This page is about the original character. For other uses, see Casper (disambiguation).
Casper the Friendly Ghost is the protagonist of the Famous Studios theatrical animated cartoon series of the same name who also starred in many comics, a cartoon series and several films.
Casper is a good ghost, who, much to the chagrin of his uncles, prefers to help people, rather than scare them.
Not much is known about how Casper came to be a ghost, or how he ended up with the Ghostly Trio. According to the 1995 feature film Casper, he died when contracted pneumonia from playing out in the cold for too long, but so far, that's the only version there is.
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.<ref>http://www.tvparty.com/sat67.html</ref>
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.
In the original Harveytoons animation, Casper has been seen standing next to a grave inscribed with "Casper", that supports the theory he is indeed a ghost. Originally, stories have shown that his visibility is due to wearing a sheet. In the Casper live movie, this is not shown and it is implied that he is naturally visible to humans as a white creature.
He uses physical makeup in a Harveytoons show where Casper takes care of a pair of kittens, it opens with seeing (or not seeing) him scrubbing himself off in the shower, completely invisible. He becomes visible by putting on something like a white cloth that people traditionally use to masquerade as ghosts. This implies that he is naturally invisible and puts this on so that he can be seen and interact with others.
In spite of this, he is apparently still able to move through solid objects without leaving this behind, so he may be able to extend his ability to move through things to other objects.
Creation and Productions
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.Template:Citation needed
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 Katnip, 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.Template:Citation needed 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 continuously 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 & "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 1996, Fox created a new Casper series, based on the 1995 feature, that lasted two years. In the late 1990s, two live-action direct-to-video follow-ups to the 1995 film: Casper: A Spirited Beginning and Casper Meets Wendy (which introduced Hilary Duff in her first feature) were made. They were followed by Casper's Haunted Christmas (starring Spooky and Poil from the original comics and animated spin-off of the first movie), and Casper's Scare School, which were done entirely in CGI with no live-action elements. These films are often being regarded as "prequels" 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) continuity.
In 2001, Harvey Entertainment was acquired by Classic Media which continues to license the Harvey properties including Casper.<ref>http://www.allbusiness.com/marketing-advertising/4114775-1.html</ref>
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).
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, Casper CD-ROM games were developed and published in many languages in 2006 and 2007 by Compendia.
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 NASA's Apollo 16 mission to the moon in 1971 was named "Casper" after the cartoon character.I
- 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.
- NASA 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 gravestone 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 DouchebagGhost". 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.
- 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. In the song, Casper was down on his luck and threw his last dime into a wishing well but was too close and fell to his death.
- 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.
- 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.
Being a ghost, Casper can become invisible and intangible, as well as fly. He is also able to turn other things in close proximity (probably requiring to touch them) intangible as well. He does with the sheet he wears to be seen, and also did it to feed a dog a bone when Casper scared off the cooked chicken that was going to be the watchdog's reward. It is unknown if he is able to turn living things intangible with him.
He has also been seen (such as in Which is Witch) fading into view to his standard white appearance from being invisible, rather than putting on the sheet. This indicates that he puts on the sheet for visibility, but is also able to turn it invisible to match his natural state. It is unknown if he is able to turn living things invisible too. However, one issue of the comic (1960s) where Casper is speaking to a friend, said that "to become invisible, think nothing."
Casper seems to be able to selectively affect the world. His natural state seems to be to be intangible (along with making his sheet this way) since when he is unaware, things pass right through him. But he is also able to physically affect things, such as moving around things or people.
It is unknown if Casper has mass, he seems to be in sync with the earth's orbit, though not necessarily due to gravity since he is able to fly at will.
- The Ghostly Trio (at times)
- Wendy the Good Little Witch (Casper Meets Wendy, cartoons and comics)
- Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost (at times)
- Hot stuff the Little Devil (Casper and the Spectrals and other comics)
- Little Audrey
- Kat Harvey (Casper (film) and The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper)
- Chris Carson (Casper: A Spirited Beginning)
- Holly Jolliemoore (Casper's Haunted Christmas)
- The Ghostly Trio (at times)
- Carrigan Crittenden (Casper (film))
- Paul "Dibs" Plutzker (Casper (film))
- Amber Whitmire (Casper (film))
- Vic Dephillipi(Casper (film))
- Kibosh (Casper: A Spirited Beginning, Casper's Haunted Christmas, and Casper's Scare School (film and series))
- Snivel (Casper: A Spirited Beginning and Casper's Haunted Christmas)
- Desmond Spellman (Casper Meets Wendy)
- Vincent and Jules (Casper Meets Wendy)
- Alder and Dash (Casper's Scare School)
- Thatch (Casper's Scare School)
- Willem George Volbragg (Casper and the Spectrals)