Vintage Droopy Dog Cookie Jar, cm. 26 x 14.
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Droopy is an animated cartoon character from the Golden Age of American Animation: an anthropomorphic dog with a droopy face, hence the name Droopy. He was created in 1943 by Tex Avery for theatrical cartoon shorts produced by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio. Essentially the polar opposite of Avery’s other famous MGM character, the loud and wacky Screwy Squirrel, Droopy moves slowly and lethargically, speaks in a jowly monotone voice, and—though hardly an imposing character—is shrewd enough to outwit his enemies. When finally roused to anger, often by a bad guy laughing heartily at him, Droopy is capable of beating adversaries many times his size with a comical thrashing (“You know what? That makes me mad!”).
The character first appeared, nameless, in Avery’s 1943 cartoon Dumb-Hounded. Though he would not be called “Droopy” onscreen until his fifth cartoon, Señor Droopy (1949), the character was officially first labeled Happy Hound, a name used in the character’s appearances in Our Gang Comics (the character was already christened the name “Droopy” in model sheets for his first cartoon). The Droopy series ended in 1958 as a result of MGM closing its cartoon department, but the character has been revived several times for new productions, often movies and television shows also featuring MGM’s other famous cartoon stars, Tom and Jerry.
Droopy first appeared in the MGM cartoon Dumb-Hounded, released by MGM on March 20, 1943. Droopy’s first scene is when he saunters into view, looks at the audience, and declares, “Hello, all you happy people … you know what? I’m the hero.” In the cartoon, Droopy is tracking an escaped convict and is always waiting for the crook wherever he turns up. Avery had used a similar gag in his 1941 Merrie Melodies short Tortoise Beats Hare, which in turn was an expansion/exaggeration of the premise of his The Blow Out (1936). In fact, this cartoon shows that early ideas about Droopy’s personality were already germinating, as that film’s Cecil Turtle is very similar in character to Droopy.
Droopy’s meek, deadpan voice and personality were modeled after the character Wallace Wimple on the radio comedyFibber McGee and Molly; actor Bill Thompson, who played Wimple, was the original voice of Droopy. During his time in the US Navy during World War II, the role was played by other voice actors, including Don Messick, who reprised the role in the 1990s. Avery’s preferred gag man Heck Allen said that Avery himself provided the voice on several occasions, and “You couldn’t tell the difference.” Droopy himself was a versatile actor: he could play a Mountie, a cowboy, a deputy, an heir, or a Dixieland-loving everyday Joe with equal ease. The same voice was used for Big Heel-Watha in the Screwy Squirrel cartoon of the same name and for a Pilgrim who chases a turkey modeled after Jimmy Durante in Avery’s 1945 short Jerky Turkey.