The Quick 10: 10 Mad Hatters
You may have already heard that Johnny Depp's surprise appearance to promote Alice in Wonderland at ComicCon has been the talk of the convention (video at the bottom of the story, if you haven't seen it). As a big fan of Burton/Depp collaborations, I have to say, I'm pretty amped to see the movie. But Depp is hardly the first to play the crazy chapeau creator - here are 10 other portrayals of the man who have donned the 10/6 Hat and asked "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
1. Theophilus Carter, maybe. He's one of the men speculated to have inspired Lewis Carroll's original Hatter. He does seem slightly eccentric - he invented an alarm clock that he exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London; at the designated time, the alarm clock tipped the sleeper out into a tub of cold water. After that he turned his attentions to furniture and cabinetry and operated a store on Oxford Street for nearly 20 years. It was here that he developed the habit of standing in the doorway with his top hat on, which is turn is said to have inspired Mr. Carroll. There's never been any proof, although many who knew the man said the John Tenniel engravings in the original book were near-perfect likenesses of Carter.
2. Ed Wynn. Wynn voiced the Mad Hatter for the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland. You might recognize him from some of his other famous roles, though, including a couple of very memorable Twilight Zone episodes and as giggly Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. The voice Wynn used for the Mad Hatter and other similar characters was called "The Perfect Fool" and has been much imitated ever since - ever notice that Wally Gator sounds suspiciously like the lispy, sputtering Hatter? That's because Daws Butler was doing an impression of Ed Wynn.
3. David Wayne. Wayne portrayed a disturbed genius named Jervis Tetch in the old Batman series (Tetch was in the comic books too, of course). His weapon of choice? His top hat, of course - when he took it off of his head, a set of hypnotic eyes appeared that would shoot a mind-controlling beam at the person staring into them.
4. Andrew Chaikin. In American McGee's Alice, a super-creepy computer game I own but haven't found the time to play (dangit), the Mad Hatter has completely and totally lost whatever shred of sanity he had previously been clinging to. He's now a mad scientist and has transformed the March Hare and the Dormouse into half-animal, half-robotic beings with gears and clockwork pieces sticking out of their bodies. We eventually find out that he has made himself into a cyborg as well. Chaikin provided the voice for this tall, thin, green version of the Hatter.
5. Martin Short. In a 1999 made-for-T.V. movie, the SCTV alum took over the famous role. His head was digitally enhanced to appear about three times bigger than normal so his portrayal would match Tenniel's illustrations. The rest of the cast included Tina Majorino as Alice, Whoopi Goldberg as the Cheshire Cat (her head and voice, anyway "“ the rest was puppetry and CGI), Robbie Coltrane as Tweedledum, George Wendt as Tweedledee, Gene Wilder as the Mock Turtle and Miranda Richardson as the Queen of Hearts.
6. Anthony Newley. In another made-for-T.V. movie, this one from 1985, British singer and actor Anthony Newley stepped into the top hat. If you think the 1999 version was star-studded, check out this one:
"¢ Red Buttons as the White Rabbit
"¢ Sherman Hemsley as the mouse
"¢ Shelley Winters as the Dodo Bird
"¢ Scott Baio as the Pig
"¢ Sammy Davis, Jr., as the Caterpillar
"¢ Imogene Coca as the Cook
"¢ Telly Savalas as the Cheshire Cat
"¢ Roddy McDowall as the March Hare
"¢ Arte Johnson as the Dormouse
"¢ Jayne Meadows as the Queen of Hearts
"¢ Sid Caesar as the Gryphon
"¢ Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle
"¢ Harvey Korman as the White King
"¢ Carol Channing as the White Queen
"¢ Merv Griffin as the conductor
"¢ Ann Jillian as the Red Queen
"¢ Pat Morita as the Horse
"¢ John Stamos as the messenger
"¢ Jonathan Winters as Humpty Dumpty
I think I just might have to add that one to the Netflix queue!
7. Tom Petty. The video for "Don't Come Around Here No More" came out in 1985, but it must have been in somewhat regular rotation in the early "˜90s when I was really into VH1 and MTV, because that video terrified me. I can't embed it, but you can check it out here to see how it might have given a little girl the willies. I think what really did the trick is when Alice somehow turns into a cake and they slice her up and eat her alive (3:58 or so, if you don't want to watch the rest of it). I guess I wasn't the only one who was disturbed "“ people protested because they thought the ending was glorifying violence against women, and as a result, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers filmed a different ending. Either way, Tom Petty was a pretty good Mad Hatter.
8. Edward Everett Horton's portrayal of the Hatter goes all the way back to 1933. His trademark was his quavering voice and fretful personality, so he was a natural choice for the character. The film was expected to be a smash hit at the box office "“ the lineup was full of stars and they released it just a year after what would have been Lewis Carroll's 100th birthday, but, sadly, it was a flop. Studio execs later decided that the reason the movie did so badly is because all of its top-tier celebrities were so obscured under tons of makeup and elaborate costumes. Although you may not know Horton's name, you've probably seen or heard him somewhere "“ he has been in everything from I Love Lucy to Rocky and Bullwinkle (he was the narrator for "Fractured Fairy Tales") to F Troop to Batman.
9. Steven Tyler is another rocker who picked up the top hat for a music video. For Aerosmith's 2001 song "Sunshine" from the Just Push Play album, Tyler plays a jewel-toned, cracked-out Hatter with an affinity for Siouxsie Sioux's eye makeup. And if it seems like this is a strange choice for a song called "Sunshine," consider that LSD is sometimes referred to as such.
10. Sir Robert Helpmann played the Mad Hatter in the 1972 musical version of Alice. Helpmann had been a staple on Broadway and in various dance tours (including Anna Pavlova's troupe) for decades; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland came kind of in the twilight of his career. In this particular production, Michael Crawford played the White Rabbit, Peter Sellers was the March Hare and Dudley Moore was the Dormouse (kind of perfect, don't you think?)
And, as promised, the video of Johnny's surprise visit to ComicCon: