Hubie and Bertie are mouse characters in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Though largely forgotten today, Hubie and Bertie represent some of director Chuck Jones' first and earliest work that was intended to be funny, rather than cute.
All seven of their cartoons were given Blue Ribbon reissues.
Chuck debuted Hubie and Bertie in the short The Aristo-cat, first released on June 19, 1943. The storyline of the cartoon would serve as the template for most future Hubie/Bertie outings: A character with some mental illness or degree of naïveté, here, a cat who doesn't know what a mouse looks like, is psychologically tormented by the pair. In this cartoon, they well the mouse-hungry cat that a bulldog is a mouse, leading to several painful encounters for the cat.
Hubie is voiced by Michael Maltese and Bertie is voiced by Tedd Pierce; both men were screenwriters for Chuck at the time. Bertie and Hubie as designed by Chuck are nearly identical mice with long snouts, large ears, and big, black noses. The two are somewhat anthropomorphic, walking on their stubby hind legs and using their forelimbs as arms. The characters are distinguished by their color; one is brown with a lighter-colored belly and face, while the other is gray (which mouse is which color changes from film to film). Hubie has a pronounced Brooklyn street-accent. Bertie has large buck teeth, and a habit of responding to Hubie with: "Yeah-yeah, sure-sure!" or sniggering "Riot!" if Hubie has just proposed some scheme with great comedic potential.
Beginning with The Aristo-Cat, Jones quickly established differing personalities for his mice. Hubie, usually grayish-blue, is the thinker. He comes up with the plans, and he is the mouse with the chutzpah to fast-talk anyone into doing almost anything. Bertie, on the other hand, brown in this cartoon, is the doer. He performs the gruntwork to accomplish Hubie's schemes. Hubie makes it clear who is subservient to whom, slapping the simpler Bertie around whenever his natural goofiness interferes with the task at hand.
Trap Happy Porky (February 24, 1945) was their second appearance. Nameless, indistinguishable except for color, they appear only in the first act, stealing food from Porky Pig. They are silent except for a single "I'm only three and a half years old", and retreat when a cat shows up.
Chuck would repeat the theme of mind-games several more times in his Hubie & Bertie shorts, as in their second cartoon, Roughly Squeaking (November 23, 1946). This time, Jones has the mice exploit a cat's stupidity by convincing him that he's a lion and that a dog is a moose he wants to eat. By the short's end, the cat thinks he's a lion, the dog believes he's a pelican, and a bystanding bird has pulled his feathers out and imagines himself a Thanksgiving turkey. The mice are here voiced by Stan Freberg (Hubie) and Dick Nelson (Bertie).
The short was followed by House-Hunting Mice on September 6, 1947, where Hubie and Bertie run afoul of a housekeeping robot. In this cartoon and the next entry, Mouse Wreckers, Stan Freberg voices Hubie and Mel Blanc voiced Bertie; the actors would swap roles for the final two shorts. After the classic cartoons, Joe Alaskey would usually voice Bertie.
Cat and Mouse
Chuck created a permanent "villain" of sorts for the mice in Mouse Wreckers. The short was released on April 23, 1949 and was the first in which they are officially called "Hubie" and "Bertie." In the cartoon, the duo moves into a new home, only to discover that it is protected by champion mouser Claude Cat (the character's debut). The mice, of course, torment the poor puss both physically and mentally. The short was nominated for an Academy Award.
The mice would go on to antagonize Claude in two more films. The Hypo-Chondri-Cat (April 25, 1950), features Hubie and Bertie making Claude think he's sick with various ailments and, ultimately, make him think he's dead. In Cheese Chasers (August 25, 1951), Hubie and Bertie inadvertently torment Claude when, after going overboard on a cheese raid and getting sick of their favorite food, they decide to commit suicide by trying to get Claude to eat them.
After these seven cartoons, Chuck retired Hubie and Bertie. He was moving on to other characters, such as Pepé Le Pew/Penelope Pussycat, Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner, Marvin the Martian, and Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot. Jones would, however, continue to use the characters (or mice designed just like them) in cameo roles in other shorts whenever he needed a generic mouse for a gag (for instance, the unnamed mouse in Chow Hound or the "killer" mice in Scaredy Cat).
In recent years, Hubie and Bertie have made several cameos in Warner Bros. productions. For example, they're the sports announcers in the 1996 movie Space Jam. They also appear in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, and Duck Dodgers.
They had cameo appearances in the New Looney Tunes episodes "Appropriate Technology" and "Daffy the Stowaway". They are also among the captured mice in "Tweet Team".
Impact on Jones
Despite their short run of films, Hubie and Bertie are significant in that they symbolize Chuck Jones as he had reinvented himself in the late 1940s. Before then, his films were mostly sweet, Disney-esque fluff starring ultra-cute characters such as Sniffles (who coincidentally, was also a mouse). The Hubie & Bertie shorts, in contrast, are intensely humor-driven and full of over-the-top gags and jokes, and the creation of these characters marked Jones' departure from creating Disney-esque cutesy characters, eventually leading to the creation of more comedic characters such as The Three Bears, Charlie Dog, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, and many more.
In addition, Hubie and Bertie's penchant for playing to their foes' neuroses hints at Jones' later work with Looney Tunes characters such as Daffy Duck. Jones is the one largely responsible for turning Daffy from a bouncing screwball to a neurotic narcissist, and it is Jones who introduced several characters who are driven by believable impulses rather than just revenge, such as Wile E. Coyote with his obsessive pursuit of Road Runner, Pepé Le Pew with his outsized libido, and Penelope Pussycat with her lack of self-control when she falls in love. Chuck's Hubie & Bertie shorts prove that the director was already thinking about characters in terms of their personalities.
During the Golden Age
- The Aristo-cat (1943)
- Trap Happy Porky (1945)
- Roughly Squeaking (1946)
- House Hunting Mice (1947)
- Mouse Wreckers (1949)
- The Hypo-Chondri-Cat (1950)
- Cheese Chasers (1951)
Cartoons featuring similar-looking mice (mice resembling Hubie or Bertie)
- The Fifth-Column Mouse(1943) - features a mouse resembling Bertie
- From Hand to Mouse (1944) - features a mouse resembling Bertie
- Odor-able Kitty (1945) - features a mouse resembling Hubie, cameo appearance
- Fair and Worm-er (1946) - features a mouse resembling Hubie
- Scaredy Cat (1948) - featuring mice resembling Hubie as the Killer Mice
- Chow Hound (1951) - features a mouse resembling Bertie
- Mouse Warming (1952) - features a mouse resembling Hubie, cameo as one of the ACME Mover Co. movers men at the beginning
After the Golden Age
- Space Jam (1996)
- The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries
- Tweety's High-Flying Adventure (2000)
- Duck Dodgers
- New Looney Tunes
- Tedd Pierce: The Aristo-cat
- Stan Freberg: 1946 - 1951
- Bob Bergen: Space Jam
- Joe Alaskey: Duck Dodgers
- Jeff Bennett: The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, New Looney Tunes
- Michael Maltese: The Aristo-cat
- Dick Nelson: Roughly Squeaking
- Mel Blanc: 1948 - 1951
- Joe Alaskey: Duck Dodgers
- Jim Cummings: The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure
- Bob Bergen: Space Jam
- Jeff Bennett: New Looney Tunes
- Hubie and Bertie were mentioned by Speedy Gonzales in the book The Looney Tunes Treasury. Their names appear at the end of Speedy's biography, although they don't have pictures of themselves.
- Main article: Hubie and Bertie/Gallery