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Mighty Mouse Runs Into Trouble Off-Screen, Accused of Sniffing Coke

June 9, 1988

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Mighty Mouse, that cartoon superhero who always saves the day, has run into trouble off screen from a minister who says he spotted the rodent rescuer sniffing cocaine, an accusation CBS says is absurd.

″Mighty Mouse is down in the dumps and he reaches in his cape, pulls out a substance and sniffs it through his nostrils, and from that point on in the cartoon he is his normal self,″ said the Rev. Donald Wildmon, who heads the Tupelo-based American Family Association.

Wildmon claims that what Mighty Mouse sniffed in an April 23 episode was cocaine. CBS and the cartoon’s producer, Ralph Bakshi, say it clearly was crushed flowers.

The whole affair ″smacks of burning books and the Third Reich. It smacks of McCarthyism. I’m not going to get into who sniffs what,″ said Bakshi. ″This is lunacy.″

Wildmon’s organization has sponsored buying boycotts and other activities against businesses that sponsor what it sees as too much sex and violence on television and in magazines.

Now, Wildmon wants the resignations of Bakshi, an animator best known for the risque ‴Fritz the Cat″ cartoon in the 1970s, and Judy Parker, CBS television’s vice president for children’s programming.

CBS on Thursday released a two-page letter to Wildmon from George Dessard, vice president of program practices, in which he accused the Methodist minister of taking ″three seconds of air time ... out of context and made (it) the subject of a fanciful and irresponsible misrepresentat ion.″

Dessard said the substance was clearly crushed flowers.

″CBS categorically denies that Mighty Mouse or any other character was shown sniffing cocaine,″ the network official said.

He said that in the episode ″The Littlest Tramp,″ Mighty Mouse ″who is after all a mouse, is clearly established as enjoying aromas, whether of strong cheese or of flowers. The principal story line revolves around Mighty Mouse’s efforts to assist Polly, ’a poor but industrious flower seller.‴

During the cartoon, the villain repeatedly destroys Polly’s flowers and she is forced to make substitute flowers using fallen leaves, strawberries and ″even wedges of over-ripened tomatoes.″

He said Mighty Mouse is shown collecting and saving the fake flowers and ″later, when a speaker at a service-oriented lodge meeting of ants talks of wanting to help ‘those less fortunate,’ Mighty Mouse announces that phrase reminds him of someone else and pulls out a pink mass of crushed stems, tomatoes and flowers, which he holds out as if to show them.

″We see the aroma reach his nose in typical cartoon fashion as the scene changes to another story event,″ Dessard said. ″There is no ‘powder.’ He is neither shown to be nor described as ‘rejected or down in the dumps’ before he brings out the remains of the flowers.″

Wildmon said that while the cartoon did bring in cheese and flowers, ″in my mind and in the mind of anyone who watches that cartoon, it’s cocaine.″

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