Butler in 1976
|Born||Charles Dawson Butler
November 16, 1916
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||May 18, 1988
Culver City, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Spouse(s)||Myrtis Martin-Butler (1940s–1988; his death)|
|Children||David Butler, Don Butler, Paul Butler and Charles (Chas) Butler|
Charles Dawson "Daws" Butler (November 16, 1916 – May 18, 1988) was a voice actor originally from Toledo, Ohio. He worked mostly for the Hanna-Barbera animation production company and originated the voices of many familiar animated cartoon characters, including Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, and Huckleberry Hound.
Early life and career
Daws Butler was born on November 16, 1916 in Toledo, Ohio, the only child of Ruth Butler and Charles Allen Butler. The family later moved from Ohio to Oak Park, Illinois, where Butler got interested in impersonating people.
In 1934, the future voice master started as an impressionist, entering multiple amateur contests and winning most of them. He had entered them, not with the intention of showing his talent but as a personal challenge to overcome his shyness, with success. Nonetheless, Butler won professional engagements at vaudeville theaters. Later he teamed up with fellow performers, Jack Lavin and Willard Ovitz to form the comedy trio The Three Short Waves. The team played in theaters, radio and nightclubs, generating positive reviews from regional critics and audiences. They dissolved when in 1941, Daws Butler joined the U.S. Navy as America entered World War Two. Some time after, he met his wife Myrtis during a wartime function at North Carolina.
His first voice work for an animated character came in 1948 in the animated short Short Snorts on Sports, which was produced by Screen Gems. That same year at MGM, Tex Avery hired Butler to provide the voice of a British wolf on Little Rural Riding Hood and also narrate several of his cartoons. Throughout the decade, he had roles in many Avery-directed cartoons; The Fox in Out-Foxed, The Narrator in The Cuckoo Clock, The Cobbler in The Peachy Cobbler, Mr. Theeves in Droopy's "Double Trouble", Mysto the Magician in Magical Maestro, John the Cab and John the B-29 Bomber in One Cab's Family and Little Johnny Jet and Maxie in The Legend of Rockabye Point.
Starting with The Three Little Pups, Butler provided the voice for a nameless wolf that spoke in a Southern accent and whistled all the time. This character also appeared in Sheep Wrecked, Billy Boy and many more cartoons. While at MGM, Avery wanted Butler to try to do the voice of Droopy, at a time when Bill Thompson had been unavailable due to radio engagements. Instead Butler then told Avery about Don Messick, another voice actor and Butler's lifelong friend, who could imitate Thompson. Thus Messick voiced Droopy on several shorts.
In 1949, Butler landed a role in a televised puppet show created by former Warner Bros. cartoon director Bob Clampett called Time for Beany. Butler was teamed up with Stan Freberg, and together they did all the voices of the puppets. Butler voiced Beany Boy and Captain Huffenpuff. Freberg voiced Cecil and Dishonest John. An entire stable of recurring characters were seen. The show's writers were Charles Shows and Lloyd Turner, whose dependably funny dialog was still always at the mercy of Butler's and Freberg's ad libs. Time for Beany ran from 1949 to 1954 and won several Emmy Awards. It was the basis for the cartoon Beany and Cecil.
Butler briefly turned his attention to TV commercials, although he quickly moved to providing the voice to many nameless Walter Lantz characters for theatrical shorts later seen on the Woody Woodpecker program. His notable character was the penguin "Chilly Willy" and his sidekick, the southern-speaking dog Smedley (the same voice used for Tex Avery's laid-back wolf character).
Also in the 1950s, Stan Freberg asked Butler to help him write comedy skits for his Capitol Records albums. Their first collaboration, "St. George and the Dragon-Net" (based on Dragnet), was the first comedy record to sell over one million copies. Freberg was more of a satirist who did song parodies, but the bulk of his "talking" routines were co-written by, and co-starred, Daws Butler. Butler also teamed up again with Freberg and cartoon actress June Foray in a CBS radio series, The Stan Freberg Show, which ran from July to October 1957 as a summer replacement for Jack Benny's program. Freberg's box-set, Tip of the Freberg (Rhino Entertainment, 1999) chronicles every aspect of Freberg's career except the cartoon voice-over work, and it showcases his career with Daws Butler.
