Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 5, 2004
Term with its origin in the Spanish Civil War. General Emilio Mola, a pro-Franco, Nationalist general boasted that he had four columns of troops marching against Madrid, and a fifth column of sympathizers inside the city itself. The phrase was popularized in the U.S. by Ernest Hemingway, who wrote a play enitled Fifth Column about the war.
Aside from the title of Fifth Column Mouse (Freleng, 1943), the phrase is used, quite appropriately, in the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing gag in Foney Fables (Freleng, 1942). Porky Pig asks all Fifth Columnists to leave the theatre before a newsreel full of military secrets is shown in Meet John Doughboy (Clampett, 1941).