'He wasn't Bugs without the gags we gave him.'

As 'toons' go - in Hollywood... Droopy is EVERY BIT right up there with the star power of a certain 'MOUSE' we all know and love... Though - with Droopy, in 'ALL' scenarios he may be in - we relate, sympathize, & ALWAYS 'wish', we could do to our adversaries - what he does to his (with as little effort.) fosho'nuff!   The calm & cool sound-as-a-pound pooch, Droopy, hit TV screens -as an MGM cartoon in a feature called Dumb-Hounded, released by MGM on March 20, 1943.   Droopy's first scene is one where he is seen small & once bigger into view - looks at the audience, and declares, "Hello all you happy people ... you know what? I'm the hero."   From there??  He held our hearts!!  Droopy (alias Tex Avery) - began simple enough... in Texas {cue hooocck - spit}...

Droopy, da Wolf, Daffy, Porky, & persona of Bugs Bunny - was born Frederick Bean "Tex" Avery, on February 26, 1908 - in Taylor, Texas.  He's a hero there now, understandably!  His cake??  Avery was drawn to animation (pun intended) from a very early age... With some of his earliest 'doodles', being 'remarkable' for a kid of his early age.  Little did folk know - what this talented artist kid - would become!  He was a direct descendant of Judge Roy Bean and Daniel Boone.  Very cool!

I actually used the voice of 'da Wolf' in a recent trip to Atlanta trailer.  The lil pooch on the hog - was interesting... reminded me of ...'da WOLF.' Take a gander- 'A New Kind of Emissions in ATL'....​

He went to high school here.​​  There was a popular school catch phrase going around... That later, would be lent to another character of Avery's... ​"What's up, doc??"  Hmmm?  Tough one I know.  Click here if you give up - otherwise - keep-a-readin'!    In high school - Avery's art was WELL-KNOWN!  He was often asked to draw different things abstract, which he did to stunning results!  Upon graduation, he spent a bit of time (a little over a year and a half), drawing animation to pack into a resume he could sell... though he found BIG resistance in a local Taylor, Texas.  After almost 2 years of this - Avery packed up and moved further West... to Southern Cali.

Not long after moving to Southern Cali... Avery landed a job at the GREAT Walter Lantz Studios​​, as an animator.  It was a great experience for the young, hungry, Avery to test his true full potential.  It proved monumental.  At Lantz Studios - he learned the entire animation process and soon became a storyboard artist.  By the early 1930s - Avery was working FULL-production on the 'Oswald the Lucky Rabbit' cartoons.  During this time period - during some non-production messing around - a thumbtack flew into Avery's left eye resulting in the loss of use in that eye.  This slowed Avery down, NONE! 

In 1935, Avery found a new and bigger outlet of water... At Warner Brothers Studios - landing a job under the Leon Schlesinger studio, (here's a shot the way it looks currently in 2015 - SAD... to see they didn't keep such a historic part of the lot!!)  Twas a Warner animation studio.  Schlesinger, was reeled & fascinated with Avery's work... So it didn't take a lot of convincing from Avery to allow him total freedom of creativity with his work.  Schlesinger commissioned Avery to head his own production unit - so named in his honor -deemed the Avery unit.  Under Avery were legendary animators Chuck Jones & Bob Clampett. 'The Avery Unit', was a five-room bungalow at the Warner Bros. Sunset Blvd. backlot.  With this new freedom in Avery's grasp... He created Daffy Duck, & Porky Pig,  & the 'spunk & personality' of ​Bugs***' ***According to Chase Craig recollections of "Michael Mzzaltese," via the Chase Craig Collection, - the evolution of Bugs Bunny is explained by Chase Craig, who was a member of Tex Avery's cartoon unit and later wrote and drew the first Bugs Bunny comic.  He explains - "Bugs was not the creation of any one man but rather represented the creative talents of perhaps five or six directors and many cartoon-writers. In those days the stories were often the work of a group who suggested various gags, bounced them around and finalized them in a joint story conference."  As far as the personality & wit that makes Bugs - that award goes directly to one man - THE man, Tex Avery!" 

