The Woody, the famous ole’ woodpecker, has been around for decades. He first appeared in a series of short films produced by Walter Lantz Studio and distributed by Universal Studios between the years 1940 and 1972. Although he has since become synonymous with educational television, the character is now better known for his long life on screen and his many appearances in comic books. In this article, we will explore Woody Woodpecker’s history and learn about Danny Webb, the voice actor who played the character.
Woody Woodpecker character
The voice of Woody was first created by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway, the same man who created Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. His voice changed slightly throughout the years, from garish and cartoonish to more refined and sophisticated. In his later years, the character was portrayed by a number of voice actors, including the prolific Mel Blanc, Ben Hardaway, and Grace Stafford. In the 1950s, Woody went through several design changes. His overall appearance and his comb were similar to those of the Road Runner, a Warner Bros. cartoon.
Early Woody cartoons had a violent and erratic nature; he popped his head out of even the smallest holes. Later, the character became more domesticated, but remained a cartoon annoyance due to his ill-proportioned body. During this period, Woody’s top notch was shifted forward, his bill was shortened, and he had a girlfriend, named Winnie Woodpecker.
While Woody is still popular today, he has become a cultural icon. He was named one of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters in 2002. In 2004, Animal Planet named Woody one of their 50 Greatest Movie Animals. Woody has also appeared in many later cartoons, including the Simpsons, American Dad!, South Park, The Fairly OddParents, Robot Chicken, and Three’s Company.
Aside from a long and distinguished career, he was also the creator of several short films. Among these were the Chilly Willy and the aforementioned Woody shorts. These short films were enjoyable and entertaining and introduced a new design revision. Woody’s green eyes were replaced by black dots. Paul J. Smith used this version of Woody in many of his films. And in the years that followed, he continued to use the new look as the main character.
In addition to the classic era, Woody’s cartoons were also animated by ex-Disney employees. Smith’s work is still most popular among modern audiences. Lundy, however, made the series’ shorts less wild and more cartoon-like. His films were less cartoon-like than Culhane’s, but he managed to complete them within a small budget. Lundy also made the character a bird of action.
The first Woody Woodpecker cartoon was based on the fable “The Grasshopper and the Ants,” by Aesop. Lundy was responsible for the cartoon’s style and was a frequent collaborator on other popular Disney cartoons, including the Destination Moon short “The Grasshopper and the Ants.” In addition to his work for the ABC syndicate, Lundy also contributed to several films, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Originally, Lundy’s Woody shorts remained silent, with Woody never speaking a word. The studio later commissioned voice-over artists, including the famous Tex Avery, to complete the series. The resulting shorts are popular with fans, despite the absence of a director’s credit. Woody’s intro was retained, but the voice actor who portrayed the character was not the same as Lundy’s.
The first cartoon in Lundy’s style focuses on the character’s early adventures. It follows Woody attempting to reclaim a spare tire that was stolen by a gorilla. Woody is also trying to impress his fellow birds by attempting to recruit Chilly for an army BBQ, while Meany is trying to relax. Woody, in addition to his friends, tries to prevent a hungry Chilly from ruining the party.
After Quest for the Jade Jaguar, Blame It On Rio De Janeiro takes place. The following year, the characters of the show return in Birds of a Feather and Fall Guy. In Winnie’s Wish, Woody becomes the 1940 version. In Time Warped, Woody travels to the 1940s. Andy Panda is back in The New Woodpecker Show.
Unlike the original portrayal of Woody, the new look evolved from its initial zany character. Woody’s style, which had initially been like a needle-nosed ragdoll, underwent several redesigns as the series progressed. After “Ace in the Hole,” his buck teeth disappeared and his beak and feet were brighter in color. The chin disappeared in “Ration Bored,” and Woody’s hands became white.
Lundy’s style also brought in a new voice that he would use for the character. Woody would occasionally read signs and speak in a normal voice, which was a change from his first voice. Lundy also emphasized the importance of the voice in a cartoon, as well as the tone of the voice. While Lundy’s style is distinctive and recognizable, Lundy’s Woodpecker cartoons still have their own unique qualities, making them a beloved classic among families everywhere.
Danny Webb’s voice in Woody Woodpecker cartoon
One of the most beloved characters in all of animated history, the woodpecker is no stranger to trouble. In one early episode, Woody gets caught speeding and is gagged. His zany, sarcastic antics are the essence of this popular cartoon. Although Woody’s voice was often criticized for being too monotone, Danny Webb’s voice is both memorable and endearing.
Before being enlisted in the armed forces, Danny Webb had previously starred as the Wicked Queen in Clampett’s Coal Black at Warner Bros. In 1941, he was signed to a contract by Warner Bros., which made him a top voice choice. He then joined the voice team that included Mel Blanc and Ben Hardaway. Eventually, he was replaced by Danny Webb, who took over the role.
Before being signed to play Woody, Webb had already been doing several other Universal cartoons. His “Guess Who?” opening line was a popular staple of the show for years. However, the voice for the Woody laugh was uncredited, so it was a mystery until 1949. The voice of Woody was originally recorded by an unknown actor but Webb was believed to be Danny Webb, who had been performing different voices for the company since 1938.
After he joined the Army, Webb joined the Signal Corps and eventually rose to the rank of staff sergeant. After his military service, he was recruited to entertain troops in North Africa. He earned the sobrique “Comedy Commando,” which stuck for a while. Later, he returned to voice the character ‘Saddack’ and was briefly employed by Warner Bros. He also had a minor career in local television, where he voiced Egghead. The character later became Elmer Fud.
The Woody Woodpecker cartoons are fun to watch, with a charming cast of characters. Even the latest Pantry Panic is not as timeless as the other Woody episodes, but its corny jokes and standard story make it worth a watch. However, Woody remains lovable and incredibly funny. Woody’s unique laugh is a memorable part of his character.
Lundy’s style in other Lantz cartoons
The early Wally Walrus cartoons were a big hit with audiences. The visual style of this cartoon is simple, yet effective. The characters are portrayed in a way that is reminiscent of the Golden Age of animation, which was the era that saw Walt Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, and Fleischer put their signature stamp on the medium. While some of these Lantz cartoons have been released recently, they were long overdue.
Woody was created by Jim Culhane, but Jim Lundy gave him a more human personality, giving him more motivation for his actions. In Wacky-Bye Baby, Woody poses as an orphan. In other cartoons, such as the popular Musical Moments from Chopin, Lundy inserted music that guided the characters and the audience. Woody also plays Chico in these films, and they became instant hits.
Lundy’s use of jazz inspired the style in the first cartoon, and he used this same technique in many others. The jazzy Swing Symphonies were one example. Another short that featured the woodpecker was Meatless Tuesday, which starred Mel Blanc. The movie’s success led Kreiser to return to Lantz and request more cartoons featuring the madwood.
Woody was a huge hit, and the studio’s staff was thin. But the company was also struggling financially, and Lantz had to produce seven new Woody cartoons to meet its commitment to Universal-International. But despite this, he did not receive much money from United Artists’ feature revenues, which pushed it into a financial crisis. The studio was far behind its standing loan from Bank of America. The bank’s president, Joe Rosenberg, urged Lantz to close the studio. The studio eventually closed, but not before Lantz had a chance to make another Woody cartoon.
In the 1950s, Lundy’s animation style shifted. While the shorts were still enjoyable, they lacked the grace and elegance of Lundy’s shorts. Lantz’s shorts were censored heavily for violent, racial, and risque content. In response, live action sequences were replaced with “more educational” material. Woody also featured Newsreel segments in the 1960s, but they were less inspired than Lundy’s work.