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Bosko black & white character
Bosko
Background information
Feature films Space Jam (picture only)
Short films See below
Television programs Tiny Toon Adventures
Video games
Park attractions
Portrayed by
Portrayed by
Animators Hugh Harman
Rudolph Ising
Voice Carman Maxwell (1929-1930,1934-1938)
Johnny Murray (1930-1933)
Don Messick (1990s)
Performance model
Designer
Inspiration
Honors and awards
Character information
Full name
Other names
Personality
Appearance
Occupation
Alignment
Affiliations
Nationality
Birthday
Goal
Home
Relatives
Pets
Allies
Minions
Enemies
Likes
Dislikes
Powers and abilities
Possessions
Weapons
Fate
Quote

Bosko is an animated cartoon character created by animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising. Bosko was the first recurring character in Leon Schlesinger's cartoon series, and was the star of 39 Looney Tunes shorts released by Warner Bros. He was voiced by Carman Maxwell, Johnny Murray, and Ruby Dandridge during the 1920s and 1930s, and once by Don Messick during the 1990s.

BiographyEdit

Creation and first filmEdit

In 1927, Harman and Ising were still working for the Walt Disney Studios on a series of live-action/animated short subjects known as the Alice Comedies. Hugh Harman created Bosko in 1927 to capitalize on the new "talkie" craze that was sweeping the motion picture industry. Harman began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko in 1927, before he even left Walt Disney. Hugh Harman made drawings of the new character and registered it with the copyright office on 3 January 1928. The character was registered as a "Negro boy" under the name of Bosko.

After leaving Walt Disney in the spring of 1928, Harman and Ising went to work for Charles Mintz on Universal's second-season Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. April 1929 found them moving on again, leaving Universal to market their new cartoon character. In May 1929, they produced a short pilot cartoon, similar to Max Fleischer's Out of the Inkwell cartoons, Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid that showcased their ability to animate soundtrack-synchronized speech and dancing. The short, plotless cartoon opens with live action footage of Ising at a drafting table. After he draws Bosko on the page, the character springs to life, talks, sings, and dances. Ising returns Bosko to the inkwell, and the short ends. This short is a landmark in animation history as being the first cartoon to predominantly feature synchronized speech, though Fleischer Studios' Song Car-Tune "My Old Kentucky Home" was the first cartoon to contain animated dialogue a few years earlier. This cartoon set Harman and Ising "apart from early Disney sound cartoons because it emphasized not music but dialogue." The short was marketed to various people by Harman and Ising until Leon Schlesinger offered them a contract to produce a series of cartoons for the Warner Bros. It would not be seen by a wide audience until 71 years later, in 2000, as part of Cartoon Network's special Toonheads: The Lost Cartoons, a compilation special of rare material from the WB/Turner archives.

In his book, Of Mice and Magic, Leonard Maltin states that this early version of Bosko

"was in fact a cartoonized version of a young black boy... he spoke in a Southern Negro dialect... in subsequent films this characterization was eschewed, or perhaps forgotten. This could be called sloppiness on the part of Harman and Ising, but it also indicates the uncertain nature of the character itself."

Bosko and Looney TunesEdit

Schlesinger saw the Harman-Ising test film and signed the animators to produce cartoons at their studio for him to sell to Warner Bros. Bosko became the star vehicle for the studio's new Looney Tunes cartoon series. Bosko wore long pants and a derby hat, and he had a girlfriend named Honey and a dog named Bruno. He was also sometimes accompanied by an orphan cat named Wilbur and an often antagonistic goat, particularly in early cartoons.

The role of Bosko was to serve as a cartoony version of Al Jolson in the The Jazz Singer (1927). According to Ising, he was initially supposed to be an "inkspot sort of thing". He was not conceived as either a human or an animal, though behaving like a little boy. According to Leonard Maltin, Bosko was a cartoonized version of a young black boy who spoke a Southern dialect of African American Vernacular English. He cites as an example a phrase from Bosko's Holiday, said with an intermittent drawl: "I sho'done likes picnics."

Whether admiring a dress worn by Honey or eating a sandwich (with exaggerated chewing) Bosko had a stock exclamatory reaction indicating his pleasure "Mmmm! Dat sho' is fine!" which became something of a catch phrase.

Although Harman and Ising based Bosko's looks on Felix the Cat, Bosko got his personality from the blackface characters of the minstrel and vaudeville shows popular in the 1930s. In keeping with the stereotypes of the minstrel shows, Bosko is a natural at singing, dancing, and playing any instrument he encounters. In fact, Bosko has the ability to play virtually anything as an instrument, be it a wooden bridge-turned-xylophone or a Dachshund-turned-accordion. In early cartoons, Bosko (voiced by Carman Maxwell) even speaks in an exaggerated version of black speech (However, this was only in the first cartoon. All later cartoons would give him a falsetto voice). Despite the parallels between Bosko and the blackface performers, Ising in later years would deny that the character was ever supposed to be a black caricature, and rather claim he was supposed to be "an inkspot kind of thing."

According to Terry Lindvall and Ben Fraser, Bosko and Honey "were the most balanced portrayals of blacks in cartoons to that point". They had the same type of formulaic coy adventures as Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They point to Bosko in Person (1933) where Honey gives a Billie Holiday-style performance as an example of nonracist racial tribute to a real person. According to Tom Bertino, Harman and Ising never called attention to Bosko's racial status, and stayed clear of negative stereotypes involving dice and watermelon. Bosko instead received positive portrayals as a spunky and resourceful boy. An exception to this was a demeaning representation in Congo Jazz (1930). Bosko in a jungle setting is depicted standing between a chimpanzee and a gorilla. All three are depicted with virtually identical faces. The only things identifying him as human is his relative size and his clothes.

