Wednesday 27 March 2019

Greater Than Elvis

Isn’t this a great tribute drawing to Hanna-Barbera’s greatest voice actor, Daws Butler?

I’ll bet this was drawn by H-B writer and sketch artist Tony Benedict. It has many of the same poses of the characters that were in a later drawing.

This one accompanied a fine article on Daws in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of August 6, 1962. Ignoring the spelling mistakes and a couple of factual errors (Huck debuted in 1958, A Time for Beany in 1949, June Foray and Hy Averback were also in “St. George and the Dragonet”), it’s a nice summary of his career. At this point, his favourite character was Mr. Jinks, which I’ve read in other articles around this time.

My appreciation goes to Kerry Cisneroz for passing along this picture.

Rarely Seen Daws Butler Talks Way to Stardom

Although Daws Butler is rarely seen on either a television or motion picture screen, he is a “star” with probably a greater following than the hip-swinging Elvis.
He doesn't look much like a star—he's not tall, dark and handsome but stands about five-feet-six with features resembling a Michelangelo cherub.
Daws Butler is a voice. In fact, he's 17 voices in 17 different characters. He's Huckleberry Hound or that loquacious cat, Snagglepuss.
Children of all ages laugh with glee when Daws, impersonating the picnic lunch-stealing Yogi Bear, announces “I'm better than the a-a-a-v-e-e-r-a-g-e bear,” or when Mr. Jinx [sic], the feline with mice trouble, growls “I hate those miserable m-e-e-c-e-e-s to p-i-e-e-c-e-s.”
Daws just spent a month here vacationing with his wife, Myrtis, and his four sons, and doing some promotional work for his new television series, “The Jetsons.”
It is a series about the family of the future—sort of the antithesis of “The Flintstones,” said Daws.
George Jetson is a factory worker his job is pressing a button. And when George goes home at night to his wife and kids man, he's bushed. He plops onto the livingroom couch, jerks off his shoes and lies back with a 1-o-o-o-n-g sigh.
“Did you have a hard day at the button dear,” chirps George's little wife, Jane.
“Yeh,” mumbles George, “But these three-hour days are killing me.”
Daws plays two parts in the series. He is the 8-year-old boy of the family named Elroy.
“They shoot him off in the morning to school in a capsule,” said Daws. “He goes to school all over the world one class may be in Switzerland and he may have lunch on Oahu.”
Daws said his other character is Henry, the old superintendent of the building the Jetsons live in.
“Henry is the link with the past—he remembers things that happened today. He's a contemporary child in a period of automation.
“When Henry talks about jet planes, everyone thinks he's old fashioned.”
Daws said the family also has a maid—a mechanized one.
“She sort of mechanized Hazel,” he said.
With Daws in the show is George O'Hanlan [sic], who used to do the motion picture series, “Behind the Eight Ball.” O'Hanlan plays the father.
Penny Singleton, of “Blondie” fame, plays Mrs. Jetson while Janet Waldo, who was Corless [sic] in the "Corless Archer" series, plays the 15-year-old Jetson daughter, Judy.
The show will be in color, beginning in October on the ABC network.
This will be Daws's' fourth show—he already has “Huckleberry Hound,” “Quick Draw McGraw” and “Yogi Bear.”
Asked how he got into this business, Daws laughed and said “ironically, I first wanted to be a cartoonist.”
But after he graduated from high school in Oak Park, Illinois, he and two friends formed a variety act and called themselves, “The Three Short Waves.”
They did radio and TV impersonations of dramatic actors or comedians like Charles Butterworth, Jack Oakie and Charles Laughton. The act lasted three years, playing also in night clubs and theatres throughout the East and Midwest.
He went to New York in 1938 “and tried to peddle a couple of radio show ideas which came to very little.
“I spent two years making the rounds and writing shows drama and everything.
“I gained a lot of valuable experience,” he said.
After serving in Naval Intelligence in the second World War, when he met and married his wife, Daws and his family came to Los Angeles.
“Then I hit the radio field I'd never done anything before but guest appearances but I broke into the ‘Doctor Christian’ show with Jean Hersholt as a character actor.”
He said it was nearly impossible to break into comedy in those days because the producers and directors were satisfied with the talent they had and “didn't want to take a chance with someone new.”
However, he said he received many calls “because I was versatile and could do many voice changes and, therefore, play many parts.”
He worked on such shows as “The Whistler,” “Suspense” and a few soap operas.
In 1947 [sic] Daws got together with Stan Freeberg [sic] and they did a puppet show called “Show Time For Beany” [sic] on television.
“This was the early days of TV. Stan and I did the actual puppeteering as well as the voices. It was on five days a week, 15 minutes a night.
“At the same time I was doing ‘Tom and Jerry’ and ‘Spike and Tike’ cartoons for M.G.M.,” he said. “There I met Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and that started me off.”
Hanna and Babera [sic] were the bosses of the cartoon shows and have expanded to the point that now they create all of Butler's shows—including “The Flintstones.”
“Huckleberry Hound” started in 1957 [sic]. Daws said Hanna and Barbara wanted to do this show but wanted a live MC.
“Huck was develped [sic] when they gave up the idea of a live MC,” said Daws. “Huck is sort of an easy going guy like the Tennessee Ernie Ford for kids and wears well with the public.
“If anyone gets hurt, it's him,” he said. “He's been with us ever since.”
Daws said the character he likes best is "Mr. Jinx,” the cat.
“He's sort of a takeoff on the New York theatre-type actor with torn shirt and all.
“You know, like Paul Newman, Marlon Brando or Peter Falk.
“He's a very easy character to adlib with—like an unintelligent verbosity.
“He has no modesty . . . if he uses the wrong word or says something wrong, he's the last guy in the world to know it.
“He's very glib.”
Daws has also been on “The Bullwinkle show,” “Fractured Fairy Tales” and did Waldo in the “Mr. McGoo” [sic] series.
He and Stan Freeberg made the record, “St. George and the Dragonet,” which sold 1 1/2 million copies. It came out at the height of Jack Webb's “Dragnet” series.
“We wrote it ourselves—Stan did the Webb character and I did all the others,” he said.
Daws said he has two records coming out—both done with Don Messick. One is titled “Huckleberry Hound and the Ghost Ship,” and the other is “Quick-Draw McGraw and the Treasure of Sarah's Mattress.”
He said they will be out in October and are on the Halloween idea “and have a lot of spook stuff.”
Daws pointed out that one-thing people don't know about the cartoons is that the voices are all done first.
“They draw up a series of characters and we choose one. Then we modify the drawing to fit the voice and the voice to fit the drawing.
“It's sort of a wedding of the picture and the voice,” he said.
Each character gets a fully developed personality, “but the ones that give me the most trouble are those with two lines—at the beginning and at the end of the show.”

