name, insisting that they should stop calling him that. His response was "Casper, but my friends call me 'Whitey'". The reference is that Casper is an albino nerdy loner kid.
  • NASAmarker named a Martian rock after Casper during the Mars Pathfinder's trip to the planet Mars in 1997. In the initial photos, the "Casper Rock" was shown to be completely white.
  • Casper was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons. Bart and Lisa were comparing each other's comic unfavorably, when Bart pointed out that Casper bore an uncanny resemblance to Richie Rich and was probably Richie's ghost. When Bart wondered how Richie died, Lisa mused that perhaps he realized how hollow the pursuit of money is, and took his own life. Simpsons creator Matt Groening would later echo this opinion on the animated talk show Space Ghost Coast to Coast, mentioning that the Casper and Richie looked "very similar" after Groening wonders aloud "Who is Casper the ghost of? Casper, the Little Dead Boy?" In an episode of the Simpsons' annual Treehouse of Horror series, a grave stone can be seen that reads "Casper the Friendly Boy."
  • In the Family Guy three-part episode/film, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, one scene depicts Casper's demise in an act accidentally initiated by Stewie. The two were playing catch when Stewie told Casper to go long. As he was running, Casper didn't pay attention and was hit by a car, becoming a ghost seconds later (though Casper claims that he was "going to off himself on Tuesday anyway").
  • On Cheers, Norm Peterson observed that by the end of each episode Casper was surrounded by friends, but by the beginning of the next episode he was once again friendless. Cliff Clavin's response was that Casper was simply quenching his thirst for blood.
  • In The X-Files Unrestricted Access PC CD-ROM Adventure Game, an unnamed FBI agent insults the player's supernatural investigation by referencing Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • The name of the school in the Nickelodeon series Danny Phantom is Casper High.
  • Casper is parodied in an episode of Robot Chicken in which he has a brother named Jasper "The Douchebag Ghost". Jasper is identical in appearance to Casper, but his personality and mannerisms are the opposite of Casper's. Instead of being friendly toward people, Jasper plays rude jokes on them (Possessing the body of a dead person at their funeral, cursing at people, etc).
  • In a short from Tom and Jerry Tales, Tom uses his master Van Hellsing's equipment to capture several ghosts, including one calling himself "Jasper the Social Ghost".
  • The song "Ghost Ride" by Mistah FAB makes a reference to Casper.
  • Casper CD-ROM games were developed and published in many languages in 2006 and 2007 by Compedia.
  • An episode of SpongeBob SquarePants is called "Squidward the Unfriendly Ghost".
  • Casper was going to appear in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but was dropped out later on in production.
  • In the The Hermit of Black Rock episode of The Land Before Time (based on The Land Before Time films), Guido refers to Chomper as Chomper the friendly Sharptooth.
  • Daniel Johnston wrote a song entitled "Casper the Friendly Ghost" which was included on his 1983 recording Yip/Jump Music.
  • The Casper Ghosts minor league baseball team uses the icon of Casper as an alternate logo with permission from the Harvey Entertainment division of Classic Media.
  • In the movie The Haunted Mansion, one of Eddie Murphy's lines is "no way, forget it Casper!" when talking to his son about helping the ghosts in the mansion.
  • There have been several video games released based on Casper. Two different games for the Super NES. Casper for the 3DO, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, and Game Boy Color. Casper for the Game Boy. Casper for the Game Boy Advance. Casper: The Interactive Adventure for the PC. Casper: Friends Around the World for the PlayStation. Casper: Spirit Dimensions for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. Casper and The Ghostly Trio for the PlayStation 2. Casper's Scare School for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS. There also have been several other PC games released.
  • On an episode of the short-lived Fox sketch comedy show The Edge, a sketch featured "What Casper the Friendly Boy is doing right this minute". In it, "Casper" scampers along a suburban street, waving and greeting all the people he passes. Suddenly, as he is crossing the street without looking, he is hit by an oncoming truck, thereby implying how Casper the Friendly Boy became Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • In the comic strip Scary Gary Leopold enlisted the aid of Casper to look for Scary Gary who was kidnapped by a monster hating next door neighbor.
  • Haunting Kempster in his dreams

Supporting characters


Comic book titles

This is a list of comic book titles that featured Casper as the main character (or main co-character). He also appeared in back up stories and made guest appearances in many other Harvey comic books like; Little Audrey, Paramount Animated Comics, Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, Wendy the Good Little Witch, and The Ghostly Trio.
  • Casper'
  • Casper Adventure Digest
  • Casper and...
  • Casper and Friends
  • Casper and Friends Magazine
  • Casper and Nightmare
  • Casper and Spooky
  • Casper and The Ghostly Trio
  • Casper and Spooky
  • Casper: A Spirited Beginning (film adaptation)
  • Casper Big Book
  • Casper Digest
  • Casper Digest Stories
  • Casper Digest Winners
  • Casper Enchanted Tales Digest
  • Casper Ghostland
  • Casper Giant Size
  • Casper Halloween Trick or Treat
  • Casper in Space
  • Casper in 3-D
  • Casper Magazine
  • Casper Movie Adaptation
  • Casper's Ghostland
  • Casper's Spaceship
  • Casper Special
  • Casper Strange Ghost Stories
  • Casper, the Friendly Ghost
  • Casper TV Showtime
  • Famous TV Funday Funnies
  • The Friendly Ghost, Casper
  • Harvey Two-Pack
  • Nightmare and Casper
  • Richie Rich and Casper
  • Richie Rich, Casper, and Wendy
  • TV Casper and Company

See also


External links

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