In 1957, when MGM closed down their animation division, producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera quickly formed their own company, and Daws Butler and Don Messick were on-hand to provide voices. The first, The Ruff & Reddy Show where Butler voiced Reddy, set the formula for the rest of the series of cartoons that the two would helm until the mid-1960s.
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The characters with voices by Butler from 1957 to 1978 included:
- "Bring 'Em Back Alive" Clive
- Aesop's Son (in the "Aesop and Son" segment of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show)
- Fibber Fox and Alfy Gator (of Yakky Doodle)
- Ali Gator (in two Lantz theatrical shorts)
- Augie Doggie
- Baba Looey (from Quick Draw McGraw)
- Barney Rubble (from The Flintstones) (1959–1961; The Flagstones pilot and season two episodes 1, 2, 5, 6, and 9 only)
- Big Gruesome
- Bingo (of Banana Splits)
- Brutus the Lion (of The Roman Holidays)
- Cap'n Crunch
- Captain Skyhook (of The Space Kidettes)
- Chilly Willy
- Colonel Pot Shot
- Dixie Mouse (of Pixie and Dixie)
- Elroy Jetson
- Fibber Fox (of Yakky Doodle)
- Fred Flintstone (1959; The Flagstones pilot only)
- Gabby Gator (of Woody Woodpecker)
- Gelationous Giant from The Phantom Tollbooth
- Gooney the "Gooney Bird" Albatross
- Hair Bear (of Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch)
- Henry Orbit
- Hokey Wolf
- Huckleberry Hound
- Hustle (of The CB Bears)
- Jonathan Wellington "Mudsy" Muddlemore (of The Funky Phantom)
- Karlos K. Krinkelbein (from the 1971 animated TV special version of The Cat in the Hat)
- Lambsy (of "It's the Wolf" on Cattanooga Cats)
- Lippy the Lion
- Loopy De Loop
- Louie (from The Dogfather)
- Maxie the Polar Bear
- Mr. Jinks (of Pixie and Dixie)
- Peter Perfect
- Peter Potamus
- Pug (from The Dogfather)
- Quick Draw McGraw
- Raggedy Andy (in "The Great Santa Claus Caper (1978)")
- Red Max
- Reddy the dog (from The Ruff & Reddy Show)
- Rock Slag
- Rufus Ruffcut
- Senses Taker from The Phantom Tollbooth
- Sgt. Blast
- Smedley the dog (from the Chilly Willy cartoons)
- Super Snooper and Blabber Mouse
- Spike the Bulldog (of Spike and Tyke) (1949–1957)
- Snoopy (of Peanuts) (1965–1971)
- Stick and Duke (of Posse Impossible)
- Undercover Elephant
- Terrible Trivium from The Phantom Tollbooth
- Whether Man from The Phantom Tollbooth
- Wally Gator
- Wolf (from the Droopy cartoons)
- Yahooey (from Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey)
- Yogi Bear
Butler would voice most of these characters for many decades, in both TV shows and in some commercials. The breakfast cereal mascot Cap'n Crunch became an icon of sorts on Saturday morning TV through many commercials produced by Jay Ward. Butler gave voice to the Cap'n from the 1960s to the 1980s. He based the voice on that of character actor Charles Butterworth. When in 1961, Mel Blanc was recovering from a motor vehicle accident, Daws Butler stepped in to voice Barney Rubble in five episodes of The Flintstones (The Hit Songwriter, Droop-Along Flintstone, Fred Flintstone Woos Again, The Rock Quarry Story, The Little White Lie). In the 1970s he was the voice of "Hair Bear" on Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! and a few characters in minor cartoons such as C.B. Bears. On Wacky Races, Butler provided the voices for a number of the racers, Rock Slag, Big Gruesome, the Red Max, Sgt. Blast, Peter Perfect, and Rufus Ruffcut. On Laff-a-Lympics, Butler was virtually the entire "Yogi Yahooey" team. He voiced a penguin and a turtle in the movie Mary Poppins, his only known work for Disney. Along with Stan Freberg, Paul Frees and June Foray, Butler also provided voices for countless children's records featuring recreations of several successful Disney cartoons and films.
