March 25, 2003

Mel Blanc/Daws Butler

i don't mind if you'd re-print my first e-mail about Mel Blanc. however, the reason i had brought up Mel in the first place is that i got the impression in Daws Butler's interview that he didn't like Mel Blanc too much? i got that impression when i saw in an interview of his telling how to do a Mexican and he gave two examples of a Mexican's voice and then he said: "a Mexican wouldn't say 'I teenk i do dis, no i do dat', sounds too much like Mel Blanc.." well, when i saw that i got the impression that Daws and Mel didn't like one another. i also saw an interview with Mel and he said that his goal was to do broad exaggerations of dialects based on stereotypes and he said that he really never tried to do accents and dialects accurately as Daws did. i just wanted to get out Mel's side of the story as to why only he was given voice credit during much of the theatrical shorts (excluding Arthur Q. Bryan, Stan Freberg, and June Foray).

That is very interesting. Everyone always said that Daws was one of the kindest and nicest men in show biz. We don't really know for sure, with that quote, if he didn't care for Mel, but it does kind of suggest that. Mel, on the other hand, I had been told was rather bitter, after he had that auto accident in the early 60s which broke every bone in his body and nearly killed him. I was told that he continued to have some pain in his joints/back even years after he left the hospital. A terrible accident in itself, however, does not always render someone bitter and mad. Just telling you what had been passed on to me though; I try to be as fair as possible on all sides.

a web site created by Mark Evanier called P.O.V. dedicates some pages to Daws and that's are the one where i picked up the paragraph in which Daws talks about how to do accents, the way he taught his students in his voice class.

i think i know the reason why Mel might've been bitter after his accident. it had nothing to do with his peers and practically everything to do with the quality of the scripts for the cartoons he was given. while some may scratch their head and say: "wait a minute, it's only a cartoon...who pays attention to the dialogue?". you'd be surprised...you all already know that voice actors are like movie or TV actors in that everyone wants a good/great script.

Well, I felt that a lot of the scripts for the Warner Bros. cartoons were some of the best scripts every written and even a bit sophisticated. Perhaps some of them were a little silly but they were really very entertaining. The music that accompanied these cartoons was always great. The animation was quite good too. I also loved Hanna-Barbera's Flintstones series, that Mel participated in. There were quite a lot of H-B cartoons, however, that I did not think were very good at all.

i also know that Mel was furious over all the pirates in the music industry releasing so called Bugs Bunny albums with some OTHER voice doing the role. it burnt him up to hear a character he and the writers created in which acted and talked totally different from what Bugs was really like.

also, in the early '80s he was frustrated that there was no original cartoons anymore...97% of the cartoons were based on children's books or toys. this is why Mel's biggest work in the 1980's lay with the different Warner Brothers cartoon specials that aired during the holidays; of course, Mel was the voice of the termites on the Raid TV commercials plus the many TV commercials for Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles in which he voiced Barney Rubble. as i said in the first e-mail, Mel's only original character during the '80s was "Heathcliff" and to an "actor", it was frustrating with the lack of new characters to give a voice to.

His studio manager also told me that by the 70s he just was not really getting that much work anymore, relatively speaking. Paul Frees was doing much better. Though he never stopped working those years, he just felt like he was not very competetive anymore. He even put together an audtion tape around that time, to help him get more work. His studio manager sent me a copy of that.

since my last e-mail, i have received the DVD i ordered of "Beany and Cecil". i got the DVD because i like the animated "Beany and Cecil" but what sealed the deal for me was the bonus feature: four 15 minute episodes of "Time for Beany", the puppet show from Bob Clampett that ran from 1949-1956. Daws Butler and Stan Freberg were the actual puppeteers of the show! Daws was Beany and Captain Huffenpuff and Stan was Cecil, the Seasick Sea Serpent as well as the main villain called Dishonest John.

Other puppets came and went (the most memorable to fans is Tearalong the Dotted Lion simply because of the name!) that were talked by either Daws or Stan. Of course by today's standards the puppet show looks inferior but it's still a cute program and another centerpiece for Daws' voices.

In Keith Scott's book about Jay Ward cartoons he does say that Time for Beany was a very popular show, including among adults, in its day. Daws said that the show only ran 5 years. I thought it ran from 1948-1953. I looked it up on the internet, however, and it said 1949-1954. Maybe there were 2 seasons of re-runs. I remember that there was a cartoon version of the show, sometime in the 60s.

Brian