“If we hadn’t have had Daws, there may not even have been a Hanna-Barbera,” said a man who should know. The statement was made by Bill Hanna.
Hanna’s right. Who else could have brought all those wonderful early Hanna-Barbera characters to life other than Daws Butler? And made them friendly and fun? There were still plenty of great radio actors around in the 1950s but I can’t picture any of them doing it.
Daws was interviewed by newspapers over the years—especially when the TV cartoons started reeking of nostalgia—but was finally given his due with a TV special in 1987 called “Daws Butler—Voice Magician.” As of this writing, someone has uploaded it on a video sharing site and we hope it’s still there. But we’ve managed to clip his comments about the main Hanna-Barbera TV characters he voiced and you can listen to them below.
DAWS ON HUCKLEBERRY HOUND
DAWS ON YOGI BEAR
DAWS ON QUICK DRAW McGRAW AND BABA LOOEY
DAWS ON HIS KID VOICES
DAWS ON SNOOPER AND MR. JINKS
DAWS ON WALLY GATOR
DAWS ON HOKEY WOLF AND SNAGGLEPUSS
A couple of other notes about Daws’ early voices:
● Mr. Jinks sounds very much like a voice that Stan Freberg used on records and radio. As Daws and Freberg worked on many projects together in the ‘50s, it’s conceivable Daws lifted the voice from him.
● Baba Looey’s register was lower and delivery a little flatter in the first few Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Either Joe Barbera (who voice directed the early cartoons) or Daws decided to raise the voice and make him sound younger (and, therefore, cuter and more attractive).
● Blabber Mouse may have had a “toothy” sound, but that was courtesy of Elliot Field, the Los Angeles afternoon radio disc jockey who originated the voice. Daws took over the character after four cartoons when Mr. Field left the studio.
● Radio-TV Daily reported in 1963 on a $500,000 lawsuit by Bert Lahr against Kellogg’s, Screen Gems and Hanna-Barbera because the Daws’ Lahr-inspired Snagglepuss was appearing in commercials for Cocoa Krispies. Lahr’s litigiousness actually predates any cartoon mountain lions. The Spokane Spokesman-Review of June 12, 1962 reveals Lahr brought suit in federal court in late 1958 because voices like his were being used in commercials. After being sent to a lower court for jury trial and then to appeal court, Lahr was told in 1962 he could sue for damages. The cartoon character, in that case, was a duck hawking Lestoil. (Daws likely didn’t voice the character as the spot was produced by Robert Lawrence in New York).
Joe Barbera once said that Daws Butler was more than a voice actor, he helped develop the studio’s characters. There may have been a Hanna-Barbera without him, but it wouldn’t have been the same.