Since the maladjusted mallard was mere albumen and yolk and 81 years ago today, we salute some of his records in a post that’s surely worth more than a million box.
DAFFY DUCK MEETS YOSEMITE SAM
Capitol Children’s Records CAS-3073 (10” 78 RPM) CASF-3073 (7” 45 RPM) (Mono)
LP Reissue: Capitol Special Markets SM-8084 (“Baby Snooks and Friends,” 1977)
Released in 1950. Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Writers: Warren Foster, Michael Maltese. Music: Billy May. Running Time: 7 minutes.
Voices: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam); Pinto Colvig (Uncle Ulysses).
Melodies: “A Hunter Doesn’t Worry Me,” “Daffy’s Square Dance” by Alan Livingston, Billy May.
Daffy Duck has become emblematic of the also-ran, not so much the loser in the Charlie Brown sense, but the second rater—at least in some cartoons. Other shorts, depending on the director and writer, also depict him as insane and deconstructive or mean and stupid. He’s often the fool, or at least too smart for his own good. He tries too hard. But in the Looney Tunes pantheon, he takes a resentful back seat to Bugs Bunny–and ironically, once he dominated Warner-branded cartoons in the 1960’s, the result is largely considered, well, not as good (and why did his beak suddenly look like he borrowed it from Gandy Goose?)
Daffy appeared on several classic Capitol Records in the late ‘40s/early ‘50s, including Daffy Duck Flies South, which we covered here. His 1950 solo tune, “Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody” by master Warner story artists Warren Foster and Mike Maltese, was made into a CG animated short in 2011. To celebrate his birthday, we enjoy two other Daffy flights into the grooves.
Despite the title Yosemite Sam Meets Daffy Duck, the two had already met on screen in 1947’s Along Came Daffy. That’s not always an important issue in short cartoons though, as it’s fairly common to vary the familiarity between characters as it serves the gags.
Daffy and Sam each starts the adventure by bragging about their respective courage and capabilities. Harkening back to a instant package delivery scene in Long Haired Hare, Sam gets a telegram announcing his rich Uncle Ulysses’ arrival.
What follows is a sure thing in comedy sketches that goes back to Vaudeville: the straight man must maintain a façade of good behavior while the comic sidekick uses the fear of exposure to his advantage. In this case, Sam has to pretend to love animals, so Daffy moves into Sam’s house and proceeds to annoy him by playing the piano. Sam can’t throttle Daffy because it would be unkind.
The situation builds to a house filled with pigs, chickens, cows and horses doing square dances. Sam can’t blow his top—until he finds out his uncle gave away his fortune to the animals. Can you guess the little twist at the end?
This record is notable, not just for Daffy’s pairing with Sam, but for Mel Blanc working with Pinto Colvig. Even though they each made dozens of Capitol discs during the baby boomer hit period of children’s records, Colvig was playing Capitol’s signature character, Bozo the Clown, who originated on the label and added his “seal of approval” to every product.
Blanc, along with June Foray, Daws Butler, Stan Freberg, Sara Berner and others, did lots of great work for Capitol, but Blanc and Colvig rarely crossed paths, at least on the records themselves. A historic meeting of two voice acting greats, to be sure.
DAFFY DUCK’S FEATHERED FRIEND
Capitol Children’s Records CAS-3147 (10” 78 RPM) CASF-3147 (7” 45 RPM) (Mono)
Released in 1952. Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Music: Billy May. Running Time: 6 minutes.
Voices: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Rover).
Melodies: “Oh Daffy Duck, Oh Elmer Fudd” by Alan Livingston, Billy May.
Like Daffy Duck Meets Yosemite Sam, this record uses no narrator. The exposition is folded into spoken lines—even allowing the characters to identify themselves by name in case the listeners have either misplaced the picture sleeve or are unfortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the cartoons.
The cover illustration might suggest that the record offers a twist on the 1951 Tweety cartoon Putty (sic) Tat Trouble, in which Tweety bobbed along with a toy water-drinking bird. Actually, the heart of this story is another familiar gag: the protagonist takes the place of a stuffed or otherwise imitation version of himself/herself. Humphrey the Bear tried this, for example, when he disguised himself as a rug to fool Donald Duck in a 1953 short called–what else–Rugged Bear.
It begins with Daffy flying making a forced landing and entering a house with a stuffed duck. Thinking the duck is alive, tries to befriend the thing and ends up tearing it to shreds, just as Elmer Fudd arrives with his dog. Rover (Blanc doing a voice that would someday become very much like Dino on The Flintstones).
Hoping to stay all winter, Daffy takes the stuffed duck’s place. Rover knows immediately, but Elmer doesn’t believe him—and smacks the poor puppy! Elmer sees Daffy trying to escape and thinks he “came to wife.” Daffy pleads to stay, using Elmer’s assumption to his advantage: they can be TV stars with all winter to rehearse.
Elmer is an especially cruel dolt in this story, and in a more realistic way than usual. Not only is he mean to his doggie (who is smarter than him), the duck that he owns is probably not a plush figure, but a creature shot during a hunt and stuffed by a taxidermist. With this in mind, when Elmer later shoots at Daffy, those of us familiar with Capitol children’s records–which use less harmful-sounding “pop gun” effects to suggest that he’s not shooting with deadly “boo-wits,” we’re not buyin’ it this time. That’s a dead duck right on the cover, folks. Yosemite Sam’s Uncle Ulysses would be appalled!