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Dick Dastardly as seen in Wacky Races
|Created by||William Hanna & Joseph Barbera|
|Voiced by||Paul Winchell (1968–1991)
John Stephenson (Laff-A-Lympics)
Michael Bell (The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera)
Rob Paulsen (in Yo Yogi!)
Jim Cummings (2000)
Chikao Ohtsuka (Japanese)
Richard Milhous "Dick" Dastardly is a fictional character and antagonist who appeared in various animated series by Hanna-Barbera Productions. Dastardly's most famous appearances are as a main character in the series Wacky Races (his initial appearance) and its spin-off, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. He is partly based on the English actor Terry-Thomas.
The character was voiced originally by Paul Winchell, then by Rob Paulsen and currently by Jim Cummings. Winchell's facial structures were caricatured in the related character design as well. In various scenes, Dastardly would utter his catchphrases, "Drat, drat and double drat!" or "Triple drat!" and even "Curses, foiled again!" His other main catchphrase was, "Muttley, do something!"
In Wacky Races, Dastardly was one of the drivers who competed in each episode for first place, in a long and hazard-filled cross-country road rally. As his name implies, Dastardly aimed to win solely through cheating and trickery. His race car, "The Mean Machine", featured all sorts of devious traps for him to use against his opponents. As Wacky Races is inspired by the film The Great Race, so was Dastardly derived from the film's chief villain, Professor Fate, played by Jack Lemmon. Dastardly in this series wore old-fashioned racer's gear — a long blue duster overcoat often worn by early motorists, along with long red gloves, and a large striped hat with driving goggles attached, and sporting a handlebar mustache.
Dastardly was aided in his schemes by his sidekick, a scruffy anthropomorphic dog named Muttley who had a distinctive wheezy laugh, heard most often when Dastardly's schemes failed. Despite Dastardly and Muttley's attempts, the "double-dealing do-badders", as the opening narration of Wacky Races describes them, failed to win a single race. Dastardly's plans were always foiled either by his or Muttley's incompetence, the actions of another racer, or sheer bad luck, resulting in Dastardly crossing the finish line last, if at all. On some occasions Dastardly is very close to winning, but he will fail at the final hurdle. Once Dastardly had an opportunity to win legitimately, but he stopped in front of the finish line to pose for his picture as it was a photo finish. Another time, he came close to winning the race, but stopped to sign an autograph for Muttley, ending up in fourth place again. Another time Dastardly almost crossed the Finish Line first-until Muttley sabotaged his chances of winning! On one occasion, however, Dastardly did cross the finish line in first place, although the judges demanded to see a replay and it showed that Dastardly had extended the nose of his car at the last minute, and so Dastardly was denied the victory in favour of Penelope Pitstop (although in a later episode, another racer used a similar tactic from last place and was declared the winner, implying that the judges were biased against Dastardly; what's more, the actual finish of the race showed Dastardly crossing without extending his nose, suggesting that the judges may have doctored the footage, again out of bias). In one race Dastardly and Muttley did cross the Finish line first without cheating-but were disqualified because-due to a series of comic mishaps-they were in the wrong car.
Often it appears that if Dastardly had not bothered to cheat, then he might have won fairly. Upon tasting defeat, Dastardly would utter his catchphrases, "Drat, drat, and double drat!", "Triple drat!" and even "Curses, foiled again!" His other main catchphrase was "Muttley, do something!" Excluding Dastardly and Muttley, each of the other racers won three or four of the Wacky Races.
Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
Dick Dastardly continued his villainous career in the Wacky Races spin-off; Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The series was inspired by the 1965 film Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and Dastardly's appearance is based on the film's villain, Sir Percival Ware-Armitage, played by Terry-Thomas. Dastardly and Muttley with two other pilots; Zilly, a coward who used to hide in his clothes when he was ordered to deploy, and Klunk, the mechanic/inventor, who speaks a language largely composed of strange sounds that only Zilly can understand, comprised the "Vulture Squadron". The squadron constantly attempt to stop a messenger pigeon "Yankee Doodle pigeon" from delivering messages to an opposing army, often with the song "Stop the Pigeon" playing; one typical scene shows the "Vulture Squadron" planes all converging from different directions on "Yankee Doodle Pigeon" but end up crashing into one another-while the bird remains unharmed. As in Wacky Races, Dastardly continued to fail miserably at his mission, only coming near to success on a single occasion. The series is commonly known as 'Catch the Pigeon' or 'Stop the Pigeon', based on the original working title and the series' theme song.
In the TV series Laff-A-Lympics, there was a similar looking (and sounding) character to Dastardly named "The Dread Baron", voiced by John Stephenson. In fact, the similarity caused the translators in Brazil to mistake him for Dastardly (in issue #12 of the Laff-A-Lympics comic book by Marvel Comics, Dread Baron and Dastardly are twin brothers). The character's name, "Dread Baron", is an obvious pun on the name of the infamous World War I fighter pilot, the Red Baron (he also bears some similarities to the Red Max, another character from the Wacky Races series). In this series, the Dread Baron was seen wearing a World War I-era German fighter pilot's uniform. The Dread Baron accompanied Mumbly, a dog that was very similar to Muttley, only with grey fur, and an orange trenchcoat. Mumbly actually had his own series in which he was a detective, and in a role-reversal, Mumbly acted as the team captain of the Really Rottens in Laugh-a-Lympics with the Dread Baron and others serving as team members. The two later appeared in the made-for-TV movie Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose, where the Dread Baron and Mumbly are first seen in Dick Dastardly's plane from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.
