29 mm rolled gold unisex size case, genuine leather strap, quartz movement
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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 inhabits a haunted house along with a community of adult ghosts who delight in scaring the living. Casper, however, is a noncomformist among ghosts: he would prefer to make friends with people. He packs up his belongings and goes out into the world, hoping to find friends. However, the animals that he meets (a rooster, a mole, a cat, a 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 (apparently forgetting that he is already dead) by laying himself down on a railway track before an oncoming train, before he meets two children named Bonnie and Johnny who become his friends. The children's mother -- apparently widowed and impoverished -- at first is frightened of Casper, but later welcomes him into the family after he (unintentionally) frightens off a greedy landlord, who, unwilling to own a "haunted" house, tears up the mortgage and gives her the house outright. The short ends with the mother kissing Bonnie, Johnny, and Casper as she sends them off to school, with Casper wearing clothing as if he were a living child.
Casper appeared in two more subsequent cartoons 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 the theme of Casper trying to find a friend and failing in these attempts before succeeding also occurs in later cartoons, the tone of this short turns remarkably dark when a hunter and his dogs appear, chasing the little fox cub named Ferdy that Casper has befriended. Although Casper scares the hunter and dogs away, Casper discovers Ferdy dead after a harrowing chase scene. Happily, however, Ferdy returns as a ghost to join his friend Casper in the afterlife.
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 the pudgy figure that 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 Famous Studio. Casper was first published in comics form in 1949 by St. John Publications; Alfred Harvey, founder and publisher of Harvey Comics began producing Casper comic books in 1952, and in 1959, Harvey 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 credited "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 (initially repackaged as Casper and Company) 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 (an animated takeoff on two live action hit shows Charlie's Angels and "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 rendered via 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.
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