Monday 16 November 2020

How Daws Does It

Daws Butler is still with us, in a way, even though he’s been gone physically for 32 years. You can pull out a DVD of one of his cartoons and enjoy his work. His recordings with Stan Freberg (commercials, radio, 45s) are on various websites. It’s still pretty easy to get a smile from Daws.

He was born 104 years ago today and as a little tribute, here’s an interview he gave the Detroit Free Press on June 18, 1964. The article is supposed to be a plug for the coming Yogi Bear movie but the writer seems to have found Butler’s voice work for Hanna-Barbera a more interesting topic.

I’m a little surprised Daws wasn’t high on Super Snooper. Granted he was pretty dependent on Archie of radio’s Duffy’s Tavern (he told producer Mark Evanier there was a good helping of Tom D’Andrea in the voice), but I liked the Snooper and Blabber cartoons. I’m at a loss picking a voice Daws did that I don’t like. If there is one, it would be the last one mentioned in the article below. I preferred Chilly Willy as a pantomime character instead of sounding like a squeaky toy.

'Hello, Yogi Bear Speaking . . .'
Free Press Staff Writer

The phone rang, and it was Yogi Bear calling from Hollywood. Not only that. It was Huckleberry Hound. And it was Quick-Draw Mc-Graw. And Babalooey and Mr. Jinks and Dixie the meese (the singular of meeses) and Super Snooper and Blabbermouse. And lots of others.
And, mainly, it was this fellow you probably never heard of, named Daws Butler, who is the voice of all those other guys you probably have heard of. And heard. Because they have been starring on television for a long time now.
So long, in fact, that this fellow Yogi Bear has gone into the movies. The first one is "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear," a sort of transparent title, and it is going to be in Detroit starting next Wednesday.
But don't go away. The movie isn't all Daws Butler talked about. (Not that he didn't mention that it is a pretty schmaltzy venture, in the Disney vein, with a great villain a really evil dog. He mentioned that, all right.)
BUTLER TALKED — like Yogi, Huck, Dixie, Quick0Draw and the rest. His greeting, "Hi, this is Yogi Bear," delighted the operator, who went away giggling. After that, he only did characters by request. Left to his own way, he merely talks like Daws Butler, which is a friendly voice with a touch of Mr. Jinks lurking somewhere in the background.
Maybe it's a coincidence, but Jinks is his favorite character: "Because there is a drollness to him. You can do a lot of things with words — abuse them or elongate them, it's almost like blank verse and Jinks has more sides to his character.
"Yogi, for instances has a sing-songy way of talking. There's almost a triplet in Yogi's sing-song. There's very little variation. Huckleberry Hound, it turned out, is another favorite of Butler's. On the other hand, he's never been particularly enamored of doing Super Snooper. "I've certainly never gone into the studio and said, 'Oh, boy, another Super Snooper script.' "
"But it isn't characters like Jinks who catch the public's fancy. It's always the upbeat characters like Yogi, Huck, and Snagglepuss . . . and Quick-Draw."
HOW DOES one get to be a Yogi-Huck-Jinks-Etc? "Back in high school, I was bashful. I used to make myself get up on the stage and do things. I worked up a routine where I imitated President Roosevelt and Rudy Vallee. Doing the sound effects of a model-T Ford was the top of my act."
After that, he went into radio, playing heavies and heroes almost without stopping for breath taking two or three roles In the same show.
And how do you go about creating a voice for a character never heard nor seen before?
"I WORK closely with the cartoonists. They show me a character, like Yogi, looking big and brash, and I try to sound the way I think the character would sound. Right now we're making Peter Potamus talk. I see this big hippo with a big mouth and I shape my mouth like his and I talk like this."
Clearly, it was Peter Potamus himself.
Butler was born in Toledo in 1916, grew up In Oak Park, Ill. He and his wife Myrtis live with their four boys (David, 20; Donald, 17; Paul, 14, and Charles 10) in Beverly Hills.
Our telephone conversation had to end of course. Butler had a recording session coming up. He had to see a man (Walter Lantz) about a dog (named Smedley) and a penguin (Chilly-Willy). It's all in his line of work.

Daws’ career encompassed more than Hanna-Barbera, or even cartoons (MGM, Warner Bros.). He wrote and voiced TV commercials. He played puppeteer on Time For Beany. He recorded children’s records for Capitol. One of his records was turned into the Mel-O-Toon “Peppy Possum.” You can see it below. The other voice belongs to Billy Bletcher. These cartoons were produced by Art Scott, who moved on to Hanna-Barbera in the early ‘60s.


  1. Happy birthday, Daws (1916-1988)'s well worth noting that his "impersonations", as we've noted here, were varitions (his Frank Fontaine, vs Freberg's Petw Puma one..if WB had bought HB back in,say,1983, Daws as Leroy the Lion from Huck and Stan as Pete Puma from Bugs could be side to side, one taking a "good guy" side and the other remaning ineffectively "villianous..

  2. It's almost impossible to find a least favorite Daws voice. Every time his characters speak they produce an instant smile on my face.

  3. Daws is still with us and will always be in our hearts. A very giving man also. I've heard and read so many interviews from his students who to a man, to a woman, all say how much they miss that amazing man. I can still watch the first year of Huck, Yogi, Jinx, Pixie and Dixie, and smile just like I'm watching them for the first time. The little inflections and nuances in his character voices were perfect.

  4. I, too, am surprised that Super Snooper seemed to be a character he wasn't enamored with. Although when listening to Daws perform as that character I laugh at the vocalization and the syllable elasticity of certain words. Maybe Daws didn't feel the character's voice lent itself to much variety or liveliness over the long was like a deadpan, monotone delivery...even though it was an amusing vocalization.