It is not certain why Dread Baron and especially Mumbly (who was a good guy in his original series) were used in roles that were identical to Dastardly and Muttley, especially for the Yogi Bear movie. Previously, it was assumed that Dread Baron was created as a substitute because Paul Winchell was not available for Laff-a-Lympics, where John Stephenson provided the Baron's voice. However, Winchell was available for the Yogi Bear TV movie, yet voiced the Dread Baron, not Dastardly. It's also been speculated that there were complications in using the characters due to Hanna-Barbera sharing the rights to Dick Dastardly and Muttley with Heatter-Quigley Productions.
Yogi's Treasure Hunt
In later years, Dastardly and Muttley were the nemeses for Yogi Bear and his friends in the 1980s series Yogi's Treasure Hunt. This time, Dick repeatedly failed at discovering hidden treasure before Yogi and his team. It was in this series' episode Yogi's Heroes that Dick's full name was revealed; as the leader of an island named Dicaragua, he introduced himself as Richard Milhous Dastardly (an obvious play on former U.S. President Richard Milhous Nixon). One episode shows that Dastardly and Muttley are the greediest creatures in the world.
Fender Bender 500
Dick Dastardly and Muttley were in the "Fender Bender 500" shorts on the early 1990s short-lived series Wake, Rattle, and Roll. In those segments, the duo once again appeared in a suped-up version of the Mean Machine as a monster truck called the Dirty Truckster (a pun on the phrase "dirty trickster"), but raced against such Hanna-Barbera stalwarts as Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw. In this series, they were actually able to pull off a win when racing to Russia's 'Red Square'. Unfortunately, their prize was simply a red square of paper, and not the deed to the Russian capital as the title of 'red square' would imply. In another Fender Bender race (The "Hit 'n' Mississippi 500"), he played on Yogi Bear's famous catchphrase of being "smarter than the average bear" by claiming to be "smarter than the average cheat".
Dick Dastardly (alongside Muttley) appeared as a child (known as Dickie) in the short-lived series Yo Yogi! voiced by Rob Paulsen. In the series he rides a bicycle that resembles the Mean Machine and his clothes resemble his ones from Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines. Dick Dastardly would often come up with various plots which would often backfire on him.
- Universal Studios Florida formerly had a motion simulator ride titled The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera which was a tribute to Hanna-Barbara cartoons; Dastardly (voiced by Michael Bell) kidnaps Elroy Jetson, so Yogi and Boo-Boo Bear have to travel across the various worlds of Hanna-Barbera to rescue him. At the end of the ride Dastardly is arrested and sent to a flying jail cell.
- Dick Dastardly, Muttley, and the Mean Machine returned as a boss car in the 2000 Wacky Races video game voiced by Jim Cummings and Billy West. They are the protagonists in the earlier 1991 version.
- Dick Dastardly made a non-speaking cameo in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law episode "Death By Chocolate".
- In the pilot of Wacky Races Forever Dastardly (voiced by Jim Cummings) and Muttley are the main villains, working for the vice-president of Perfect Industries in an attempt to stop the other racers from crossing the finish line. The series was not picked up by the network.
- Dastardly and Muttley were to appear in the series The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, where they (especially Dastardly) would have been perfect villains given the tone and the Perils of Pauline references, rather they were imagined to be the bodyguards of a younger brother of Penelope. However, this was only in the first sketches of the series, and the two did not appear in the final work. At one of their encounters, the Hooded Claw did ask Penelope "Who did you expect, Dick Dastardly?" possibly in reference to the above unshot scene.
- Dastardly and Muttley cameo in the Uncle Grandpa episode "Uncle Grandpa Retires" as attendees at the Big Race.
- Dick Dastardly appears as one of the main characters in 2016's Wacky Raceland. In this version, it is revealed that before the Apocalyptic event that ravished the Earth, Dick Dastardly was a world-famous pianist named Richard D'Astardlien, who agreed to enter the race to Earth's last known paradise Utopia, so he could have a chance of seeing his wife and son being reborn.
- Dastardly and Muttley appear as contestants in a futuristic car race against Philip J. Fry, in the Futurama comics #82.
- McCann, Graham (December 2011). "5". Bounder!: The Biography of Terry-Thomas. Aurum Press. ISBN 9781845137564. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
Terry-Thomas ... and Eric Sykes ... formed a very effective on-screen double-act, (which ended up inspiring a pair of cartoon alter egos – Dick Dastardly and Muttley – in the popular Hanna-Barbera/Warner Brothers series Wacky Races.