Kausler's Closet
September 16, 2019 posted by Jerry Beck

Daws Butler on Camera

Okay – here’s a strange find. Two film prints, found buried in Mark Kausler’s closet, both are odd-ball live action films featuring voice actor extraordinaire Daws Butler – but neither print features his famous voice!

This is a case of “you-tell-us” what these are. We don’t have the back story, we can only speculate what they could have been. Did Daws have an ambition to be an on-camera personality, a desire which led him to take featured parts in two live action pilot productions?

Daws is too important a figure in animation history for us to ignore – the readership for Cartoon Research might have a clue, and would certainly be interested in seeing these. And so here are these two strange shorts. Any insight is encouraged…


Odd short featuring Daws as a baby-sitter. Narrated by Paul Frees(!) doing a wise-guy Pete Smith-crossed-with-Herb Vigran vocal perormance. Disney story man Larry Clemons wrote the film, possibly for TV. Butler, Frees and Clemons also collaborated on a similar short, A Case For Hypnosis, in 1952. Not sure what producer Jerry Courneya’s story is.


No idea what this is. A TV pilot? Who are these people? What’s going on? This is a silent work print from around 1965-66…


And finally, I couldn’t let this post pass without one film featuring Daws on camera, with his voice. So here he is on the Groucho Marx quiz show, You Bet Your Life (On May 26th, 1960):


  • Heavens to Murgatroyd! By now I know your closet is full of surprises, but I never expected this!

    All I can guess is that somebody offered Daws the opportunity to do something out of the ordinary, and he took it. “Nice Try, Virgil” is an unfunny mess (that’s Daws’s eldest son David in the Indian costume), but “Lapwing” left me stunned. I never would have imagined that Daws Butler could display the same weird, dark charisma as Max Schreck in Nosferatu, Peter Lorre in M, and John Nance in Eraserhead. Just think what he could have done in a guest spot on “The Outer Limits”!

  • These are awesome! The second video is very strange. It’s strange to see Daws as an alcoholic.

  • Courneya was a producer of 15-minute filmed shows for syndication. He produced an adventure series with Noah Beery, Jr. (at least 13 were made) and another with chimps doing takeoffs (the first was Sherlock Holmes). A series of travel shorts with Conrad Nagel was planned. He also snapped up the rights, in 1954, to the Synchro-Vox process with the idea it would be used in animated spots.
    I haven’t found anything mentioning comedy shorts with Daws or anyone else.
    His company seems to have petered out in the early ’60s. He bought into a development in Palm Springs involving horses.

  • John Zodrow who worked on Lapwing later wrote for the TV series Insight. Lapwing could be a religious prodction. One of the two of the crew members belonged to the Order of Saint Francis, the other belonged to the Society of Jesus.

  • Sorry, but the Star of this entire column is the one… the only… GROUCHO ! ! !

  • “An Crioc” (the “The End” card) appears to be Irish/Gaelic.

  • Nice Try, Virgil looks like something Joe Besser might have done for Columbia at about the same time, prior to his stint with the Three Stooges. In fact, Besser would have been much funnier in this role, whether or not he had any dialog. His famous mannerisms alone would have made it funny.

    • I’m guessing that neither of these shorts were ever released. They don’t show up in IMDb.

    • Let’s just say if these films weren’t ridiculously, insanely rare, I wouldn’t have posted them.

  • Incidentally: U.S. Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest, the answer to the other final question on “You Bet Your Life” that the other team got wrong, was the mother of Pat Priest, the actress who played Marilyn on “The Munsters”.

  • Here’s some info on a Bernard Abbene who was probably the same person who directed “Lapwing.” He became a professor at Loyola University and Loyola Marymount University in the Communication Arts Department


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