||This article may contain original research. (February 2009)|
Tweety in the Friz Freleng design. This is also his current appearance.
|First appearance||A Tale of Two Kitties (November 21, 1942)|
|Created by||Robert Clampett (original)
Friz Freleng (final redesign)
|Voiced by||Mel Blanc (1942-1989, 2011)
Jeff Bergman (1990-1993, 2011-current)
Bob Bergen (1994-present)
Joe Alaskey (The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries) (1995-present)
Eric Goldberg (Looney Tunes: Back in Action)
Billy West (Museum Scream)
Samuel Vincent (Baby Looney Tunes)
Greg Burson (Animaniacs)
|Species||Tweety Bird (fictional)
Yellow Canary (actual)
Tweety Bird (also known as Tweety Pie or simply Tweety) is a fictional Yellow Canary in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated cartoons. The name "Tweety" is a play on words, as it originally meant "sweetie", along with "tweet" being a typical English onomatopoeia for the sounds of birds. His characteristics are based on Red Skelton's famous "Mean Widdle Kid." Tweety appeared in 49 cartoons in the Golden Age.
Despite the perceptions that people may hold, owing to the long lashes and high pitched voice of Tweety, Tweety is male. This is established several times in the animated series The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, and in the film-short Bad Ol' Putty Tat when Sylvester tries to trick Tweety using a fake female bird. On the other hand, a 1951 cartoon was entitled "Ain't She Tweet." Also, his species is ambiguous; although originally and often portrayed as a young canary, he is also frequently called a rare and valuable "tweety bird" as a plot device, and once called "the only living specimen". Nevertheless, the title song directly states that the bird is a canary. His shape more closely suggests that of a baby bird, which in fact is what he was during his early appearances (although the "baby bird" aspect has been used in a few later cartoons as a plot device). The yellow feathers were added but otherwise he retained the baby-bird shape.
In his early appearances in Bob Clampett cartoons, Tweety is a very aggressive character who tries anything to foil his foe, even kicking his enemy when he is down. Tweety was toned down when Friz Freleng started directing the series into a more cutesy bird, and even more when Granny was introduced, however sometimes Tweety still kept his malicious side. One of his most notable "malicious" moments is in the cartoon Birdy and the Beast; when a cat tries to chase Tweety by flying and falls after remembering that cats cannot fly, Tweety says sympathetically, "Awww, the poor kitty cat! He faw down and go (in a loud, tough, masculine voice) BOOM!!", after which he grins mischievously. A similar gag was used in A Tale Of Two Kitties when Tweety, wearing an air raid warden's helmet, suddenly yells out in that same voice: "Turn out those lights!"
Creation by Bob Clampett
Bob Clampett created the character that would become Tweety in the 1942 short A Tale of Two Kitties, pitting him against two hungry cats named Babbit and Catstello (based on the famous comedians Abbott and Costello). On the original model sheet, Tweety was named Orson (which was also the name of a bird character from an earlier Clampett cartoon Wacky Blackout).
Tweety was originally not a domestic canary, but simply a generic (and wild) baby bird in an outdoors nest - naked (pink), jowly, and also far more aggressive and saucy, as opposed to the later, more well-known version of him as a less hot-tempered (but still somewhat ornery) yellow canary. In the documentary Bugs Bunny: Superstar, animator Clampett stated, in a sotto voce "aside" to the audience, that Tweety had been based "on my own naked baby picture". Clampett did two more shorts with the "naked genius", as a Jimmy Durante-ish cat once called him in A Gruesome Twosome. The second Tweety short, Birdy and the Beast, finally bestowed the baby bird with his new name.
Many of Mel Blanc's characters are known for speech impediments. One of Tweety's most noticeable is that /s/, /k/, and /g/ are changed to /t/, /d/, or (final s) /θ/; for example, "pussy cat" comes out as "putty tat", later rendered "puddy tat", and "sweetie pie" comes out as "tweetie pie", hence his name. He also has trouble with liquid sounds; as with Elmer Fudd, /l/ and /r/ tend to come out as /w/. In Canary Row and Putty Tat Trouble,he begins the cartoon singing a song about himself, "I'm a tweet wittow biwd in a gilded cage; Tweety'th my name but I don't know my age. I don't have to wuwy and dat is dat; I'm tafe in hewe fwom dat ol' putty tat." (Translation: "I'm a sweet little bird in a gilded cage...") Aside from this speech challenge, Tweety's voice (and a fair amount of his attitude) is similar to that of Bugs Bunny, rendered as a child (in The Old Grey Hare, Bugs' infant voice was very similar to Tweety's normal voice), which was achieved by speeding up Mel Blanc's voice recordings of Tweety Bird.
