This Day in Pop Culture for July 19

Tom and Jerry

1941: Tom and Jerry Appear as Themselves

In the 1930’s, MGM’s animated unit created a series of cartoons based on the Captain and the Kids comic strip. The results were less than impressive. Meanwhile, in 1937, Joseph Barbera began his new job as an animator. When he heard that the studio wanted to develop some new animated characters that would be more successful, Barbera teamed up with William Hanna who pitched a few ideas including one that would contain two “equal characters who were always in conflict with each other.” One combination involved a fox and a dog which eventually became a cat and a mouse. In 1940, the two starred in Puss Gets the Boot only Tom was known as Jasper and the mouse had no name at all. After Hanna and Barbera were instructed not to create any more cat and mouse cartoons, they worked on a few other cartoon ideas. But when Bessa Short, a Texas businesswoman sent a letter to MGM asking when and if more cat and mouse cartoons would be created, it helped to convince them that more needed to be made. MGM held a contest among the employees to come up with names for the two critters. Animator John Carr came up with Tom and Jerry and won $50. It was on this day in 1941 when Tom and Jerry starred as themselves for the cartoon short, The Midnight Snack, but Hanna and Barbera’s names were omitted from the film. However, the film was nominated for an Academy Award. From there, the animating team created 114 cartoons for MGM and 13 of them were also nominated for Oscars. (Image: MGM/Warner Bros.)

1989: ‘My Sister Sam’ Actress is Murdered

Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer was just 22 when she was shot and killed on this day in 1989 by Robert John Bardo. Schaeffer was an up-and-coming actress making her big break with the sitcom, My Sister Sam who she starred with Pam Dawber (Mork and Mindy). In 1987 Bardo traveled to twice to L. A. in hopes of meeting Schaeffer in person on the TV show set, but the security team ushered him out. In 1989, Bardo hired a detective to locate Schaeffer’s home address through the DMV and got it. He then went to Schaeffer’s home and when she didn’t give him what he wanted, he shot and killed her. Shortly after her death, Dawber and other former co-stars reunited to film a public service announcement for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Schaeffer’s honor. Because of this event, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was enacted in 1994, which prevents the DMV from releasing private addresses.



  • 1883: Max Fleischer (animator)
  • 1924: Arthur Rankin Jr. (animator)
  • 1976: Benedict Cumberbatch (actor)

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