Mammy Two Shoes: Cartoon Black History

by mitzimsa on February 17, 2014


Mammy Two Shoes: She’s a heavy-set middle-aged black women who puts up with Tom and Jerry’s mayhem. Mammy Two Shoes appeared in 18 episodes of the cartoon from 1935 – 1952.  The voice was forever present but all of her that was ever seen was her shoes, hence the name Mammy Two Shoes.  Lillian Randolph the original voice of Mammy Two Shoes was never credited in the on screen credits of the originals.

Mammy was portrayed as the maid of a house where there was no clue of the owners. Later it was suggested by dialog and behavior that she was the owner.  Still all that was seen where the shoes (Ugh).  It was said that Mammy Two Shoes face was deliberately hidden and that the lower half of her body was shown as not to distract attention from the main stars of the cartoon, Tom and Jerry.  There were instances that the chin of the black maid appeared, in the Episode “Part Time Pal” the last shot of the film showed Mammy Two Shoes far in the distance running after Tom but viewers were unable to see her features clearly.  In one episode it is revealed that Mammy wears a bandana (what a surprise considering that most black female cartoon characters of the era were portrayed in this manner). In the Episode “A Mouse in the House” you see the back of her head while checking in on the cats.  In return she gets her butt slapped with a frying pan and shovel by the cats.  Also in “A Mouse Cleaning” you’ll see her complete body in a shadow as she walks down the street wearing a hat with a flower.

th (7)In the 1950’s the Episode “Saturday Evening Puss” her whole body is shown including her face.  The only reason for her face being shown was…after a viewer saw the cartoon she inquired as to why the maids face was never shown.  In her inquiry she wrote “It gave me the impression that the operator in the booth must be having some sort of party, since every time the maid came on the screen the only thing I could see was her feet.  My curiosity is killing me. Before I go stark, raving mad, please tell me what she looks like.”  This inquiry promoted the studio to have an artist draw a special head of the maid to accompany the reply to the inquiry.  This was all explained by Fred Quimby in an article published in 1951 in The Hollywood Reporter.


In the early 50’s Mammy became a supporting character and was just as important as the main characters.  However she was also forced to retire due to the Supreme Court declaring racisms unconstitutional. This took a great affect on Hollywood movies and cartoons. The new law pressured MGM to reissue the cartoons with Mammy Two Shoes appearing in them.  Humm, that’s when the White Mammy Two-Shoes was created for CBS’s airing of these cartoons.   By taking the old animation artwork and retracing, repainting the original pencil animation and photographing it against recreated backgrounds BAM! the new White Mammy material replaced the original Black Mammy footage.  June Foray was brought in to redub the voice soundtracks  with an Irish accent, and that was a WRAP!  In the newer episodes with the caucasian Mammy, she’s explicitly called “Mrs. Two Shoes”, now that’s a kick in the pants!

Thanks to Turner some old original episodes have been aired on Cartoon Network.  Before airing, the episodes were redubbed with a black woman’s voice as well as correcting the grammar.  There’s been talk that the WB might release all of the Tom and Jerry cartoons on DVD. It would be nice to see and hear Lillian’s original work!


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