​According to.. Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare - by Henry Holt -
"​Porky's Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny-like rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon.  It is the first film where both Elmer Fudd and Bugs (both redesigned by Bob Givens) are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor, respectively; the first in which Mel Blanc uses what would become Bugs' standard voice; and the first in which Bugs uses his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?"​   VERY, VERY cool info!! 

The bungalow, in which Schlesinger had commissioned the Avery Unit to be on the Warner lot - was infested with termites.  This led to the famed ​​phrase, "Termite Terrace", used in MAANNNYY of the Merrie Melodies toons.  Sometimes - Avery would incorporate himself into the eps.  According to Wiki - "Termite Terrace" later became the nickname for the entire Schlesinger/Warners studio, primarily because Avery and his unit were the ones who defined what became known as "the Warner Bros. cartoon". Their first short, Gold Diggers of '49, is recognized as the first cartoon to make Porky Pig a star.  Continuing... According to Martha Sigall (Warner Bros. Art Dept,... "Avery was one of the few directors to visit the ink and paint department. She thinks he liked to see how his cartoons were turning out. He would answer questions and was always in good humor. When some of the artists humorously criticized the wild action in his animated shorts, Avery would take time to explain his rationale.  Avery recalled that while working at Warner Bros., they had so much liberty.  Nothing was held back as they had hardly any censorship of cartoons!"  I've seen this echoed maannnnyy times over and over.  Harry Warner (co-founder and president of Warner Bros) - believed in the TOTAL freedom in creativity saying once... "It is not the challenge of dollars ... it is the challenge of ideals and ideas! If the producers of pictures, see only the dollar - then I believe those production efforts will fail."  Harry understood that in entertainment - more important than the money aspect was the ideas, imagination.  If the 2 of those are in check and nurtured - the money will come (and in ABOUNDING measure!!) 

Avery understood this concept as well.  While Avery from all appearances... Was over  - the truth of the matter was all ideas or new production additions or changes - had to be approved by ​​Leon Schlesinger himself.  This would pose an ultimate problem in 1941, thru a series of events... The first came thru a fued with a Warner producer over the ending to The Heckling Hare.  According to historian and animator Greg Ford ...'the problem Leon Schlesinger had with the ending was that, the scene was to feature Bugs and the dog to fall off the cliff 3 times & just before falling off the third time, Bugs and the dog were to turn to the screen, with Bugs saying "Hold on to your hats, folks, here we go again!"  It is thought that this was the punchline to a well-known risqué joke of the day.  The Hollywood Reporter reported on the quarrel on April 2, 1941.  Avery was slapped with a four-week, unpaid suspension.  As if this wasn't a big enough kick in the nuts to Avery... Upon his return - he had a new idea.  That the non-star of the picture animals would have lip-synced talking roles.  Leon Schlesinger would not even hear the details from Avery.  He was ADAMETLY against it!  With this - Avery thought it time to persue other avenues.  He took his idea to a producer friend who worked for Paramount.  Producer friend LOVED the idea.. as Avery's contract was up at Warner - he left Warner to produce the shorts for Paramount.  Had he took these ideas to Harry Warner himself - I am fairly sure he would have gotten the green-light... But he didn't.  I am convinced from all aspects that Avery was tired of running his department on the heels of Leon Schlesinger.  So he left. - working for Paramount (non-contracted) while he considered other ops.  And one such op presented itself in a HEAVENLY form... MGM was looking to enter the cartoon frey.. Avery answered with bells...

​​At the end of August, 1941, Avery signed a five-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where he was to form his own animation unit and direct shorts in the Technicolor studio brain-child.  Avery would work over the new cartoon division side by side with legend Fred Quimby.  Avery announced to the press that he felt that 'Leon Schlesinger had stifled him'.  When asked if he missed the Looney Tunes characters, he responded "Sometimes! But I don't miss anything else. MGM is a heck of better place to work, in every way, and the people here are just as great."  This - I am surely sure produced a-nice 'smile' from L.B.Mayer's face!  Avery began the task of giving MGM the toon department they SO longed for through some charactors he began but never finished at Warner.  All-the-while he was working on one toon in secret.  The secret was made public early on - but met with tight lip with Avery... That is - until 1943...