Butler based some of his voices on popular celebrities of the day. Yogi Bear began as an Art Carney impression; Butler had done a similar voice in several of Robert McKimson's films at Warner Brothers and Stan Freberg's comedy record "The Honey-Earthers." However, Butler soon changed Yogi's voice, making it much deeper and more sing-songy, thus making it a more original voice. Hokey Wolf began as an impression of Phil Silvers, and Snagglepuss as Bert Lahr. In fact, when Snagglepuss began appearing in commercials for Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies in 1961, Lahr threatened to sue Butler for "stealing" his voice. As part of the settlement, the disclaimer "Snagglepuss voice by Daws Butler" was required to appear on each commercial, making him the only voice actor ever to receive one in an animated TV commercial. Again, Butler redesigned these voices, making them his own inventions. Huckleberry Hound was inspired many years earlier, in 1945, by a North Carolina neighbor of Daws' wife's family, and he had in fact been using that voice for a long time, for Avery's laid-back wolf and Lantz's Smedley.
Butler remained somewhat low-key in the 1970s and 1980s, until a 1985 revival of The Jetsons. Also in 1983, he voiced the title character, Wacky WallWalker in Deck the Halls with Wacky Walls. In 1975, Butler began an acting workshop that spawned such talents as Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons), Corey Burton (Old Navy, Disney), and Joe Bevilacqua (NPR).
In the year of his death, The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound was released, a tour-de-force featuring most of his classic early characters.
Personal life and death
He was married to Myrtis Martin from the 1940s to 1988, whom he had met and married while he was in the United States Navy during World War II. They had four sons, David Butler, Don Butler, Paul Butler and Charles Butler. Butler died from a heart attack on May 18, 1988. Many of his roles were assumed by Greg Burson, who had been personally trained by Butler.
Daws Butler trained many voice actors including Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Corey Burton (the voice of Dale in Chip 'n' Dale), Bill Farmer (the current voice of Goofy, Pluto, and Horace Horsecollar), Bob Bergen (voice of Porky Pig), Joe Bevilacqua (whom Butler personally taught how to do all of his characters), and Greg Burson (voice of Yogi Bear and Bugs Bunny). Butler's voice and scripts were a frequent part of Bevilacqua's now-defunct XM show. Bevilacqua also wrote Butler's official biography, published by Bear Manor Media. A new book of cartoon scripts written by Daws Butler and Joe Bevilacqua, Uncle Dunkle and Donnie: Fractured Fables, was scheduled for publication in the fall of 2009. A four-volume, 4½-hour audio set of Uncle Dunkle and Donnie was to be released simultaneously with Bevilacqua performing all 97 characters in 35 stories. Butler also trained Hal Rayle, who ultimately determined that his best-known character of Doyle Cleverlobe from Galaxy High School should sound like Elroy Jetson after he finished puberty.
