Butler'a 2004 biography.


Born: 1916 : : : Died: 1988
Job Description: Voice actor
Worked in: Animated cartoons
Noted for: Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and much, much more
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Without a doubt, Mel Blanc, whose most famous roles are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, was the best-known cartoon voice man in the world. But Daws Butler, who voiced Elroy Jetson, Cap'n Crunch, Chilly Willy and lots more, was easily second — and he came along after Blanc had already become identified with some of animation's biggest superstars. They were perhaps equally famous within the …

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… industry, and it's anybody's guess which was responsible for more individual characters. Blanc was the mainstay of Warner Bros. cartoons (tho Butler, among other things, did both male voices in The Honeymousers and, later, Merlin the Magic Mouse there) and Butler was most prolific at Hanna-Barbera (tho Blanc did their Barney Rubble, Sneezly Seal and more), but both were heard practically everywhere cartoons were animated. Butler did more work with limited animation, where the sound carried more of the humor than the pictures

Butler (born Nov. 16, 1916), got into show business during the 1930s, before he was drafted. After the war, he sought voice work in both radio and animation. His first cartoon role was the howl of the Wolf in a 1946 sequel to Red Hot Riding Hood, which Tex Avery did for MGM. Frank Graham (Fauntleroy Fox) did the speaking voice of the Wolf, but Butler was its howl. Neither received any screen credit.

But Butler stayed with the role of the Wolf, or at least voiced a similar-looking one that Avery used as a foil for Droopy. By the time MGM closed its animation department in the '50s, he was working for Walter Lantz's studio (Homer Pigeon), where, besides Chilly, he played Smedley Bear; UPA (Gerald McBoing-Boing), where he did the voice of Mr. Magoo's nephew; and Bob Clampett's (Coal Black) post-Warner studio. where he did Beany as both voice man and puppeteer. His Wolf voice became that of Huckeberry Hound. He also did TV commercials, where an early role was Kellog Cereals' Snap, of Snap, Crackle & Pop.

Butler was an expert at mimicking the voices of celebrities, which he'd alter for cartoon roles. Phil Silvers was the basis of his Hokey Wolf and the first Top Cat voices (tho in the latter role he was replaced by Arnold Stang (Herman Mouse)), while Bert Lahr was the template for Snagglepuss. Peter Potamus sounded like comedian Joe E. Brown, and Wally Gator like Ed Wynn (who had a minor voice career himself — he was The Mad Hatter in Disney's Alice in Wonderland). Yogi Bear was loosely based on Art Carney.

Quick Draw McGraw, Stutz of The Houndcats, Mildew Wolf, Yahooey, both Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har and Jay Ward's Aesop's son, are only a few of the roles he played during his long career. He also brought Don Messick, who played Ruff to his Reddy, into the cartoon voice business.

That career ended with a heart attack, on May 18, 1988.


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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Daws Butler estate.