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Garfield Devoured the Spotlight With ‘Here Comes Garfield’

Garfield Devoured the Spotlight With ‘Here Comes Garfield’

An orange cat with a hunger for lasagna and a hatred of Mondays made a big impression with his first primetime special, Here Comes Garfield, more than four decades ago. The lovably sarcastic feline, who returns to the big screen May 24 in Sony’s The Garfield Movie, was created by cartoonist Jim Davis. Garfield’s self-titled comic strip — featuring the cat giving guff to owner Jon Arbuckle and blissfully oblivious canine nemesis Odie — landed national syndication in 1978, followed by his first book, 1980’s Garfield at Large, topping the New York Times best-seller list.

While working on Here Comes Garfield, Davis struggled to make the cat stand up and dance, but got some assistance from his hero, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, who happened to be working in the same studio. “He started drawing over my drawing, saying, ‘The problem is, you’ve made Garfield’s feet too small,’ ” Davis once said in an interview. “So he got Garfield, like Snoopy, up off all fours, and Garfield’s been walking upright ever since.”

Singer Desirée Goyette co-wrote the project’s music, which featured her vocals alongside those of Lou Rawls, and she was also the model for Garfield’s dancing in the intro. Centering on Garfield and Odie getting nabbed by a dogcatcher, Here Comes Garfield marked Lorenzo Music’s debut as the lead voice (he would play Garfield for 19 years) and was directed by Phil Roman, who helmed several Peanuts specials. CBS aired it Oct. 25, 1982, and it was nominated for two Emmys. More specials followed, with TV series Garfield and Friends launching in 1988, as Garfield became the world’s most syndicated comic strip.

In The Garfield Movie, Chris Pratt leads a voice cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson as Garfield’s estranged dad and Nicholas Hoult as Jon. While performers such as Tom Smothers and Bill Murray (in the 2004 film Garfield: The Movie and its sequel) have voiced Garfield, Pratt explained in a recent interview that he didn’t try to mimic other versions: “I just needed to be present and be there, and I’m grateful.”

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This story first appeared in the May 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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