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Daws Butler (1976)

Butler in 1976

Daws Butler (born Charles Dawson Butler; November 16, 1916 – May 18, 1988) was a voice actor originally from Toledo, Ohio. He worked mostly for Hanna-Barbera and originated the voices of many famous animated cartoon characters, including Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, and Huckleberry Hound.

Daws Butler trained many working actors including Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) and Joe Bevilacqua (whom Daws personally taught how to do all of his characters). Butler's voice and scripts were a frequent part of Bevilacqua's now-defunct XM show.[1] Bevilacqua also wrote Butler's official biography, published by Bear Manor Media.[2] A new book of cartoon scripts written by Daws Butler and Joe Bevilacqua, Uncle Dunkle and Donnie: Fractured Fables, was scheduled for publication in the fall of 2009. A four-volume, 4½-hour audio set of Uncle Dunkle and Donnie was to be released simultaneously with Bevilacqua performing all 97 characters in 35 stories. Butler also trained Hal Rayle, who ultimately determined that his best-known character of Doyle Cleverlobe from Galaxy High School should sound like Elroy Jetson after he finished puberty.

Early life and careerEdit

His first voice work came in 1943 at MGM. Tex Avery hired Butler to provide narration work for several of his cartoons. In many cartoons, there was a nameless wolf who spoke in a Southern accent and whistled all the time. Butler provided the voice for this wolf. While at MGM, Avery wanted Butler to try to do the voice of Droopy Dog, a character that Bill Thompson regularly voiced. Butler performed the voice for a few cartoons, but he then told Avery about Don Messick, another voice actor and Butler's life-long friend. Messick quickly became a voice actor.

In 1949, Butler landed a role in a televised puppet show created by former Warner Brothers cartoon director Bob Clampett called Time for Beany. Thirty-three-year-old Butler was teamed up with 23-year-old Stan Freberg, and together they did all the voices of the puppets. Butler voiced Beany Boy and Captain Huffenpuff. Freberg voiced Cecil and Dishonest John. An entire stable of recurring characters were seen. The show's writers were Charles Shows and Lloyd Turner, whose dependably funny dialog was still always at the mercy of Butler's and Freberg's ad libs. Time for Beany ran from 1949 to 1954 and won several Emmy Awards. It was the basis for the cartoon Beany and Cecil.

Butler briefly turned his attention to TV commercials, although he quickly moved to providing the voice to many nameless Walter Lantz characters for theatrical shorts later seen on the Woody Woodpecker program. His notable character was the penguin "Chilly Willy" and his sidekick, the southern-speaking dog Smedley (the same voice used for Tex Avery's laid-back wolf character).

Also in the 1950s, Stan Freberg asked Butler to help him write comedy skits for his Capitol Records albums. Their first collaboration, "St. George and the Dragon-Net" (based on Dragnet), was the first comedy record to sell over one million copies. Freberg was more of a satirist who did song parodies, but the bulk of his "talking" routines were co-written by, and co-starred, Daws Butler. Butler also teamed up again with Freberg and cartoon actress June Foray in a short-lived network radio series, The Stan Freberg Show, which ran from July to October 1957 on the CBS Radio Network. Freberg's box-set, Tip of the Freberg (Rhino Entertainment, 1999) chronicles every aspect of Freberg's career except the cartoon voice-over work, and it showcases his career with Daws Butler.

In 1957, MGM closed their animation division, and producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera found themselves unemployed. They quickly formed their own company, and Daws Butler and Don Messick were on-hand to provide voices. The first, The Ruff & Reddy Show, set the formula for the rest of the series of cartoons that the two would helm until the mid 1960s.

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