And now, a bonus.

For reasons quite unknown to me, the name “Daws Butler” is not included on the record label you see to your right. Daws’ voice, however, is unmistakeable and you’ll hear him on this two-sided 78 rpm record. He plays Inky Dinky, a bear cub who learns about saving money. The tune on the other side is “Inky Dinky Learns to Save.”

Larry Morey’s name might be familiar. He was not only a lyricist for Walt Disney (Snow White, Bambi), he was in the animation business in the 1940s with John Sutherland, an ex-Disney writer who, arguably, had the finest industrial cartoon studio on the West Coast after Morey broke the partnership and went back to Disney. You may also recognise the name “Norma Zimmer.” You should if you’re a fan of Mr. Wunnerful, Wunnerful. She was Lawrence Welk’s Champagne Lady for years.

We’ve cued past the kid fiddling around with the record so you don’t have to.


  1. I recognize that picture up top! I saw it in an old book about Saturday morning television, only it was updated to include later H-B characters (Peter Potamus, Hair Bear, Lambsy, Jonathan Muddlemore et al.) and his non H-B work.

  2. You actually missed a "sic": poor Ted Kurrus misspelled "Tyke" of Spike and Tyke.

    I too think that's a terrific sketch of all of Daws' many voices through 1962--but it does contain one character voiced by Don Messick instead of the missing one voiced by Daws. That's Pixie with the bow tie instead of Dixie with the vest. It's hard for me to believe that Tony Benedict would have made that error, having probably done plenty of storyboards with the pair.

  3. Mister Jinx was one of my favorite Daws characters also. But then, I really gravitate to the pre 1960 H-B productions. It seemed in that short era, Daws really concentrated on the little voice nuances for Mr. Jinx, Huck, Yogi and other side characters.

  4. Yowp,
    I’ve seen a similar photo on your blog. But it is with every character daws voiced, not just HB. It literally is the exact same thing. Except Snuffles isn’t in the other photo. Characters not made by HB were in the other such as Cap’n Crunch and Quisp. The other photo also includes HB characters not in this one including Peter Potamus and Henry Orbit.

    1. Yes, the other drawing was by Tony Benedict.

  5. Great post!
    Wonderful article, Pictures. and Inky dinky too boot.
    thanks Yowp!

    Your pal,