Friday, June 8, 2012
4480. Daffy Duck
Daffy first appeared on April 17, 1937, in Porky's Duck Hunt, directed by Tex Avery and animated by Bob Clampett. The cartoon is a standard hunter/prey pairing for which Leon Schlesinger's studio was famous, but Daffy (barely more than an unnamed bit player in this short) was something new to moviegoers: an assertive, completely unrestrained, combative protagonist. Clampett later recalled: "At that time, audiences weren't accustomed to seeing a cartoon character do these things. And so, when it hit the theaters it was an explosion. People would leave the theaters talking about this daffy duck." This early Daffy is less anthropomorphic and resembles a "normal" duck. In fact, the only aspects of the character that have remained consistent through the years are his voice characterization by Mel Blanc and his black feathers with a white neck ring. Blanc's characterization of Daffy holds the world record for the longest characterization of one animated character by his or her original actor: 52 years. The origin of Daffy's voice is a matter of some debate. One often-repeated "official" story is that it was modeled after producer Schlesinger's tendency to lisp. However, in Mel Blanc's autobiography, That's Not All Folks!, he contradicts that conventional belief, writing, "It seemed to me that such an extended mandible would hinder his speech, particularly on words containing an s sound. Thus 'despicable' became 'desthpicable.'" Daffy's slobbery, exaggerated lisp was developed over time, and it is barely noticeable in the early cartoons. In "Daffy Duck & Egghead", Daffy does not lisp at all except in the separately drawn set-piece of Daffy singing "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" in which just a slight lisp can be heard. Daffy has no official middle name, but he has sometimes been given a "joke" middle name specific to the plot of a cartoon. In "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" (1949), he calls himself "Daffy Dumas Duck" as the writer of a swashbuckling script, a nod to Alexandre Dumas. Also, in the Baby Looney Tunes episode "The Tattletale", Granny addresses Daffy as "Daffy Horacio Tiberius Duck". In The Looney Tunes Show (2011), the joke middle names "Armando" and "Sheldon" are used.