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Speedy Gonzales, from the 1955 short Speedy Gonzales.
|First appearance||Cat-Tails for Two (1953)|
|Created by||Robert McKimson (original)
Friz Freleng/Hawley Pratt (redesign)
|Voiced by||Mel Blanc (1953–1989)
Joe Alaskey (commercials, Tiny Toon Adventures, Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor)
Eric Goldberg (Looney Tunes: Back in Action)
Bob Bergen (Looney Tunes: Back in Action (video game), Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas )
Fred Armisen (The Looney Tunes Show)
|Relatives||Slowpoke Rodriguez (cousin)|
Speedy Gonzales (commonly shortened to just Speedy) is an animated caricature of a mouse in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He is portrayed as "The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico" with his major traits being the ability to run extremely fast and speaking with an exaggerated Mexican accent. He usually wears an oversized yellow hat of Mexican charro, white shirt and trousers (which was a common traditional outfit worn by men and boys of rural Mexican villages), and a red kerchief, similar to that of some traditional Mexican attires. To date, there have been 46 cartoons made either starring or featuring this character.
According to William Anthony Nericcio, the name derives from a joke about a Mexican man nicknamed "Speedy" either because of his premature ejaculation or quick copulation, though the name of the character was not intended to be derogatory.
It would be two years before Friz Freleng and animator Hawley Pratt redesigned the character into his modern incarnation for the 1955 Freleng short, Speedy Gonzales. The cartoon features Sylvester the Cat guarding a cheese factory at the United States-Mexican border from a group of starving Mexican mice. The mice call in the plucky, excessively energetic Speedy to save them, and amid cries of "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! ¡Epa! Yeehaw!" (Spanish for "Go on! Go on! Up! Up!", although "Ándale arriba" may have been intended as meaning "hurry up") courtesy of Mel Blanc, Sylvester soon gets his comeuppance. The cartoon won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
While Speedy's last name was given as Gonzalez in Cat-Tails (on a printed business card shown in the cartoon), it was spelled with an 's' from Speedy Gonzales onward. Today, the earlier spelling is occasionally used by accident.
Freleng and McKimson soon set Sylvester up as Speedy's regular nemesis in a series of cartoons, much in the same way Chuck Jones had paired Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner in his Road Runner cartoons. Sylvester (often called "El Gringo Pussygato" by Speedy) is constantly outsmarted and outrun by the Mouse, causing the cat to suffer all manner of pain and humiliation from mousetraps to accidentally consuming large amounts of Tabasco hot sauce. Other cartoons pair the mouse with his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, the "slowest Mouse in all Mexico." Slowpoke regularly gets into all sorts of trouble that often require Speedy to save him—but one cat in Mexicali Shmoes says that as if to compensate for his slowness, "he pack a gun!" In the mid 1960s, Speedy's main nemesis became Daffy Duck.
Notable cartoon appearances
- Cat-Tails for Two (1953) - Debut, prototype
- Speedy Gonzales (1955)
- Tabasco Road (1957)
- The Pied Piper of Guadalupe (1961)
- ‡ Academy Award winner, 28th (1955) - Short Subject (Cartoon)
- † Academy Award nominated
Concern about stereotypes
Feeling that the character presented an offensive Mexican stereotype, Cartoon Network shelved Speedy's films when it gained exclusive rights to broadcast them in 1999 (As a subsidiary of Time Warner, Cartoon Network is a corporate sibling to Warner Bros.). In an interview with Fox News on March 28, 2002, Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg commented, "It hasn't been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes. This is widely believed to refer to Speedy's fellow mice buddies, who are all shown as being very slow and lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated."
Despite such controversy over potentially offensive characterizations, Speedy Gonzales remained a popular character in Latin America. The Hispanic-American rights organization League of United Latin American Citizens called Speedy a "cultural icon", and thousands of users registered their support of the character on the hispaniconline.com message boards. Fan campaigns to put Speedy back on the air resulted in the return of the animated shorts to Cartoon Network in 2002.
