Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Woody Woodpecker Remains Best

Knock Knock ... don't say "who's there?" We are not talking about a joke. Rather, I would like to talk about Knock Knock, the name of the first cartoon appearance of Woody Woodpecker.

Knock Knock was an Andy Panda cartoon and starred Andy, Andy's panda dad and Woody. Andy was still a young bear in this cartoon but soon Walter Lantz had him grow up. However, that's a discussion for another day.

In Knock Knock, Woody was far from the tame, innocent bird he would become in the 1950s and '60s. In Knock Knock and early Woody cartoons, he was a little crazy and was often the one who caused problems instead of reacting to problems. In his first appearance, he was pecking holes in the home of Andy and his family. Most of the Andy Panda cartoon is centered around Andy's dad trying to catch the woodpecker.

In the end, Andy is the one who captures Woody by putting salt on his tail. It sounds strange but apparently there is an old myth that putting salt on a bird's tail can keep it from flying. I don't know if this is table salt or rock salt. Either way, it is a little odd. I have to admit, I like early Woody. I like the crazy Woody with big legs and a sinister laugh that is far from the silly laugh he develops later. The paragraph below is taken straight from Wikipedia. It contains some key information about Woody.

Woody was created in 1940 by storyboard artist Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, who had previously laid the groundwork for two other screwball characters, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, at the Schlesinger/Warner Bros. studio in the late 1930s. Woody's character and design would evolve over the years, from an insane bird with an unusually garish design to a more refined looking and acting character in the vein of the later Chuck Jones version of Bugs Bunny. Woody was originally voiced by prolific voice actor Mel Blanc, who was succeeded by Ben Hardaway and later by Grace Stafford, wife of Walter Lantz.

I still disagree with the author of this Wikipedia entry. I would not call Woody Woodpecker's early design "unusually garish." Give me crazy, early Woody any day!

For information on Woody, go here:

And check back for more blogging fun soon!

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