Cartoonist Winsor McCay's Gertie is widely considered to be the first cartoon character with a personality. Gertie was in fact part of a live vaudeville show, in which McCay would interact with her, and eventually step inside the frame for a ride on her back. In this excerpt from the silent short film, he performs for fellow cartoonists who have bet him that he can't bring a dinosaur to life. 

To watch this film in its entirety, visit the Internet Archive. Winsor McCay's first animated film can be seen here