Wednesday, July 15, 2009

R.I.P. Dal McKennon.

Actor Dal McKennon left us on July 14, 2009 – just days before his 90th birthday.
McKennon specialized in “grizzled western” roles (appearing on the DANIEL BOONE TV series), but was also known for his voice acting. Gumby, Filmation’s Archie Andrews, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse were among the animated characters who spoke courtesy of McKennon.

But his most extensive voicing credits were with Walter Lantz, where he and Daws Butler essentially split the roles of nearly every incidental male character appearing in Woody Woodpecker cartoons from the early-mid 1950s onward.
His best-known role at Lantz was that of Woody Woodpecker’s main villain and foil – Buzz Buzzard.

As there were perhaps two-or-three different voices for Buzz Buzzard early on, before McKennon settled permanently into the role, I’ve posted two “McKennon Classics” below – in the hope that they’ll create the proper amount of (pardon) “buzz”.

Buccaneer Woodpecker (1953) Directed by Don Patterson. A cartoon which oddly played in the background of “The Hard Part” (May 07, 2007), Episode 21 of the first season of the NBC/Universal prime time series HEROES.

Hot Noon (1953) a lively western spoof directed by Paul J. Smith.

Whether a pirate, gunslinger, or his more typical role as a con man / all-purpose rival, Dal McKennon’s Buzz Buzzard always delivered the goods – and, thanks to Woody Woodpecker, often “got the business” in return.

Dal McKennon’s work on Walter Lantz cartoons is heard throughout the entirety of the 2008 DVD set Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection Volume Two, including both cartoons posted here, and other zany favorites such as “Chief Charlie Horse” (1956) and “Calling All Cuckoos” (1956) – with McKennon playing a mixed-up sheriff and wacky, obsessive clockmaker, respectively.

The set is a worthy purchase for many reasons – but now there is one more… it stands as a fitting tribute to the fine work of Dal McKennon!

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