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Animated films and theatrical shorts
|1948||Short Snorts on Sports||Screen Gems (Columbia) Theatrical short|
|Little Rural Riding Hood||City Wolf||MGM Theatrical short|
|1949||Out-Foxed||Fox||Droopy Theatrical short|
|Love That Pup||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Jerry's Diary||"Uncle Dudley"||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|1950||Punchy de Leon||Crow||UPA Theatrical short|
|The Chump Champ||Master of Ceremonies||Droopy Theatrical short|
|The Peachy Cobbler||Narrator/The Cobbler||MGM Theatrical short|
|The Cuckoo Clock||Narrator (The Cat)||MGM Theatrical short|
|The Framed Cat||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|1951||Daredevil Droopy||The Great Barko||Droopy Theatrical short|
|Jerry and the Goldfish||Chef Francois||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Sleepy-Time Tom||Butch||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Slicked-Up Pup||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Droopy's "Double Trouble"||Mr. Theeves||Droopy Theatrical short|
|1952||Gift Wrapped||Narrator||Sylvester and Tweety Theatrical short|
|Magical Maestro||Mysto the Magician||MGM Theatrical short|
|One Cab's Family||John the Cab/Doctor||MGM Theatrical short|
|Rock-a-Bye Bear||Dog Pound Proprietor/Joe Bear||MGM Theatrical short|
|A Case for Hypnosis||Doctor Twiddle|
|Fit to Be Tied||Spike||Tom and Jery short|
|The Dog House||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|1953||That's My Pup!||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Little Johnny Jet||John the Bomber||MGM Theatrical short|
|The Three Pups||Wolf||Droopy Theatrical short|
|Chilly Willy||Chilly Willy||Walter Lantz Theatrical short|
|Life with Tom||Radio announcer||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|1954||Crazy Mixed-Up Pup||Samuel/The Dog/Milkman||Theatrical short|
|Drag-A-Long Droopy||Wolf Rancher/The Bull||Droopy Theatrical short|
|Billy Boy||Wolf||MGM Theatrical short|
|Under the Counter Spy||Hammerer||Woody Woodpecker Theatrical short|
|Hic-cup Pup||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Pet Peeve||Tom and Spike's Owner||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|The Flea Circus||Pepito||MGM Theatrical short|
|Convict Concerto||Police Officer||Woody Woodpecker Theatrical short|
|I'm Cold||Smedley||Chilly Willy Theatrical short|
|Farm of Tomorrow||MGM Theatrical short|
|1955||The Legend of Rockabye Point||Maxie the Polar Bear||Walter Lantz Theatrical short|
|Pecos Pest||Announcer||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Deputy Droopy||Sheriff/Thief||Droopy Theatrical short|
|Hot and Cold Penguin||Smedley||Chilly Willy Theatrical short|
|Heir-Conditioned||Cat||Sylvester and Tweety Theatrical short|
|The Tree Medic||Tree Surgeon||Walter Lantz Theatrical short|
|Sh-h-h-h-h-h||Mr. Twiddle/Doctor/Hotel Manager||Walter Lantz Theatrical short|
|Pup on a Picnic||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Smarty Cat||Butch||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|1956||Down Beat Bear||Radio announcer||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Weasel Stop'||Dog||Looney Tunes Theatrical short|
|Barbary Coast Bunny||Nasty Canasta||Looney Tunes Theatrical short|
|Wideo Wabbit||Bugs Bunny doing Groucho Marx/Bugs Bunny doing Ed Norton||Looney Tunes Theatrical short|
|Yankee Dood It||Shoemaker||Looney Tunes Theatrical short|
|Rocket-bye Baby||Narrator/Joseph Wilbur||Merrie Melodies Theatrical short|
|Barbecue Brawl||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Stupor Duck||Narrator/Newspaper editor/Mountain climber 2||Daffy Duck Theatrical short|
|Magoo's Puddle Jumper||Waldo||Mr. Magoo Theatrical short|
|After the Ball||Lumberjack Bear||Woody Woodpecker short|
|Woody Meets Davy Crewcut||Davy Crewcut||Woody Woodpecker short|
|The Ostrich Egg and I||Sam||Walter Lantz short|
|Operation Cold Feet||Smedley||Chilly Willy short|
|Hold That Rock||Smedley||Chilly Willy short|
|Half-Fare Hare||Ralph Kramden/Ed Norton||Bugs Bunny short|
|The Honey-Mousers||Ralph Krumden/Ned Morton||Looney Tunes short|