Freleng takes over
Clampett began work on a short that would pit Tweety against a then-unnamed, lisping black and white cat created by Friz Freleng in 1945. However, Clampett left the studio before going into full production on the short, and Freleng took on the project. Freleng toned Tweety down and gave him a cuter appearance, including large blue eyes and yellow feathers. Clampett mentions in Bugs Bunny: Superstar that the feathers were added to satisfy censors who objected to the naked bird. The first short to team Tweety and the cat, later named Sylvester, was 1947's Tweetie Pie, which won Warner Bros. its first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
Sylvester and Tweety proved to be one of the most notable pairings in animation history. Most of their cartoons followed a standard formula:
- The hungry Sylvester wanting to eat the bird, but some major obstacle stands in his way – usually Granny or her bulldog Hector (or occasionally, numerous bulldogs, or another cat who wants to eat Tweety).
- Tweety saying his signature lines "I tawt I taw a puddy tat!" and "I did! I did taw a puddy tat!" (Originally "I did! I taw a puddy tat!", but the extra "did" got inserted somehow). Eventually, someone must have commented on the grammar of "...did taw..."; in later cartoons, Tweety says "I did! I did tee a puddy tat!".
- Sylvester spending the entire film using progressively more elaborate schemes or devices to capture his meal, similar to Wile E. Coyote in his ongoing efforts to catch roadrunners. Of course, each of his tricks fail, either due to their flaws or, more often than not, because of intervention by either Hector the Bulldog or an indignant Granny (voiced by Bea Benaderet and later June Foray), or after Tweety steers the enemy toward them or another device (such as off the ledge of a tall building or an oncoming train).
In 1951, Mel Blanc (with Billy May's orchestra) had a hit single with "I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat", a song performed in character by Tweety and featuring Sylvester. In the lyrics Sylvester sings "I'd like to eat that Sweetie Pie when he leaves his cage", implying that Tweety's name is actually Sweetie Pie, altered in its pronunciation by Tweetie's rhotacism. Sylvester, who has his own speech issues involving the letters S and P, slobbers the "S" in "Sweetie Pie", just as he would the "S" sounds in his own name. Later the same name was applied to the young, pink female canary in the Tiny Toon Adventures animated TV series of the early 1990s.
From 1945 until the original Warner Bros. Cartoons studio closed, Freleng had almost exclusive use of Tweety at the Warner cartoon studio (much like Yosemite Sam), with the exception of a brief cameo in No Barking in 1954, directed by Chuck Jones (that year, Freleng used Pepé Le Pew, a Jones character, for the only time in his career and the only time in a Tweety short, Dog Pounded).
Tweety had a cameo appearance in My Book about Me.
Tweety had a small part in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, "accidentally" causing Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to fall from a pole by playing "This Little Piddy" with Valiant's fingers and loosening his grip. The scene is essentially a re-creation of a gag from A Tale of Two Kitties, with Valiant replacing Catstello as Tweety's victim.
During the 1990s, Tweety also starred in an animated TV series called The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, in which Granny ran a detective agency with the assistance of Tweety, Sylvester and Hector. Tweety has the starring role and carries the story in the 2000 direct-to-video feature length animated film "Tweety's High-Flying Adventure" he has a girlfriend called Aooga, he is not married, and doesn't have any children. In 2002, a younger version of him premiered on Baby Looney Tunes, thus coming full circle from his earliest appearances.
Tweety appeared in an early 1980s public service announcement, warning parents of the dangers of scalding-temperature bath water.
In the 1995 cartoon short Carrotblanca, a parody/homage to Casablanca, Tweety appeared as "Usmarte", a parody of the character Ugarte played by Peter Lorre in the original film. In several sequences, Tweety was speaking and laughing in character like Peter Lorre. He also does the Looney Tunes ending instead of Porky Pig or Bugs Bunny. This is also notable for being a rare instance where Tweety is playing a villain character.
In the game Taz: Wanted, Tweety assists Taz in destroying "Wanted" posters and gives him hints throughout the game. In the game, he refers to Taz as "Puddy-Taz" and expresses a dislike for him, thinking that he shouldn't be working with amateurs. At the end of the game, Tweety reveals himself to be the mastermind behind Yosemite Sam's evil plan, and fights Taz using a large robot, but is defeated.
In the television show Loonatics Unleashed, Tweety's descendant, known as The Royal Tweetums, rules the planet Blanc in the care of its present ruler, Queen Grannicus (Granny's descendant). Grannicus didn't want to turn her monarchy over to him, so she hired Sylth Vester (Sylvester's descendant), to eliminate him. But with the help of the Loonatics, Tweetums defeats Grannicus and Sylth Vester.
