For some time, October 6th or “10/6” has been celebrated as “Mad Hatter Day” since 10/6 is part of the inscription on the sales tag tucked into the character’s hat in many traditional depictions and illustrations of this character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The original meaning of “In This Style 10/6” was literally an advertisement of the cost of a hat of that design made by a hat-maker – ten shillings and sixpence.
So in honor of this mad occasion, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite performances of the Mad Hatter!
5) Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, 2010)
- This version inherits Johnny Depp’s special brand of madness, being another in a string of Tim Burton’s lost, lonely, longing boys (including Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Ichabod Crane, Sweeney Todd, and Barnabas Collins). They’re all variations on a theme, made appealing by Depp’s projected vulnerability. While the shtick didn’t work quite as well in the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, his sweet, innocent, mad sorrow still charms in the first film under the direction of Depp’s artistic soulmate, Burton.
4) Mad Hatter (Ed Wynn – voice character, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, 1951)
- Don’t let’s be silly! One of Walt Disney’s favorite actors to work with provided not just the voice of the Mad Hatter, but also the visual reference for the animators, as well as some improvised dialogue. His comic instincts and the actor’s lisp helped define the resulting character onscreen. Charming, delightful and of course, mad as a hatter, he was the one I wanted to dance around a tea party table with as a child. But I would not trust him to fix my watch!
3) Mad Hatter (Andrew Lee Potts, Alice – SyFy Channel, 2009)
- A snarky, sneaky con man, this modern stylized interpretation of the character appeared in the SyFy miniseries retelling of the tale of Alice roaming through a wild and unpredictable Wonderland. Here he proves a capable and worthy romantic interest for Alice, once their initial distrust can be overcome. I’m a huge fan of Potts’ from his other work and he continued to impress in this role, too.
2) Jefferson (Sebastian Stan, Once Upon a Time, 2012)
- Tragic, emo, sad and beautiful; this loving father driven mad by grief seemingly found his happy ending once reunited with his lost daughter. And yet… maybe it’s wishful thinking, but his story still seems unfinished and the promise and potential of his character unfulfilled. So while I was thrilled to gain Stan’s Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier as a regular character in the MCU, his success there took away his time to recur on the show. Yet I still hold out hope he will return someday – if only to make sure his happy ending with his daughter stayed happy!
1) Mad Hatter (Mad T Party, Disney California Adventure, 2012-2016)
- Probably no surprise to anyone who has been reading this site for a while, but the Hatter I’ve spent the most hours enjoying was the host of The Mad T Party at Disney California Adventure. Depending on the day, he could be cool, hot, happy, energetic and more. A variation on the visuals of Burton’s Hatter, this one rocked Wonderland and made sure his guests were constantly entertained. It’s likely this Hatter is my favorite because he was the one I spent so much time with down the rabbit hole, but I don’t think I’ll ever find another I would love more. Thank you, dear Hatter, for all of your madness and muchness and music!
I am, of course, wearing Mad Hatter gear including a Wonderland-themed hat and shirt to celebrate today. And perhaps I’ll have a cup of tea. How about you?
Do you have a favorite take on the Mad Hatter character? Or are you still waiting for someone to capture the spirit of the literary incarnation?