Avery's most famous MGM character, & long held secret, DROOPY, debuted in Dumb-Hounded.  Droopy (originally "Happy Hound")twas a sound-cool-&-collected-hound, who was spunky, slow natured, yet had a supernormal strength when perturbed.  He had a jowel monotone voice - and spoke almost in a whisper.  ​​Other cool-charactors emerged at Avery's hand at MGM including Screwy Squirrel and the Of Mice and Men... But Droopy was 'THE' one that audiences demanded more of. Avery knew that Droopy needed a nemesis & had the idea of a large pit-bull - aptly named 'Spike.'​​  However - the pinnacle nemesis came with the introduction of 'The Wolf.'  'The Wolf' (Here's my favorite episode of Droopy!!  (Three Little Pups!)  No matter HOW many times - I LOVE THAT WOLF!!! MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE CARTOON!!), was a fella most could relate with... down on his luck - just looking for a break of relief - in finding his next meal - yet never got it.  He could drank like no ones bidness!  When he spoke?? He was (no matter if it was in the middle of a battle) a 'southern-polite-yet-unreasonable-with-demand' wolf. His ultimate nemesis became Spike - (who more-than-once, inflicted a familiar pain-in-his-ass.)   The Wolf, however, would remain cool and polite each time,  There were just but THREE cartoons I NEVER missed as a kid 1)Droopy 2)The Wolf (and the 2 coincided, so it was perfect!) & 3) Foghorn Leghorn.  The slow-talking wolf character, was also the prototype for MGM associates Hanna-Barbera's Huckleberry Hound character, even down to the voice by Daws Butler.  While at MGM, Avery also created a vixen petite bodied red-head, named affectionately by fans as, 'Red.'  During his great tenure at MGM... He was responsible for practically every cartoon that did not feature Tom and Jerry...
​By 1953 - Avery had grown weary of routine and left MGM for expansion on short lived creativity.

While he surveyed his next step -Avery returned to an old familiar at the Walter Lantz studio.  There he produced 4 brilliant shorts for Lantz but left when, ultimately, Lantz could not afford the salary Avery had grown accustomed to.  Avery turned to commercials where he produced some memorable commercials - that went on to become legendary.  (Some of the most legendary commercials to ever hit television!)  His most notable ​​came in the form of a cartoon bug meandering about and all of a sudden is sprayed by repellant.. The bug shouts 'RAID!' before being terminated into explosion!  Raid (to this day in 2015) uses this montra in their ads.  Avery also created the Frito Bandito​​, for the Frito Lay Company.  ALSO a VERY convincing cartoon of a pitcher of Kool-Aid for the Kool-Aid Company.  He would later integrate the Warner Bros. characters he had once helped create during his Termite Terrace days, into the ads.  Although Avery always commanded a presence of admiration from his peers - the 1970s were more reserved and depressed for Avery.  It's important to note that Avery was never satisfied with his successes - he was always looking forward to the next success.  His last job was had from an old MGM held company... 'Hanna-Barbera Productions, where he wrote for Saturday morning cartoons such as the Droopy-styled... Kwicky Koala. 

He lived here...

 

In late 1979 - Avery was diagnosed with stage VI cancer.  Avery kept this a secret amongst peers & public... Sharing it with just family and friends.  On Monday, August 25, 1980 - Avery was admitted into that hospital straight from soap operas.. from complications of the cancer that had spread to vital organs.  His body was riddled with tumors... and his family was summoned.   Avery died from cancer complications on Tuesday, August 26, 1980 - surrounded by friends and family.  The world of animation - stood silent on that day!  R.I.P Mr. Avery... your legacy is still strong as ever in Hollywood... & the absence of your presence - is felt each day with an everpresent hurt, in the hearts of 'toons' and world of showbiz each & every day!  You can leave your virtual non-wilting-never-dying flowers and condolences HERE
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