By Melissa Cannavo-Marino and Sara
One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Italy was to go to festivals with mamma and watch the spettacoli di marionette (marionette shows). One of the most famous marionettes (or pupo in Sicilian) is Pinocchio but there is another character born in 1958 who is just as famous today. Chi è? Who is it? His name is Topo Gigio!
Topo Gigio was the lead character for a children’s puppet show in Italy in the early 1960s. His creators, artist Maria Perego, her husband Federico Caldura, and another artist Guido Stagnaro, brought him to life in their disegni (drawings) and sogni (dreams). He had his first appearance on T.V. in 1959. This cute mouse’s name translates to Louie Mouse in English but everyone lo conoscono (knows him) as Topo Gigio!
He is a soft foam mouse with bright eyes and a friendly personality and has been featured in movies and has had guest appearances on many TV shows. One of the most famoso (famous) in the United States is the “Ed Sullivan Show.” He first appeared on Sept. 24, 1967, and was a frequent guest star. Ed loved him so much he made sure he was on the last show on June 6, 1971. He made 100 appearances on the show, getting on stage, and greeting Sullivan with his signature, “Hello, Eddie!” He ended his performances by singing to the host, “Eddie, kiss me goodnight!” He often asked Ed to tuck him into his little letto (bed).
Topo Gigio has captured the hearts of millions through books, children’s magazines, and animated cartoons. His character appealed not only to children, but also adults because he often talked about real-life problems that everyone could relate to.
Today, Topo Gigio still has many faithful fans and has become an icon of Italian pop culture. The character also had a starring role in two feature-length motion pictures,
“The Magic World of Topo Gigio” (1965) and “Topo Gigio and the Missile War” (1967) and a 2020 animated series of the same name.
He is particularly popular in South America and is the ambassador for Italy in Japan. He has over 4 million “likes” on Facebook. He is even the “spokes-mouse” for the United Nations!
If you haven’t yet met Topo Gigio I am sure you could find some of his shows to enjoy. È così carino! He is so cute!