|Raw! Raw! Rooster!||Rhode Island Red||Looney Tunes short|
|1957||Tops with Pops||Spike||Tom and Jerry Theatrical short|
|Tom's Photo Finish||Tom's Owner/Spike||Tom and Jerry short|
|Give and Tyke||Spike/Stray Dog/Dog Catcher||Spike and Tyke short|
|Scat Cats||Spike/Spike and Tyke's Owner/Cat||Spike and Tyke short|
|Blackboard Jumble||Wolf||Droopy short|
|Drafty, Isn't?||Narrator/Ralph Phillips|
|Mucho Mouse||Spanish Cat||Tom and jerry short|
|Go Fly a Kit||Counter Man||Looney Tunes short|
|International Woodpecker||George Washington||Woody Woodpecker short|
|The Unbearable Salesman||Bear||Woody Woodpecker short|
|Cheese It, the Cat!||Ralph Krumden/Ned Morton||Looney Tunes short|
|Fodder and Son||Windy and Breezy||Walter Lantz short|
|1958||Mutts About Racing||Announcer||Droopy short|
|Everglade Raid||Al I. Gator||Woody Woodpecker short|
|Watch the Birdie||Birdwatcher||Woody Woodpecker short|
|Tree's a Crowd||Colonel Munch||Woody Woodpecker short|
|A Bird in a Bonnet||Sewer Worker||Looney Tunes short|
|A Chilly Reception||Chilly Willy||Chilly Willy short|
|Polar Pest||Chilly Willy||Chilly Willy short|
|Little TeleVillain||Smedley/Mr. Stoop/Car Salesman||Chilly Willy short|
|A Waggily Tale||Junior/Elvis/Dad/Johnny/Melvin||Looney Tunes short|
|1959||Truant Student||Windy/Breezy/Truant Officer Willoughby||Walter Lantz short|
|The Alphabet Conspiracy||Jabberwock||TV movie|
|Robinson Gruesome||Narrator/Robinson Gruesome/Ape||Walter Lantz short|
|Trick or Tweet||Sam||Sylvester and Tweety short|
|Yukon Have It||Smedley/Caribou Lou||Chilly Willy short|
|Merry Minstrel Magoo||Waldo/Dentist||UPA short|
|Here Today, Gone Tamale||Mice||Looney Tunes short|
|Romp in a Swamp||Al I. Gator||Woody Woodpecker short|
|Loopy De Loop||Loopy De Loop||48 Theatrical shorts|
|1964||Mary Poppins||Turtle/Penguin||His only work for Disney|
|Hey There, It's Yogi Bear||Yogi Bear||Hanna Barbera's first Animated feature film|
|1970||The Phantom Tollbooth||The Whether Man||Animated feature film|
|1987||The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones||Elroy Jetson/Henry Orbit/Cogswell||Animated feature film|
- The video Daws Butler: Voice Magician is a 1987 documentary of Butler's career from his pre-MGM days on up through his teaming with Freberg in 1949 and the teaming with Don Messick in 1957. It was originally seen as a PBS pledge-drive special.
- Former Butler protege Joe Bevilacqua used to host a radio series on XM Satellite Radio's Sonic Theater Channel called The Comedy-O-Rama Hour which features a regular segment called What the Butler Wrote: Scenes from the Daws Butler Workshop with rare scripts of Daws performed by his students, including Nancy Cartwright, and rare recordings of Daws himself. Bevilacqua has also co-authored (with Ben Ohmart) the authorized biography book Daws Butler, Characters Actor, and edited the book Scenes for Actors and Voices written by Daws Butler, both published by Bear Manor Media.
- Butler once appeared as a contestant on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life. The studio audience did not recognize him until he began doing Huckleberry Hound's voice. Butler and his partner split the top prize of $10,000.
- In 1985, Daws Butler was interviewed about his career on radio by Dr. Demento.
- "the Official Website of Daws Butler- BIOGRAPHY- June 2003". Dawsbutler.com. 1978-11-21. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
- "A Personal Portrait of My Mentor by Joe Bevilesqua". Dawsbutler.com. Retrieved 2013-02-01.
- "Daws Butler's biography on". S9.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- "The Comedy-O-Rama Hour". Comedyorama.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Daws Butler - Characters Actor, BearManor Media
- "The Galaxy High Website!". Galaxyhigh86.tripod.com. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Official website
- A rare dramatic role by Butler as Toby Dammit in Poe's story Never Bet the Devil Your Head
- Comedy-O-Rama and Scenes from the Daws Butler Workshop
- Daws Butler at the Internet Movie Database
- Daws Butler at Find a Grave