Maw & Paw, from the title card to one of their cartoons.


Medium: Theatrical Animation
Released by: Universal (Walter Lantz)
First Appeared: 1953
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Walter Lantz will always be remembered for Woody Woodpecker, Chilly Willy, Andy Panda … even Space Mouse

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… isn't too thoroughly forgotten. But his studio was also responsible for Sugarfoot, Maggie & Sam, The Beary Family, and any number of other toons that will never be prominent stops on Memory Lane for very many people. Maw & Paw, who came out when the studio's best years were behind it, were typical of the unmemorable characters the Lantz studio was turning out during the 1950s.

The first entry in the series, titled simply Maw & Paw, was released August 10, 1953. It was directed by Paul J. Smith, who handled the majority of Lantz's releases during the studio's last couple of decades. Maw and Paw themselves were clearly based on the Ma & Pa Kettle movies, starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride, which were a going concern for Universal Studios at the time. (Universal was also the studio that released the Lantz cartoons.)

Also introduced in that cartoon were between a dozen and half again as many of their children, who ranged from diapers to the age where parents typically start muttering about getting jobs and moving out. All were every bit as stupid as Maw and Paw themselves, whose lack of intelligence, which by implication appeared to be a comment on rural America in general, was more insulting than funny. The smart one was their pig, Milford.

Maw's voice was done by Lantz's wife, Grace Stafford, who also did the speaking for Woody. Paw was Dal McKennon, who did Homer Pigeon, Inspector Willoughby and Buzz Buzzard for Lantz, and for other studios, did Gumby and Courageous Cat.

Maw & Paw never made it into comic books, Big Little Books or any other media, nor did they become toy sensations. After five cartoons, all directed by Smith (the last, "Paw's Night Out", was released August 1, 1955), they were dropped.


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Text ©2004-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Walter Lantz Studio.