Casper the Friendly Ghost is a fictional ghost character created in 1939. Unlike other ghosts, he has no interest in scaring people. Instead, he tries to befriend every person and animal that he meets. Unfortunately for Casper, most other characters that he encounters run away in terror as soon as they see him.
Casper made his first animated cartoon appearance in 1945 and went on to star in several series of theatrical and television cartoons and a long running comic book title. A movie based around the character, combining live action and computer animation, was released in 1995 which spawned a number of sequels.
Casper the Friendly Ghost was created for a 1939 children's book written by Seymour Reit and illustrated by Joe Oriolo. Rights to the book were sold to Paramount Pictures who adapted it into an animated short, called The Friendly Ghost, which was released in the United States on November 16, 1945. In The Friendly Ghost, Casper has grown tired of scaring people and wants to be friendly instead. He runs away from home and meets a series of animals who all flee from him in fear. Eventually, he befriends two children. Their mother is initially scared of Casper but grows to like him when he frightens away her greedy landlord. Two sequels followed; There's Good Boos Tonight (1948) and A Haunting We Will Go (1949).
In 1950 Casper was given his own series of theatrical cartoons which ran until 1959. The plot of each cartoon typically featured Casper approaching several people or animals, with the intention of becoming their friend, but each of them running away from him in fright. Eventually, Casper finds someone who is willing to be his friend, usually a cute child or cute animal. Casper saves his new friend from some kind of danger and, as a result, becomes accepted by the characters who had been afraid of him before.
Casper first appeared in comic books published by St. John Publishing in 1949. The series was taken over by Harvey Comics in 1952 and was continually published until 1982. The supporting characters The Ghostly Trio, Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, Spooky's girlfriend Poil and Wendy the Good Little Witch were all first introduced in the comic books and later made the transition to animation when new Casper cartoons were made for television.
Twenty-six new Casper cartoons were created for The New Casper Cartoon Show which ran on ABC between 1963 and 1969. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon series Casper and the Angels ran on ABC between 1979 and 1980. The series was set in outer space in the year 2179 and saw Casper and another ghost called Hairy Scary working for the police. Two holiday specials which featured Casper and Hairy Scary were made, Casper's Halloween Special, first shown on October 30, 1979, and Casper's First Christmas, first shown on December 19, 1979.
In 1995 the movie Casper, which combined live action and computer generated animation, was released. Following the movie, a new cartoon series, The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, was made which ran on NBC between February 1996 and October 1998. Two live action direct-to-video sequels to Casper were made; Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997) and Casper Meets Wendy (1998), in which Hilary Duff played the good little witch. Two more direct-to-video sequels which were entirely computer generated were made; Casper's Haunted Christmas (2000) and Casper's Scare School (2006).