Didn't Tex Avery do a lot of the voices in his cartoons?
Not as many as is generally believed. Tex was a lovely, funny man and he would talk for hours about his work and animation
history. His memory was pretty good and he was very honest so pretty much everything he said seems to have been true...
...except in one area. Tex said he had done certain voices in his films and he would sometimes replicate his performances for
eager questioners, myself included. Naturally, it got into print several times that he'd supplied the voice of Junior (in the George &
Junior films); that he did Meathead, the dumb dog in Screwball Squirrel; that he occasionally provided Droopy's voice, etc. None of
these is apparently true.
The voices of both George and Junior were done by a gentleman named Dick Nelson, who also did Meathead. Droopy's mush-mouth was
filled by a number of people — primarily Bill Thompson but also Don Messick and Daws Butler. And while it's possible Tex did him for a
line or two, he did not — as has been claimed in print — speak often for Droopy.
In Meatless Flyday, a Warner Brothers cartoon made several years after Tex left the studio, the lead character sounds a lot like
Tex, and he told several of us that he'd done it as a favor to Friz Freleng. It is possible that Tex did go back to WB and record the
role...but in the finished film, the voice in question is that of Cy Kendall, a prominent radio actor of the day.
Tex did do voices occasionally in his films. For instance, he did the evil bulldog in Bad Luck Blackie. He did the
voices that came out of the bottle in Ham-Ateur Night. He was heard as at least one of the bugs that screamed "RAID!" in the animated
commercials for Raid insecticide. There were a number of others — usually snickering or laughing.
The belief that he did all those other, larger parts probably stems from the fact that he would act out the material when it was
discussed in the office, and would often have a very firm idea of how he wanted a given character to sound. But when it came time to record the
soundtrack, there was really no reason not to engage a professional. Some terrific voice actors were available, they didn't cost much, and Tex
would not have received credit or extra money for playing a part himself.
It was also probably more important to have him listening to and directing the performance than to have him giving it. Certainly,
in some cases, what the actors were doing was imitating — to at least some extent — a voice that Tex performed for them. And
perhaps in one cartoon or another, an extra line had to be recorded later and Tex supplied it for a character that was otherwise performed by someone
So it's easy to see why he might have remembered doing the voice of a given character in some cartoon. But he didn't do it as
often as he recalled.
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