Tom and Jerry are fictional characters that starred in a series of early sound cartoons produced by the Van Beuren Studios, and distributed by RKO Pictures. The series lasted from 1931 to 1933. When Official Films purchased the Van Beuren library in the 1950s, the characters were renamed Dick and Larry to avoid confusion with Tom and Jerry, the famous MGM cartoon series of the '40s and '50s. Today, animation historians refer to the characters as Van Beuren's Tom and Jerry. Today, all of these cartoons are in the public domain.
Joseph Barbera began his career as an animator and storyman on this series. In 1940, Barbera co-created with William Hanna another duo of cartoon characters using the same names: a cat and mouse named Tom and Jerry.