Melissa Duck: from The Scarlet Pumpernickel
|First appearance||Nasty Quacks (December 1, 1945)|
|Created by||Frank Tashlin
|Voiced by||Bea Benaderet (1950, 1953)
B.J. Ward (1987-1988)
Janyse Jaud (Baby Looney Tunes (2002-2005))
|Significant other(s)||Daffy Duck|
Melissa Duck is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons and the animated television series Baby Looney Tunes. She is featured as main character Daffy Duck's blonde girlfriend in several cartoon shorts but is only referred to as Melissa in one, The Scarlet Pumpernickel, where she is voiced by Bea Benaderet.
In the 1945 cartoon Nasty Quacks, Daffy's owner, a young girl, also becomes the besotted owner of a small, yellow duckling. When a jealous Daffy feeds the duckling growth pills, he is surprised to see it age into a white, female duck with blonde hair. By the end of the cartoon, the two have fallen in love and given birth to roughly ten black, white and yellow ducklings of their own. The blonde duck in this cartoon bears visual similarities to Daffy's girlfriend from Muscle Tussle (as well as a vague resemblance to the female pigeon Hatta Mari from Plane Daffy, 1944) and may represent the "origin" of the Melissa Duck character.
Melissa Duck first officially appeared by name in adult form in the original Looney Tunes short Chuck Jones' The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950) which was, in 1994, voted number 31 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. In the cartoon, she appears as a blonde damsel-in-distress and Daffy Duck's love interest. The plot followed Daffy attempting to save Fair Lady Melissa from having to marry the evil Grand Duke Sylvester with whom she is not in love.
Femme Fatale (aka 'The Body,' has also been referred to as Fowl Fatale or Shapely Lady Duck), from the 1952 Daffy Duck cartoon The Super Snooper, was a tall voluptuous bright blue-eyed, redheaded duck wearing red lipstick who bears a strong resemblance to Melissa Duck. In the cartoon, she fell madly in love with the inept detective Daffy was portraying at first sight. Femme Fatale also appears on the cover of volume 5 of the Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection, which indicates that she and Melissa may be considered the same character since unlike Femme Fatale, the identities of all of the other characters on the cover are well known Looney Tunes characters.
Later in Robert McKimson's Muscle Tussle (1953), Daffy Duck's girlfriend appears with him on a visit to the beach. The girlfriend's design in this cartoon is markedly more stylized than Melissa's appearance in The Scarlet Pumpernickel, but a contemporary comics adaptation of Muscle Tussle carried the name Melissa on to this new design as well. The voice of Melissa in this cartoon is obscure voice actor Gladys Holland, the narrator of UPA's classic 1952 adaptation of Ludwig Bemelmans's 1939 classic Madeline.
Another blonde, female duck featured in the Greg Ford and Terry Lennon 1987 cartoon The Duxorcist, the first Looney Tunes short released to theaters after the original series ended in 1969. A loose parody of William Friedkin's The Exorcist, the cartoon depicts the single, young duck as having become possessed by ghosts. Despite having paler feathers, the female duck from this cartoon physically appears very similar to Melissa from The Scarlet Pumpernickel; even more so than the designs in Muscle Tussle and Nasty Quacks.
Melissa Duck was the inspiration for the Shirley the Loon character on Tiny Toon Adventures, a spin-off series which follows the adventures of the next generation of Looney Tunes; each character being, to a degree, modeled after the original Looney Tunes. Shirley the Loon is a similar-looking blonde, female waterfowl with a romantic interest in the male duck character, Plucky Duck, who in turn is inspired by Daffy Duck. Despite the comparisons between Melissa and Shirley's characters, Melissa Duck never featured in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, despite other original Looney Tunes having done so.
Baby Looney Tunes
Melissa Duck's most notable role is from the series Baby Looney Tunes, which casts the adult characters from the original Looney Tunes theatrical shorts as their infant selves. Melissa had a crush on Daffy Duck ever since she was an infant. However, unlike well-known male characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, female characters were rare in the original shorts; with Melissa Duck, Petunia Pig and the Tasmanian She-Devil only making a couple appearances each, whilst Baby Looney Tunes character Lola Bunny was created for the 1996 movie Space Jam. In Baby Looney Tunes, Melissa, a yellow duckling with darker hair than her adult self, acts as a comedian and enjoys making her friends laugh, even though her humor sometimes gets her into trouble. She is voiced there by Janyse Jaud.
Comparison to Daffy Duck's other girlfriends and wives
Apart from his relationship with Melissa Duck, Daffy Duck has also appeared married in other Looney Tunes cartoons. For the most, Daffy's wife, usually referred to as Mrs. Daffy Duck, holds dominance over him in the marriage, forcing him to take an interest in their eggs or ducklings. In all the cartoons, the wife is portrayed as identical to Daffy but wearing female items of clothing (much the same way as the wives of the Tasmanian Devil and Porky Pig have been animated). In one short, Daffy's wife was given a name, Daphne Duck; she has also been nicknamed Honey Bunch and My Love.
In Wise Quacks (1939), Daffy is married to Mrs. Daffy Duck whose four eggs, which eventually hatch, must be protected by their father from a hungry buzzard.
In The Henpecked Duck (1941), Daffy is unhappily married to his dominant wife, Mrs. Daffy Duck, who appears identical to her husband but with a brimmed hat and a skirt. She seeks a divorce from him in the court of Judge Porky Pig as he lost their egg after commanding him to sit on it. In the end, however, Daffy proves the egg is not lost and it hatches into a small black duckling, Junior.
In The Stupid Cupid (1944), Daffy avoids being targeted by Cupid (played by fellow Looney Tune Elmer Fudd) as he is still suffering from their last encounter which forced him to marry a very dominant duck (whose father also managed to pressure the wedding by pressing a shotgun against Daffy during the ceremony). Again she looks very similar to Daffy in appearance; other than her white wedding dress shown in the family album, and the red hat she wears during the short which closely resembles her hat from The Henpecked Duck. The pair gave birth to six black ducklings including one which is two-headed.
In Stork Naked (1955), Daffy is married to a duck named Daphne who, once again, appears very similar to Daffy but this time wears a blue bow in her head. Although, Daphne wants to have (possibly more) children, Daffy is against the idea and attempts to stop the egg-delivering stork from arriving at their human-like house. According to the Big Cartoon Database, Daphne Duck was intended to become the duck equivalent of Bugs Bunny's girlfriend Honey Bunny, although she failed to become as popular as Honey had.
Finally, in Quackodile Tears (1962), Daffy is once again married to a fairly dominant wife, nicknamed Honey Bunch, who forces Daffy to sit on their egg (similar to the scenario in The Henpecked Duck). She also appears very similar to Daffy, but wears a pink skirt and bonnet. In the end, the egg hatches into a black duckling but Daffy had, in the course of the short, lost the unhatched egg in the middle of an alligator's nest of eggs.
In the 1950 short His Bitter Half, Daffy marries a different, large and grey duck for her money, but he soon runs away after experiencing her bossy ways and her son Wentworth's trouble-making which leads to Daffy getting scalped, beaten up and blown up by a firework.