Tweety appears as part of the TuneSquad team in Space Jam. There, he gets picked on and bullied by the Monsters due to his small size, until he retaliates by using ken po moves on them. He also appears in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, although in his second appearance, this "Tweety" is really the Tasmanian Devil in disguise.
Tweety was mentioned in the Total Drama Action episode "One Million Bucks B.C."
In the MAD segment "Dinosaurs with bird effects", Sylvester appeared as a saber-toothed cat and Tweety appeared as a dinosaur. In another MAD segment "Body of Pwoof" (a parody of Body of Proof) Tweety appeared as a translator for Elmer Fudd's speech impediment wile Elmer, working as a doctor tries to figure out who killed Road Runner.
Tweety is featured, with his Looney Tunes co-stars, in Cartoon Network's series, The Looney Tunes Show. He is voiced by Jeff Bergman. He appeared in the episode Devil Dog, where he and Sylvester work together to avoid getting eating by Taz. He later was revealed to have fought in WWII alongside a young Granny. Sylvester also asked him how old he was, to which Tweety replied, "I'll never tell." Sylvester then asked if Tweety would at least tell him if he (Tweety) was a boy or a girl. Tweety whispered into his ear and Sylvester had a surprised expression, and said "Huh, I was wrong."
Tweety has appeared in the video games The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal, Bugs Bunny & Taz: Time Busters, Looney Tunes: Space Race, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2.
Western Publications produced a comic book about Tweety and Sylvester entitled Tweety and Sylvester, first in Dell Comics Four Color series #406, 489, and 524, then in their own title from Dell Comics (#4-37, 1954–62), then later from Gold Key Comics (#1-102, 1963–72).
Tweety's Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies filmography
Directed by Bob Clampett
Directed by Friz Freleng
- Tweetie Pie (1947) -MM
- I Taw a Putty Tat (1948) -MM
- Bad Ol' Putty Tat (1949) -MM
- Home Tweet Home (1950) -MM
- All a Bir-r-r-rd (1950) -LT
- Canary Row (1950) -MM
- Putty Tat Trouble (1951) -LT
- Room and Bird (1951) -MM
- Tweety's S.O.S. (1951) -MM
- Tweet Tweet Tweety (1951) -LT
- Gift Wrapped (1952)-LT
- Ain't She Tweet (1952) -LT
- A Bird In A Guilty Cage (1952)-LT
- Snow Business (1953)-LT
- Fowl Weather (1953)-MM
- Tom Tom Tomcat (1953)-MM
- A Street Cat Named Sylvester (1953)-LT
- Catty Cornered (1953)-MM
- Dog Pounded (1954)-LT
- Muzzle Tough (1954)-MM
- Satan's Waitin' (1954)-LT
- Sandy Claws (1955)-LT
- Tweety's Circus (1955)-MM
- Red Riding Hoodwinked (1955)-LT
- Heir-Conditioned (1955)-cameo appearance-LT
- Tweet and Sour (1956)-LT
- Tree Cornered Tweety (1956)-MM
- Tugboat Granny (1956)-MM
- Tweet Zoo (1957)-MM
- Tweety and the Beanstalk (1957)-MM
- Birds Anonymous (1957)-MM
- Greedy For Tweety (1957)-LT
- A Pizza Tweety Pie (1958)-LT
- A Bird in a Bonnet (1958)-MM
- Trick or Tweet (1959)-MM
- Tweet and Lovely (1959)-MM
- Tweet Dreams (1959)-LT
- Hyde and Go Tweet (1960)-MM
- Trip For Tat (1960)-MM
- The Rebel Without Claws (1961)-LT
- The Last Hungry Cat (1961)-MM
- The Jet Cage (1962)-LT
Directed by Gerry Chiniquy
- Hawaiian Aye Aye (1964)-MM
Directed by Chuck Jones
- No Barking (1954) - in cameo appearances-MM
- (MM-Merrie Melodies)
- (LT-Looney Tunes)
Post-Golden Age of American animation
- Tiny Toon Adventures (1990), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- Carrotblanca (1995), voiced by Bob Bergen
- Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (1995), voiced by Joe Alaskey
- Space Jam (1996), voiced by Bob Bergen
- Tweety's High-Flying Adventure (2000)
- Baby Looney Tunes (2002), voiced by Samuel Vincent
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), voiced by Eric Goldberg
- Museum Scream (2004), voiced by Billy West
- Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006), voiced by Bob Bergen
- The Looney Tunes Show (2011), voiced by Jeff Bergman
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