Joe Harris, the illustrator who created the cartoon characters Underdog and the Trix cereal rabbit, died on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at his home in Stamford, CT. He was 89.
In the 1950’s, Harris worked at the advertising firm of Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. His job was to draw cartoon mascots and storyboards to sell products like Bounty paper towels and General Mills cereals. It was in the late 50’s when Harris drew a long-eared white cartoon rabbit to sell Trix cereal. He also wrote the ad copy, including the line “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids”.
Harris later worked for Total TeleVision, a company that produced Saturday morning cartoons. Mr. Harris drew storyboards and designed characters like Klondike Kat, Tennessee Tuxedo, and Underdog. Underdog debuted in 1964 and was a hit. Harris helped turn the character into a balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade the following next year.
Harris is survived by three daughters, a stepbrother, and three grandchildren.
Here is the very first Trix the Rabbit commercial…
And here is the the opening for the cartoon “Underdog”…
Here is some “Underdog” trivia for you…When the series was syndicated in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the scenes of him taking his energy pill were edited out. There was a fear that children would get the idea that it was OK to take pills if they saw Underdog taking his “energy” pill out of the secret compartment in his ring. In the recent release, “Underdog: The Ultimate Collection”, the word “energy” was replaced with “vitamin”.
Photo: YouTube/Soba Bear