- The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were false then and are still false today. While the following does not represent the WB view of society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim these prejudices never existed.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2012)|
In 1983, he co-starred in Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island. In 1988, he made a cameo appearance in the ending scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He had one appearance in the Tiny Toons episode segment "The Acme Acres Summer Olympics", as the coach, and serving as the mentor of Lightning Rodriguez. In 1996, he made a short appearance in film Space Jam. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance alongside Porky Pig in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, making fun of his politically incorrect status. At around the same time, he made a non-speaking cameo in an episode of ¡Mucha Lucha! titled "Lucha, Rinse and Repeat". In 2009, he made a cameo appearance on Kid vs. Kat in "The Kat Whisperer".
Volume 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series, released on November 14, 2006, has an entire disc of Speedy shorts, although some of his other shorts had previously been released on Volumes 1 and 3. Speedy is mentioned in one Duck Dodgers episode, after Cadet sits on Dodgers, prompting him to say, "I knew I should've chosen Speedy Gonzales as a sidekick!"
Speedy Gonzales also appears occasionally on The Looney Tunes Show, living with Bugs and Daffy as their "mouse in the wall" and running the pizza parlor Pizzariba. He is shown to act as Daffy's "Jiminy Cricket", which is a far cry from the antagonistic relationship they had in the old days. The episode "Sunday Night Slice" showed that Bugs bought his favorite restaurant to prevent it from being closed and hired Speedy to help him. When Bugs decides he doesn't want to own a restaurant anymore, he hands ownership of it to Speedy. In "The Black Widow," Speedy Gonzales answers Daffy Duck's call and races to Tacapulco to convince Sheriff Slowpoke Rodriguez to let Daffy Duck and Porky Pig out of jail.
In other media
In 1962, pop singer Pat Boone scored a top 10 hit in the United States with the song "Speedy Gonzales" which featured Mel Blanc spouting faux-Mexican phrases as Speedy. It was also sung by Manolo Muñoz and A.B. Quintanilla's Kumbia All Starz, whose music video featured Speedy.
Speedy Gonzales starred in several video games: Cheese Cat-Astrophe Starring Speedy Gonzales for the Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System and Game Gear, Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Bandidos for the SNES, Speedy Gonzales for the Game Boy and Speedy Gonzales: Aztec Adventure for the Game Boy Color. He also appeared as an enemy in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and Looney Tunes: Marvin Strikes Back! as both a miniboss and playable character.
A February 2010 blog post by Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter revealed plans of a New Line Cinema live-action/CG-animated feature film based on the Looney Tunes character, to be voiced by comedian George Lopez. The source of this information was an interview with Ann Serrano, now former spouse Mr. Lopez. As of October 2013, no further news of a film production has been released.
- List of Speedy Gonzales cartoons
- List of films based on cartoons
- List of Looney Tunes feature-length films
- "Puebla: trajes típicos". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- Nericcio, William Anthony (2007). Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. University of Texas Press. p. 139. ISBN 0-292-71457-2.
- "Speedy Gonzales and Slowpoke Rodriguez in Mexicali Shmoes". YouTube. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
- "The 28th Academy Awards (1955) Nominees and Winners - Short Subject (Cartoon)". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- Park, Michael Y. (March 28, 2002). "Speedy Gonzales Caged by Cartoon Network". FoxNews.com. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Emling, Shelly (June 21, 2002). "A Speedy return: Cartoon Network putting Mexican mouse back in the lineup". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. p. 10B. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
- "Arriba! VW Turns to Speedy Gonzales To Push GTI". Indiacar.net. March 20, 2006. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- "Heat Vision - The Hollywood Reporter". Heatvisionblog.com. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
- Nericcio, William Anthony (1996). “Autopsy of a Rat: Odd, Sundry Parables of Freddy Lopez, Speedy Gonzales, and Other Chicano/Latino Marionettes Prancing about Our First World Visual Emporium.” Camera Obscura 37 (January 1996): 189-237.
- Nericcio, William Anthony (2007). Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. University of Texas Press.
- Schneider, Steve (1990). That's All Folks!: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation. Henry Holt & Co.
- Solomon, Charles (1994). The History of Animation: Enchanted Drawings. Random House Value Publishing.
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- The Tex(t)-Mex Galleryblog an archive for the second edition of the University of Texas Press (2007) book on stereotypes.