Joseph "Joe" Oriolo (February 21, 1913, Union City, New Jersey – December 25, 1985) was an American cartoon animator, writer, director and producer, known as the co-creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost and the creator of the Felix the Cat TV series.
Joe Oriolo was born in Union City, New Jersey in 1913. As a child, he drew constantly and dreamed of becoming a cartoon animator. He was a graduate of Union Hill High School and The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in NYC.
In 1933, at age 20, he went to work for Fleischer Studios as an errand boy, where his talent as a draftsman and his ambitions advanced him to the position of an animator within one year. During the late 1930s he worked on a number of studio shorts, and when the studio moved to Miami in 1938 he went with it. There, in addition to the shorts, he worked on both of the studio's feature-length films, Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes to Town, as well as the two-reel Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy. While at Fleischer Studios, Joe also worked on the popular Popeye films. In fact, most of the Popeye dance sequences and fight scenes were given to Joe to animate because he was well known at the studio for being a talented dancer and quite an accomplished boxer. Joe also did extensive work on the Fleischer Studios fantastic Superman series, where he designed most of the props and vehicles that appeared in the show as well as most of the Superman character animation.
In 1939, he co-created the character of Casper the Friendly Ghost for two children's books. Casper went on to become one of the most popular animated characters of all time.
After leaving Famous Studios, Oriolo began working as a freelance animator on films for the armed forces and industrial films, as well as some of the earliest TV commercials. He also produced hundreds of filmstrips for Popular Science Magazine. He began drawing comic books and worked with Otto Messmer on the Felix the Cat comic books until they ceased publication. In 1954, Oriolo assumed authorship of the separate Felix daily newspaper comic strips at the request of King Features Syndicate, which he continued to produce until 1969.
In 1958, Joe formed Felix the Cat Productions, Inc. and created the pilot show for the award-winning Felix the Cat television series. 260 Felix shorts were made for television syndication in 1960. Joe created a new Felix with a new image, personality and supporting cast of characters, including The Magic Bag of Tricks, which is constantly referenced in American media to this very day. Joe continued to market his beloved Felix The Cat to the world right up until his death in 1985. Joe also produced 130 Mighty Hercules films that debuted on television in 1963.
Joe was happily married to his lovely wife Dorothy, and had 3 children, Joan, Joseph and Donald. When not at his drawing table, Joe enjoyed coaching little league, golfing and bowling. A resident of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, Oriolo died at the age of 72 at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey.