Foxy (Merrie Melodies)
Foxy on the Merrie Melodies title card in 1931
|First appearance||Lady, Play Your Mandolin! (Merrie Melodies, August 1931)|
|Last appearance||Two-Tone Town (Tiny Toon Adventures, September 1992)|
|Created by||Rudolf Ising|
|Voiced by||Rob Paulsen (Tiny Toon Adventures (September 1992))|
Foxy is an animated cartoon character featured in three 1931 animated shorts in the Merrie Melodies series distributed by Warner Bros. He was the creation of animator Rudolf Ising, who had worked for Walt Disney in the 1920s.
Concept and creation
In 1925, Hugh Harman drew images of mice on a portrait of Walt Disney. Disney and Ub Iwerks would then use it as the basis for their creation of Mickey Mouse, the character who eventually became Disney's most popular. Knowing that Disney and Iwerks had capitalized on their little idea, Harman and Ising figured it was only fair that they should conceive a character based on a similar mold, thus leading to the birth of Foxy.
Though Foxy bears a strong resemblance with his Disney counterpart, he and Mickey still have a considerable number of differences. Foxy's persona is composed of tear-drop ears, a baritone voice, shoes with a more complex design, a bushy tail, and a more enthusiastic character. Mickey has circle ears, a falsetto voice (he was originally baritone), plain shoes, a much thinner tail, and is mild-mannered.
Foxy was the star of the first Merrie Melodies cartoons Ising directed for producer Leon Schlesinger. (Ising had already helped his partner Hugh Harman create another series, titled Looney Tunes, with the character Bosko.) Foxy's first appearance on screen was on August 1931 in "Lady, Play Your Mandolin!". This old-western themed short features Foxy developing affection for the tavern singer who would become his girlfriend.
Foxy and his then-nameless girlfriend would appear in another cartoon that same year: "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!" (September 5, 1931), a musical set on a trolley. The plot bears some similarities to Trolley Troubles, a 1928 Oswald Rabbit cartoon which Harman and Ising contributed on. This also marks the first time Foxy's name was mentioned
Nearly a month later, a third short called "One More Time" (October 3, 1931) was released. This musical cops-'n'-robbers themed cartoon would become Foxy's final appearance in the Merrie Melodies series and has the character killed off in the final scene; a crow shoots Foxy in the back after he successfully captures a street gang.
At the end of each short, Foxy comes out from behind a bass drum and says to the viewers "So long, folks!" This closing act would later be assumed by Porky Pig but with a different line. Although all three shorts use sound, the voice actors aren't credited and were never revealed.
Upon leaving Warner Bros. two years later, Ising took and kept with him the rights to Foxy and two other characters he conceived. Though Ising got a job at another studio, none of the characters he recently featured made any more theatrical appearances. All three Foxy shorts would end up in the public domain after several years.
Foxy appeared along with his girlfriend (here christened "Roxy") and fellow forgotten Warner Bros. progenitor Goopy Geer in "Two-Tone Town", an episode of the animated series Tiny Toon Adventures aired on September 28, 1992. (The foxes were voiced by Rob Paulsen and Desiree Goyette respectively, and were redesigned for the episode.) The three live in a world of black-and-white which is visited by the series' stars, Babs Bunny and Buster Bunny. Feeling sorry for the old timers left in oblivion, Babs and Buster decided to help bring Foxy, Roxy and Goopy back to the limelight. The efforts of the two rabbits worked out but doing so resulted in an exchanged of scenarios: Buster and Babs end up being featured in an old theatre while the three characters they helped became the new TV sensation.
Parodies and references
In "Animaniacs", in the debut episode "De-Zantisated", when Yakko, Wakko, and Dot first meet Hello Nurse, Yakko and Wakko have wolf faces that look similar to Foxy's face in his Tiny Toons guest appearance.
- Kenworthy, John The Hand Behind the Mouse, Disney Editions: New York, 2001. p.54.
- "Looney Tunes in the Public Domain". The Ultimate Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Website. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Foxy and Roxy profile at Bosko.ToonZone.net