Wednesday 21 August 2019

How Kids Teach Daws Butler

Daws Butler taught all kinds of newcomers the art of acting, but Daws got a few lessons himself—from his own children.

So he admitted in an article that appeared in the San Antonio Express and News on April 14, 1963. Unfortunately we can’t reproduce a nice photo of Daws and his youngest son, but we can reproduce the story. There’s no byline so my guess is this was from a syndicate.

Thoughtful? Attentive?
TV's Kids Aren't Realistic, Says Cartoon Voice Daws
HOLLYWOOD — It's rare to see a child acting like one on TV or in any other drama medium, says Daws Butler, the voice of young Elroy on ABC- TV's animated “The Jetsons” series.
Soft-spoken, with a puckish sense of humor, Daws is considered something of an expert on juveniles—boys in particular, because he lives with four of them. His four “technical consultants” are sons David, 10, Don, 16, Paul, 12, and Charles, 9. All volunteer ideas on voicing Elroy when Daws works at the mike in his Beverly Hills home sound studio.
“Part of the unrealism of TV children,” explained Daws, “is that they listen thoughtfully to their elders, pay attention when an adult is speaking.
Minds Flit
“Actually, children's minds are flitty. If I tell one of our younger ones that I want to speak to him, he's apt to come up with something like, ‘Wait a minute. I have to get the football.’
“Children aren't dishonest, but if there's a chance to weasel out, they will, because what is important to us is not to them,” he added.
Looking at Charles, Butler commented, “Typical of Elroy Jetson's sophistication is the fact that when his father tells him to do something, he asks ‘Why?’ or ‘Why do I have to do it your way?’
He thought of another Elroy truism:
“When words are too big for Elroy, he remembers what he can and improvises the rest—like real kids. They come close to a word and add flu element of humor, like ‘idiotcyncracy’ or ‘stupidstitious.’”
From home study, Daws has also picked up the knack of having Elroy either race through a line or underplay it “for his own satisfaction but so his father can't hear it.”
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Butler grew up in Oak Park, Ill. He studied public speaking at Oak Park High School to overcome shyness and entered the entertainment world for the same reason. He made his professional debut at the Black Hawk Restaurant, Chicago, doing imitations as one of “The Three Short Waves.” This led to a radio career followed by his present specialities of creating commercials and cartoon voices.
Other Voices
Butler, heard on other Hanna-Barbera shows as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Mr. Jinks and Snagglepuss, did his first juvenile on the old “Time for Beany” show.
His other “kid” voices for H-B include Augie Doggie, Baba Looey, Blabber and Dixie.
Working in “The Jetsons” has made Daws a super hero at home.
“The youngsters are fascinated with the series and want to know all about it. After all, the future is their world,” he says.
And they like Elroy.
“He's a wide-eyed, attractive little guy, and all-boy. I try to keep him that way vocally—strongly boyish but cute. There would be no point in making his voice odd or gimmicky.
“I also try to stay away from gushing or overplaying,” said Daws. “Kids only like other kids if they don't resent them. And kids do like Elroy. He's one of them.”

What did Daws’ youngsters and students think of him? Our friend Adel Khan has passed along a link to this tribute to Daws Butler that includes some words from his son David and some people whose voices you may recognise from cartoons. It’s pretty long so you may want to skip through it. You can watch it in high-definition if you prefer.


  1. Great video. It's a small wonder why this man, mentor, and teacher was so universally loved.

  2. Elroy was here. XD!

  3. Daws Butler is my favorite actor because he proves that immense talent, kindness and a childlike curiosity go together beautifully.