THE WORLD OF COMMANDER MCBRAGGMedium: Television animation
Produced by: Leonardo Productions
First Appeared: 1963
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media: distinguished and elderly, with a booming voice that's hard to ignore, and utterly oblivious of clear signs of boredom displayed by his audience, as he drones on with wildly improbable stories of his adventurous youth. So familiar has this character become, author P.G. Wodehouse placed one in a club devoted to the game of golf, whose hair-raising adventures all revolved around that otherwise relatively non-dangerous pursuit.
It isn't surprising he found his way into the toon world. In fact, he formed the basis of Col. Heeza Liar, the very first animated character to achieve commercial success. A half-century later, he turned up again in that medium, as Commander McBragg. It's said McBragg was modeled after character actor C. Aubrey Smith, but Smith was actually carrying on a much older tradition.
"The World of Commander McBragg" was one of several minor segments of Tennesee Tuxedo & His Tales, a Saturday morning half-hour that debuted September 28, 1963, on CBS. The producer was Leonardo Productions, which had been called Total Television before re-naming itself after its first big-name toon, King Leonardo. McBragg's series was one of several that appeared in rotation in the two available slots backing up the lead segment, Tennessee Tuxedo's own. Others in the rotation were The Hunter (a retread from Leonardo's show), Tooter Turtle (same), King Leonardo himself, and Klondike Kat (the only one besides McBragg who hadn't been seen before).
McBragg's voice was, needless to say, both irritating and penetrating — much like that of Foghorn Leghorn, and with good reason. Mel Blanc patterned Foggy's voice after that of Senator Beauregard Claghorn, from Fred Allen's old radio show; and the actor who played Claghorn, Kenny Delmar, also played Commander McBragg. Other than characters appearing on the Tennessee Tuxedo show, the mostly-radio actor's toon credits are sparse. But they do include the narrator's role in The Beagles (a later, and very obscure, production from the same studio) and Col. Kit Coyote in Go Go Gophers (also from Leonardo Productions, and only slightly less obscure).
Most of these minor segments, McBragg included, turned up several years later, backing up Underdog. In addition, McBragg was lent out to another TV animation studio, that of Jay Ward, for use as one of the back segments in Hoppity Hooper.
Commander McBragg was strictly a back segment guy. He never made it as a merchandising phenomenon, in other media, or as a star of any kind. Like many obscure old toons, he's made a guest appearance or two on The Simpsons, but otherwise, for the past three decades or so, he's seldom been seen.