Voice Over Icons!

My Voice Over Mount Rushmore: Beginning With Daws Butler!
I was 5 years old when my dad got our first TV. It was a “Madman Muntz” with a black and white screen. And just when I needed them, cartoons and puppet shows came into my life via that little screen. It didn’t matter whether it was Felix the Cat, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, or Mickey Mouse, I was transported to another world. Even the puppet shows were mesmerizing. I didn’t know until later that “Time for Beany” aka Beany and Cecil were born the same year I was (1949), all I knew was they were great fun to watch and listen to. Even then I knew that Beany and Cecil were very different from cartoons, but what made the show special was the acting by Daws Butler and Stan Freeberg. As a 5 year old watching what I knew was a live show, the two of them always kept their amazing wits about them when things went wrong. They just rolled with everything and made the mistakes hilarious. Stan always credited Daws with helping him develop into a true actor during their time together on the show. No less an actor than Lionel Barrymore wouldn’t miss a show. High praise indeed.
After the 5 year run of “Time For Beany” Daws followed Stan’s lead and the two of them created the very first million selling comedy record album “St. George and the Dragonet”spoofing Jack Webb’s TV series ‘Dragnet’ with their assortment of voice characterizations. That job gave them the opportunity to hire some of the best voice over talent of the day like June Foray and Peter Leeds among others. Following 5 comedy albums with Stan Freeberg, Daws went to work in advertising writing, performing and producing commercials in the mid-fifties which allowed him to cast his close friends once again in many brilliant animated TV commercials. In the mid 1950’s the creator of Woody Woodpecker, Walter Lantz, hired Daws to become the voice of Chilly Willy. The other two people who were just building their reputation in the animation business and who had previously hired Daws for animation voice work were the creators of the “Tom and Jerry” cartoon features for MGM, William Hanna and Joe Barbera. About the time MGM decided to let Hanna and Barbera go, they started their own company and Daws became the centerpiece of their voice over team. Bill Hanna praised Daws Butler as an enormous talent and commented often that there may never have been a Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Company if they hadn’t hired Daws. That’s where Daws brought Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss and Elroy Jetson among others, to life.
Daws Butler’s other animation work during the 1960’s was with Jay Ward’s team on “Rocky The Flying Squirrel” in the ‘Fractured Fairy Tails’ and ‘Aesop and Son’ segments, once again working with his good friends Don Messick, Penny Singleton, June Foray, Paul Frees and Charlie Ruggles.
In 1969 Daws was back in advertising as the original voice of Captain Crunch cereal. That characterization of Captain Crunch has endured even though several other talented actors have performed as his voice since then.
Daws became one of the great animation voice coaches in history in the 1970’s and continued to nurture many young up and coming voice talent until his death in 1988.
Before I became completely in awe of Mel Blanc, Daws Butler was the first guy that really defined what it meant to be a voice actor for me.
Thanks for the memories Daws.