Saturday, 3 November 2018

Daws Talks About Talking

What about the Yogi Bear-Art Carney connection?

Who better to tell you than Daws Butler, the man who voiced Yogi?

Cartoon voice actors who weren’t named Mel Blanc didn’t get a lot of press ink for about the first 35-or-so years of sound cartoons (and it was fairly rare for Blanc, except when he starred on his own radio show, until he almost died in a car crash in 1961). That makes it all the more pleasing to stumble across stories about Daws Butler from the early Hanna-Barbera days.

Here’s one from February 1, 1961 which, coincidentally, wasn’t too many days after Blanc’s horrendous accident. Hanna-Barbera had added to his workload; the article coincides with the start of the Yogi Bear Show on which Daws starred in two of the three segments.

Not only does he talk about Yogi, he mentions the origin of the Huck voice, too. Unfortunately, the columnist ends the story without Daws going into details about his kids and cartoons.

Fans Hound Yogi; He Becomes Star

Minneapolis Star Staff Writer
Yogi Bear, as most any adult can tell you, is one of the favorite characters on "Huckleberry Hound," a children's television series.
Unfortunately for Huck, Yogi's fan mail grew to such proportions that the creators of the animated cartoon program decided to star Yogi in a series of his own.
Patterned after the Hound format, Yogi's 30-minute series consists of three 10-minute stories. It debuts at 5 p.m. Thursday on channel four. Huckleberry Hound will continue as a Tuesday afternoon feature of the station.
Yogi and Huck were created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, a couple of animation artists who will gross over 40 million dollars this year. Their company also produces "Quick Draw McGraw" and "The Flintstones" for television.
The voices of Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw are done by a short (5 feet, 4 inches), dark-haired, frustrated cartoonist named Daws Butler. He began his entertainment career as a member of "The Three Short Waves," a trio which specialized in impersonations.
"We stayed together for three years until the war divorced me from show business," Butler said in a phone interview. "When I got out of the navy, I went to California because everything seemed to be centered there.
"I intended to go to an art school on the GI bill, but the schools were loaded. I went to radio school instead." After appearing in character parts on several radio programs, he auditioned for Hanna and Barbera, who were working for MGM at the time. He was hired to do the voices of Spike and Tyke in the movie cartoons. Later he teamed with Stan Freberg on "Time for Beany," a children's program, and on the record, "St. George and the Dragonet."
"When the Huckleberry Hound" television series was in the talking stage, they asked me to come up with a voice for Huck," Butler said. "They wanted an easy-going, sincere, Tennessee Ernie-type character to host the show. "I picked up Huck's dialect from my wife, who came from North Carolina, and Huck became the leading character.
The voice of Yogi Bear, on the other hand, bears a strong resemblance to that of Art Carney. "We wanted to come up with a voice that the public recognized," Butler said. "During our experiments, I did a take-off on Carney, and the producers went for it. The Carney quality is still basic to the voice, but as it developed, I added articulation, spread the vowels and gave it strong exaggeration."
Although Yogi will continue to appear on the next few episodes of "Huckleberry Hound," he will gradually drift out of the picture. His place will be taken by two new characters, a smart-aleck wolf named Hokey and a little fall-guy wolf named Ding-a-ling. Butler will do these voices as well as those of Huck, Mr. Jinks and Dixie. Don Messick, another voice specialist, does the talking for Pixie and Boo Boo Bear.
Butler will do Yogi and Snagglepuss, a mountain lion, on the new Yogi Bear program.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Butler grew up in the Chicago area. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife and four sons, David, 16, Donald, 14, Paul, 10, and Charles, 7.
"The older boys already have gotten their feet wet in the cartoon voice business," the father said proudly in a voice all his own.


  1. That's my mentor!

    1. He sure is/was! I remember the stories you recalled about Daws over on the newsgroups and elsewhere! And this year and month are the 30th anniversary of his least. his work otherwise will never die.! :)

  2. Nominally, Yogi Bear’s own show premiered on January 30, 1961, which is also the day I was born. Do you have any record of stations that aired it on that Monday?

    1. Yes. The station I watched, KING in Seattle. Also WPIX New York, WPRO Providence, WSB Atlanta. There are others I haven't checked out yet.
      WPIX was also running Spunky and Tadpole at 4:55 for kids who didn't care what they watched.

    2. WPIX also ran 15 minutes of "Pow-Wow the Indian Boy" at noon before the 15-minute Rocky Show at 12:15. That's why Ch. 5 was overall the better station for cartoons back then (even though WPIX was where all the syndicated H-B shows ran through 1966).

  3. Daws is kind of doing a proto-Yogi as the unlicensed dog with the Carney mannerisms in Hanna-Barbera's "Give and Tyke" from 1957

    1. And as the mice in McKimson's Honeymooners spoofs..the guy that one Bugs cartoon, and the three all mice Homeymousrersm, always with Daws and Jackie Gleason as Ralph Ramnden.;

  4. And geez, isn't Reddy almost exactly the same voice as Huck? He's a different character--more loquacious, a bit less optimistic, more obviously southern, and of course, he has a pal to play off of while Huck doesn't--but when I got the first few Colgems albums back in '59-'60, I was astonished that I'd never noticed while watching them on TV. Apart from the different sponsorship of the programs, I think this is why Ruff and Reddy don't show up too often in any of the reunion programs--Reddy meeting Huck would have made it too obvious. (Of course, they could've simply made them long-lost cousins hailing from North Carolina.)

  5. True, Kind of like Snagglepuss meeting The Funky Phantom.

    1. Or Josie meeting Judy Jetson (and maybe Penelope Pitstop only she REALLY has a southern accent..)..:)