May 19, 2003

Voice of Yogi Bear Writes Book

Contact: Lorie Kellogg (845) 647-9475


"Scenes For Actors and Voices" is a compilation of original scripts by Daws Butler, who spoke the words for most of the classic Hanna-Barbera characters: Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Elroy Jetson, and a hundred others. His significant work both as a writer and actor with Stan Freberg in the 1950s on "The Stan Freberg Show" and multi-million-selling records such as St. George and the Dragonet are still held in reverence today.

Edited by radio historian and author Ben Ohmart and veteran public radio producer Joe Bevilacqua, "Scenes For Actors and Voices" is comprised of rare never-before published material from a man known as some of animation's most beloved cartoon voices but who was also a prolific writer.

"Most people are unaware of this," laments Bevilacqua, who studied voice acting with Butler for 13 years, as part of Butler's Beverly Hills, California workshop. "Daws co-wrote the Dragonet spoofs and many other of Freberg's most successful records. He wrote for 'Time for Beany,' Bob Clampett's TV puppet feast which ran live five days a week for five years. And he wrote and voiced some of TV's funniest animated commercials."

In 1975, Daws Butler began an acting workshop from his audio studio/converted garage and soon after wrote hundreds of scenes for his students to perform.

Among Butler's many successful students were Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson and author of the L.A. Times best seller, My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy), and Corey Burton (Disney's Atlantis; Return to Neverland; Brainiac in the Superman/Justice League cartoons; the Old Navy 'logo voice'). Burton also wrote the book's insightful foreword.

Nancy Cartwright says the book is "a romp in a garden of characters. Each monologue, dialogue or scene study is a taste of some of the 'juicy fruits' that Daws left as his legacy. They fed me. They fed Corey Burton. They fed Joe Bevilacqua. And they fed dozens of other voice talent in Hollywood and beyond."

"More than a voice actor, Daws was an artist," explains Bevilacqua. "To him, playing a talking dog or bear was as real as playing Hamlet or Mac Beth. The techniques he taught are all represented in these scenes, which are not cartoony but realistic examples of human interaction."

Corey Burton adds, "His writing was purposely difficult to get a 'handle' on; carefully crafted to be open to a nearly infinite range of interpretation. A genuine exercise which actors must first struggle to decode, then apply great depth of imagination and creativity in a complex exploration of character and emotion, through a virtual rainbow of possibilities."

The book was a longtime dream of Butler, who died in 1988. With the cooperation of Butler's widow, Ohmart and Bevilacqua chose the best monologues, dialogues and exercises from hundreds of scripts found in file cabinets in the Butler family garage. They wrote introductions for each filled with the advice Butler gave his students during a typical workshop. The result is a scene book for anyone interested in improving how they use their voice. But actors, in particular, will find it as useful as a painter would find a life drawing class.

"Plus, it's a very entertaining read. 'Better than the average scene book,' as Yogi would say," concludes Bevilacqua.

Scenes For Actors and Voices focuses on one, two and three character scenes short enough for use in any acting class or audition. Future Daws Butler scene books are planned, and Ohmart and Bevilacqua are currently working on the authorized biography of the voice legend for publication Christmas 2004.

Scenes For Actors and Voices by Daws Butler

Hello, Joe-----Ben Ohmart had already sent me the info about this. Actually I would love to buy the book, but I have already bought Ben's book about Walter Tetley, and I need to cut back somewhere on my expenses. I am headed to Spain and Italy in January for a whole month.

Joe, my man, I am honored to hear from you. I have already read about your own book. I vaguely recall that you were a disk jockey at UT-Austin, and I live right here in Austin, TX.

I feel a certain affinity and fondness for you, since at age 14, Daws sent me a wonderful taped letter. I think he probably wrote at least three letters to me, between 1974 to 1983. There will always be a place in my heart for Daws Butler, and for you too.