Casper: The Friendly Ghost debuted its first theatrical cartoon short on November 16, 1945 with the simplistic and appropriately titled The Friendly Ghost. At the time of the cartoons premiere there was no specific mention of Casper in the title credits and it was apparently unclear to those involved in the short that a real series of some importance to youth had thereby begun. Casper would go on to have an impressive run consisting of 55 theatrical cartoon short films (the last of which, Casper's Birthday Party, was released on July 31st, 1959) and eventually several television shorts. The Casper: The Friendly Ghost Complete Collection DVD release contains each of those theatrical animated shorts and the newly-produced (at the time) shorts which were featured on the New Casper Cartoon Show (a total of 26 additional cartoons were produced for the television series).
Casper The Friendly Ghost is arguably one of the most beloved animated programs from the early 1950's. The cartoons were simplistic in approach to storytelling (a common approach in many cartoons of the period) but each theatrical short also featured a good theme that elevated the material. The main goal of these cartoons seemed to be to bring audiences a important message of providing friendship, compassion, understanding, and acceptance to others. The early Casper cartoons encouraged youth to reconsider their own personal fears, to accept those who might be different from themselves, and to learn how to recognize and accept the differences of individuality in themselves as well.
These cartoons remain important today because of the clear messages that were conveyed, and also for the fact that the Casper cartoons proved to be entertaining in a unique way in both the approach taken in covering the fundamentals of cartoon-making and as a general sensibility or style. The illustrations were often harmonious in a pleasant and friendly way. The central character exhibited qualities that are still commendable and notably important.