Random Thoughts in 2004

February 12, 2004

Daws Butler:

I’m so glad, that in Jay Ward’s last cartoon series, George of the Jungle, that Daws was featured in all the segments of that show. Butler was such a fine voice magician that I always regretted that Fractured Fairy Tales and Aesop and Son were the only segments that he took part in, for the Rocky and Bullwinkle shows.

I would have loved to have heard Daws’ voice in some of the episodes with Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris and Natasha…….or with Dudley Do-Right or Peabody and Sherman. In my humble opinion, he had the best voice characterizations of anyone around, on that show (though I know that many will be quick to disagree with me).

And sure enough, Daws was not used on even one single solitary episode of any of the other R & B side shows……NOT ONE. Sadly, he was also often not even the star of many of the Fairy Tale and Aesop segments that showcased his talents (he was the star A LOT, but there were plenty of times when Bill Scott got the plum roles from those tales).

When you come right down to it, all of this may have been Daws’ choice. In the late 50s and early 60s, he was like the Mel Blanc of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Had it not been for his frequent side kick, Don Messick, Daws would have often been the lone voice man for Hanna-Barbera (at least during the late 1950s for sure). So, in essence, Daws was probably so incredibly busy, that he was lucky to be able to do the voice work that he did for Jay Ward. I will admit, that I was always amazed that he managed to work for both Animation Giants at the same time.

June Foray:

Though legendary June Foray has certainly (and understandably) earned the right to scale back a bit, in her voice work, I really miss the years when I was entertained by new June Foray projects all the time. It was fun, never knowing when I would hear her voice in a brand new movie (or on any given cartoon show). I know that June has actually had a few film credits for the year 2003. But I could still take quite a bit more of a dosage of her. It would be great if she had a new TV series at this time.

A lot of folks know that June played a telephone operator, in the live action classic comedy TV series, Green Acres, back in 1967. Quite a few others know that she played a hindu high priestes in the 1954 movie, Sabaka. But I dare say that few folks know that one of her very last movies, as a physical, on-camera actress, was in the 1966 TV movie,
Death of a Salesman. At this writing, I have not seen that film. It would be wonderful to see her, in this class from American Literature!

I think sometimes that voice actors tend to be lionized, a lot more than voice actresses, simply because many of them seem to have a lot more versatility in what they can do. Paul Frees would not necessarily be an example of this. Daws Butler, however, would. Daws had the capability to do cute little boy voices, and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum he could do a mean, rough voice, which was a variation of Jackie Gleason’s voice. In between those extremes he could do all other sorts of voices.

Along with all that, just as in Hollywood’s movies, many times the best parts, in a cartoon’s script, go to male the characters. That can’t be said with every single story line, of course, but with many, yes that is true.

In June’s defense, however, one thing that she, and other very fine voice actresses have, is the ability to do genuine children’s voices. Even Daws’ best kids voices were clearly not true kids voices. Most people could tell that they were being done by a man. The most successful voice actors have done either a caricature, of what a kid’s voice sounds like, or an extremely pitiful falsetto voice. Unless you point to a couple exceptions (like Walter Tetley and Dick Beals, who had the uncanny exceptional ability to talk like a boy),
most male voice artists don’t come close to touching June’s ability to imitate a child.

Along with her juvenile ensemble, some of Foray’s other charicterizations are truly worthy of being trumpeted from the heavens:

  1. Classic Witch Voices
  2. Old Lady Voices
  3. Russian Voices (namely Natasha)
  4. Hags/Jaded Women/Mothers-In-Law
  5. Sweet Damsels in Distress

If you ever get the chance to view/hear the Fractured Fairy Tale, “Sleeping Beautyland”, from The Bullwinkle Show, June holds her own ground, with equal footing, with Daws Butler, in that very funny tale. She also holds her own, very well, with Daws (if not even better), in another Fractured Fairy Tale about “Rapunzel”. Such a knack she had to bring all the very best Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales to life, with excellent class and charm.

Finally, here was a really neat cartoon that June did for Warners Brothers:

Really Scent (1959) (uncredited) (voice) …. Narrator

In this cartoon she was the Narrator for the entire story, which was about Love in France; much of the story took place in the French countryside, with that skunk character, Pepe le Pew (Hence the name, “Really Scent “).

Anyway, I have seen quite a few of those Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Usually if there was a Narrator, it was Mel Blanc. I remember a couple times when Daws Butler narrated, uncredited. It was a wonderful, charming touch to have June, speaking in a sweet, pretty feminine FRENCH ACCENT, during that story. It was also a nice change——especially when touching on a topic about one of the finer things in life: L’AMOUR!

Bill Scott:

Bill Scott was about my age, when he produced, directed, wrote and voiced many of my favorite cartoons (in fact most of the voice actors, from these shows, were about my age, back then). I do look at Bill (and many of the other actors) a little differently, now that I too have reached my 40s.

Bill breathed life into some of the most loveable cartoon characters in animation history. He was truly blessed to have played the “Starring Voice” in the majority of the Jay Ward/Bill Scott stories. Even if he did pick himself, as the Star, so what? The fact remains, he was still THE STAR, and he had a flair for comedy.

Bill wrote me, in 1974, that he was a radio actor for about two years, in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Naturally I would really enjoy hearing a few re-broadcasts, of some of his finest radio work. I am glad that he got to lend his talents to this medium, albeit briefly.

Paul Frees:

What can be said of Paul Frees? In the first decade of the 21st Century, Paul seems to have really developed a following. A lengthy book of Paul Frees has been published by Ben Ohmart (Welcome Foolish Mortals) and a Paul Frees yahoo group is regularly flooded with emails from folks who claim that Paul is the best. Even one of Paul’s children, and a niece, are members of this yahoo group.

Sad that Paul never lived to see all this. At this writing he could have very well still been alive (he would have been in his early 80s). As is the case with June Foray, I miss hearing Paul’s characterizations in brand new projects. And naturally, I miss hearing, his rich, beautiful, dramatic voice, every time I turn on the TV (or the radio).

Edward Everett Horton:

It’s sad that Mr. Horton could not have taken part in more of Ward and Scott’s cartoons. As elderly as he was, he was still alive, when George of the Jungle was produced (the show came out in 1967 and Horton died in 1970, at age 83). Though perhaps he was more of the narrator type (Fractured Fairy Tales), I think it would have been REALLY interesting to hear his grandfatherly, crackly, funny, inmistakable voice in a few George of the Jungles, Super Chickens or Tom Slicks! Can you just picture that?? Like Paul Frees, he had a beautiful voice. And like Walter Tetley, maybe there was not a lot that he could do with his voice…….but man!………What he did do was awesome!

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