Have you ever wondered where the Woody wacky voice came from? If not, then you’re not alone. The Woody Woodpecker cartoon character has appeared in films and comic books. Here’s a little bit about the man behind the voice: Ben Hardaway. He actually worked with Schlesinger at Warner Bros. and also designed a Bugs Bunny prototype. Ben Hardaway’s nickname was Bugs, so the character was originally called Bugs’ Bunny. The apostrophe was eventually dropped.
Woody Woodpecker’s screwball antics
In his early years, Woody resembled your typical screwball character with a pronounced chin, big feet and funny teeth. His antics were a bit out of control, but the characters always managed to outwit and frustrate their foes. Even though he sometimes appeared as the villain, he was generally smart and adaptable. The screwball antics of Woody have inspired many different types of animated characters.
In one cartoon, Woody is disguised as Miss Kitty, an expy. When he accidentally reveals his leg, the stagecoach driver pulls up and invites him on free! Another story involves a swarm of Alien Locusts, which eat anything from food to adhesive tape. His screwball antics make him a beloved character. There are many more stories about Woody and his screwball antics.
The series continued to make a fortune, and the character remained Lantz’s most popular character, succeeding in comics, television, and merchandising. His first appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade occurred in 1982. In 1985, the series was sold to Universal/MCA. Universal repackaged the majority of Lantz’s shorts for television syndication. Woody later made an appearance in a major motion picture, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The series began with the original Dippy Diplomat and Banquet Busters, which were both animated by Emery Hawkins. Both of these cartoons relied on pantomime and music to guide the characters. Woody is portrayed as Chico in Musical Moments From Chopin, which was an instant hit with audiences. The series also earned the Lantz studio its eighth Academy Award nomination.
Mel Blanc is best known for his voice role in the classic children’s cartoon, “Knock Knock.” This series starred Mel Blanc as the crazy Cloud Cuckoolander, although Woody was later portrayed as a more anti-hero and aggressive heckler. In the series, Woody and his friends also fought the wolf, Splinter, and the feisty owl, Knothead.
Kent Rogers imitated the Great Gildersleeve radio character, which aired every week from 1941 to 1958. His voice was perfect for the role and the character. Kent Rogers did not only do the Woody voice in the series, but also the cop and other roles in the show, as well as “Ouches.” In the original cartoon, Tex Avery voiced the catcher.
The first Woody Woodpecker cartoon was released in 1950. It was directed by Frank McMurray. Mel Blanc also voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, so he had experience with voice acting. However, after the first four episodes, Ben Hardaway was cast as the new Woody. The movie received a high rating on IMDB. It is currently available on DVD. The film also features a panel of guests, including Phil Roman, an old-school Disney animator. Other notable guests include Gabby Gator, the voice of which can be heard in the first episode of the movie, “Everglade Raid”. Among the other voices that appeared in this series were Winnie Woodpecker, Splinter, and Knothead.
Lionel Stander was another actor who lent his voice to the Woody character. Stander had a characteristic flat voice and was a self-proclaimed left-winger. In fact, he was once the target of HUAC, a government agency that hunted Hollywood subversives. Stander’s ex-wife worked for Walter Lantz, who was a director. He was hired by Lantz for the role of Buzz Buzzard, after Stander had already performed the role in Fish Fry.
While a new character for Woody was created for the series, Lantz still needed a voice for the cartoon. His wife, Gracie, secretly taped an audition tape for the character. She had no idea that the voice she was heard was hers. Lantz’s wife Gracie, who acted in films in the 1930s and 1940s, was unaware of her role as Woody’s voice. However, she opted to decline screen credit, thinking that the children would be disappointed if their beloved Woody had a woman’s voice.
His appearance in comic books
Since his first appearance in comic books in 1942, Woody has been one of the most popular Cartoon Superstars. His cartoons have appeared on video games, comic books, telephones, books, and even masquerade costumes. His 75-foot balloon has been a fixture of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Lantz has also featured the character in Happy Art oil paintings. In addition to being a beloved cartoon character, Woody has also appeared in comic books and on oil paintings.
The first appearance of Woody Woodpecker came in the Andy Panda cartoon, “Knock Knock.” In this short, the nameless bird drives Andy Panda mad and eventually becomes a star. His cartoons were such a hit that more than one comic book character appeared in them. The next Woody Woodpecker cartoon appearance was in the comic book “The Cracked Nut”, which followed his first TV appearance. The story follows a community crackpot, who visits a psychologist and meets a Scottish Fox doctor.
In comic books, Woody is often seen in humorous situations. His most famous story involves a train that Woody pulls out of a hole. But Woody is not attached to his dress, so he falls into a hole while carrying a train. In a later story, he tries to kill Buzz Buzzard to collect insurance, but the incident turns out to be an accident.
After his original run in 1951, Lantz Studios changed directors to Don Patterson and LaVerne Harding. The new director changed Woody’s crest and made him smaller. The Lantz Studios logo still shows Woody’s topknot, which was originally red. In addition, in 1955’s “The Tree Medic”, the character’s eye was black instead of the green/hazel.
Later on, the character gained a Scottish accent. Woody is often seen playing the bagpipes, wearing kilts, and even adopting a Scottish accent. In addition, Woody often adopts Hal 9000’s persona and quotes him frequently. Winnie also sports a skirt and her hair is bent forward. Woody’s cartoon appearance in comic books went through several redesigns over the years.
His appearance in films
While there are very few features starring Woody, the character did make an appearance in several of them. In the 1950’s DESTINATION MOON, Woody enlightened viewers about rocket propulsion. The appearance was later recreated in the HBO mini-series, “From the Earth to the Moon.” In 1988, Woody joined the list of cartoon icons who have made a cameo appearance in films. In WHO FRAMMED ROGER RABBIT, Woody made a cameo near the end.
The film Moose eats Woody, and they often fight, often over a piece of moose meat. In one movie, Woody tries to kill a moose but fails, and the cat eventually wins, saving the day. In another, Woody is forced to take the worst seat in a baseball stadium. However, the seats were all taken. In a subsequent film, Dooley tries to steal Woody’s seat.
The character has gone through a number of changes during the years. Lantz, who had been absent for years, returned to directing the Woody shorts in the 1950s. Destination Moon, which featured a segment where Woody explains how rockets work, was a prime example of this. His voice has been sung by Lantz’s wife Grace Stafford, who re-wrote the script for the film. After Mel Blanc lost a court case, Lantz opted to have Grace Stafford supply the laugh for Woody.
In the early shorts, Woody was often a victim of comeuppance. In The Screwdriver, he was rescued from a wolf by a cat, but he later had a rematch with him in the film’s final sequence. Woody also appears in two films in which the cat and the wolf clash. Woody was eventually able to win the fight, and he was even given his own TV show, “Pantry Panic.”
Following the success of his first appearance in the movies, Woody also appeared in comic books. His first appearance was in Dell’s New Funnies, which were comic strips starring Lantz characters. In 1947, Dell dedicated a few issues of Four Color Comics to the character. The comics remained in print until the 1980s. In 1987, Woody made his film debut in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.