He’s a “cartoon cryptozoologist” and he wants to share his passion with others.
Tom José Stathes will present Felix the Cat & Other Vintage Toon Characters at the Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m.
The historian, archivist, and preservationist will screen vintage, silent animation clips from the 1920s and 1930s that were originally made on 16mm film. Attendees will also learn about the industry’s history and get to know some of its pioneers (humans and drawings).
Admission is $5, but children under age three can attend for free.
Stathes has a rare film print collection with more than 1,000 cartoons, including episodes by Pat Sullivan Studios starring characters such as Felix the Cat, Old Pop Perkins, Johnny Boston Beans, and Obliging Oliver. The Queens resident is on a mission to acquire and preserve as many of these old films as possible and introduce them to the public.
Animated films first hit screens in 1913. The following year, John Randolph Bray built the first ever cartoon studio in New York City. The first segment with a soundtrack was “My Old Kentucky Home” by Max Fleisher in 1926. Two years later, Walt Disney produced “Steamboat Willie” starring Mickey Mouse.
From the 1920s through the 1950s, cartoons were often shown before feature films in movie theaters. Then they started appearing on television. In 1960, “The Flintstones” by Hanna-Barbera became the first animated series to run during prime time.
Located at 149-19 38th Ave., the Voelker Orth Museum was built by German immigrants in 1881. Today, the historic house hosts performances, art exhibitions, and workshops throughout the year and Shakespeare plays during the summer. The property features a Victorian garden which contains many of the most popular plants and berry bushes of the late 19th century. They are maintained with time-honored gardening techniques, such as hand-pruning with no pesticides.
Images courtesy of Tom José Stathes/Voelker Orth Museum