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|Screwball "Screwy" Squirrel|
|Screwy Squirrel character|
|First appearance||Screwball Squirrel (1944)|
|Created by||Tex Avery|
Screwball "Screwy" Squirrel is a cartoon character, an anthropomorphic squirrel created by Tex Avery for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He is generally considered the wackiest and outright most antagonistic of the screwball cartoon characters of the 1940s.
Among the most outrageous cartoon characters ever created, Screwy can do almost anything to almost anyone: he pulls objects out of thin air, doubles himself, and constantly breaks the fourth wall, all the while uttering a characteristic cackling laugh. The character was not as successful as Avery's Droopy was at this time, and Screwy was killed off after appearing in only five cartoons: Screwball Squirrel (1944), Happy-Go-Nutty (1944), Big Heel-watha (1944), The Screwy Truant (1945), and Lonesome Lenny (1946).
The character was notable for being brash and erratic, and is considered by some to be annoying with few sympathetic personality characteristics such as Bugs Bunny's nobility or Daffy Duck's pathos. Most of his cartoons revolve around him inflicting various forms of torture on his enemy (usually Meathead Dog, voiced by Dick Nelson) for seven minutes. In The Screwy Truant, Screwy hits a dog across the head with everything he can find in a trunk labeled "Assorted Swell Stuff to Hit Dog on Head". When he finishes, the dog remarks, "Gee whiz! He hit me with everything but the kitchen sink!" Screwy responds with, "Well, don't want to disappoint you, chum," then pulls out that very item and bashes him over the head with it.
The final cartoon in the series, Lonesome Lenny, a broad parody of the characters of George and Lenny from the John Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men, ended with a joking reference to indicate that Screwy had been crushed to death by his antagonist, who commented "You know, I had a little friend once, but he don't move no more."
Both Screwy and his adversary Meathead Dog make a cameo appearance in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Screwy appears on a picture hanging in Lena Hyena's room, while Meathead is seen sniffing around at R. K. Maroon's Cartoon Studio in the film's beginning. Screwy is also mockingly mentioned as one of Eddie Valiant's bar patrons by Angelo: "Who's your client, Mr. Detective of the Stars? Chilly Willy, or Screwy Squirrel?"
Hanna Barbera resurrected Screwy in new animation for the Droopy, Master Detective Saturday morning cartoon on Fox Kids in 1993-1994. The new cartoons featured the character's name as Screwball—never Screwy—and pitted him not against Meathead, but a pair of typical Hanna-Barbera authority figures, human park attendant Dweeble and his oafish dog Rumply. "Screwball" himself wore a T-shirt and, much of the time, a Napoleon hat.
On April Fools' Day, 1997, Cartoon Network ran an edited version (minus one blackface gag) of the 1944 Screwy Squirrel cartoon Happy-Go-Nutty repeatedly from 6 AM to 6 PM, as part of an April Fool's joke that the cartoon character had taken over the channel.
In 2013, both Meathead and Screwy Squirrel make appearances as residents of "Fairy Land" in Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure retaining most of their traits. Screwy Squirrel is now voiced by Paul Reubens and Meathead is voiced by John DiMaggio.
- Wally Maher (1944—1946)
- Charlie Adler (Droopy Master Detective)
- Paul Reubens (Tom and Jerry's Giant Adventure)
- Adamson, Joe, Tex Avery: King of Cartoons, 1975, Da Capo Press