From his first Looney Tunes outing, Sinkin' in the Bathtub, Bosko would star in 39 musical films (one of which was not released). His cartoons are notable for their generally weak plots and their abundance of music, singing, and dancing (though there were exceptions, such as Bosko the Doughboy, in 1931). These were the early days of sound cartoons, and audiences were enthralled simply to see characters talking and moving in step with the music. In terms of animation, the shorts are on-par with Disney's shorts of the same period. Harman and Ising were allowed production costs of up to $6000 per cartoon. During the same period, Disney was spending around $10,000 per cartoon. The smaller budgets forced Harman and Ising to recycle footage much more often than Disney did. In terms of music and sound recording, however, Harman and Ising had one up on Disney as the Warner Bros. provided access to a large musical library with all the popular tunes of the day, lavish orchestras (e.g. Abe Lyman) and sound recording equipment and staff free of charge whereas Disney had to pay for all this himself. Disney also had another handicap: he had no access to a music library and was forced to rely, for the most part, on public domain music. In addition, Harman and Ising did not have to worry over details concerning the distribution of their cartoons as the Warner Bros. handled all this.

Vaudeville was the major entertainment of the time, and the cartoons of the era are better understood when compared to it rather than to animation of later decades. Though they might seem boring and rudimentary by today's standards, Bosko's films were quite popular in their day and he rivaled Mickey Mouse in popularity in the early 1930s, although the Disney cartoons would eventually surge ahead in popularity on the basis of stronger plot and character development.

In the later Looney Tunes shorts which Bosko appeared, his accent was gone. Consequently, his race became more ambiguous.

Bosko at MGMEdit

Color Bosko

The later design of Bosko at MGM.

In 1933, Harman and Ising broke with Warner Bros. over budget disputes with Schlesinger. Having learned from Walt Disney's experiences with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, they had carefully kept all rights to the Bosko character, and they took him with them. The two found work with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where they launched the Happy Harmonies cartoon series. At first, Bosko appeared in his original design and some of the old animation from the Looney Tunes series was even reused in those Happy Harmonies that features Bosko. After only two cartoons, the character was redesigned into an identifiable black boy with an overactive imagination. This redesigned Bosko, whom many consider to be a different character altogether, in spite of having the same name, only starred in seven cartoons. The character's shorts received negative reception, possibly due to the use of black stereotypes in the cartoons. Eventually, Harman and Ising would discontinue the character.

For the bulk of his cartoons at MGM, Bosko was voiced by the animator who initially voiced him, Carman Maxwell. Ruby Dandridge took on the role for the final three shorts he appeared in, giving him a voice that sounded like modern African-American children.

Originally, the shorts which Bosko appeared usually revolved around musical adventure stories, but for the final three shorts in which he appeared, the plot revolved around the character delivering cookies for his mother, but his imagination would usually lead him to being ambushed by giant frogs who want to steal the cookies.

The career of the character ended for good when MGM fired Harman and Ising due to cost overruns in the films they produced. They were replaced by Fred Quimby.

Bosko in TelevisionEdit

Bosko cartoons were packaged with other Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, to be broadcast in various television markets in the 1950s. For instance, "Skipper Frank" (Frank Herman), showed Bosko, along with Daffy Duck, Egghead and Porky Pig, on "Cartoon Carousel" his hour-long afterschool cartoon program on KTLA-TV (Channel 5) in Los Angeles. Bosko cartoons were also later aired on Nickelodeon as part of the network's Looney Tunes program beginning in 1988 and ending in 1992, when the network pulled all black and white shorts out of rotation to make room for more recent color cartoons featuring more popular Warner characters.

Bosko appeared in a 1990 episode of the television series Tiny Toon Adventures titled "Fields of Honey". In a parody of the then-current film Field of Dreams, a mysterious voice leads Babs Bunny to build a theater that shows nothing but cartoons of Bosko's girlfriend Honey, after being told about Honey (voiced by B.J. Ward) by the Acme Looniversity's mysterious vaultkeeper (voiced by Don Messick). Babs does so, and the resulting audience laughter rejuvenates the aged and ailing Honey. The laughter also rejuvenates the vaultkeeper, who is revealed to be none other than Bosko himself as well as the source of the voice. The cartoon depicts Bosko and Honey as dog-like funny animals similar to the lead characters of the later television series, Animaniacs, presumably so as not to offend viewers with the original black-face characterizations.

The character is also seen in a portrait in the 1996 movie Space Jam, this time in his original form. He also appears in his original form in the Animaniacs cartoon, "The Girl with the Googily Goop", in which he is seen parking his car. He was also seen in a Futurama opening in Sinkin' in the Bathtub at the part where he runs off a cliff from the car with Honey in it.

The majority of the cartoons are available on VHS and DVD in the Uncensored Bosko series from Bosko Video. In 2003, Warner Home Video officially released the initial pilot film Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid, as an extra on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 1 DVD box set. Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 3 (released in 2005) also includes the first Looney Tunes short, Sinkin' in the Bathtub (which originally introduced Bosko and Honey to audiences in 1930) as an extra. Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 6 (released in 2008) includes several Bosko films on a disc officially devoted to Bosko and other early 1930s characters.

All the Bosko cartoons subject to copyright remain owned by Warner Bros., as are the original film elements of those cartoons that have fallen into the public domain. The WB cartoons are under direct ownership of the studio itself, while WB also handles distribution for the MGM cartoons, owned by corporate sibling Turner Entertainment. Time Warner has also acquired rights to the character himself, allowing his appearances in the 1990s to happen.

PersonalityEdit

Physical AppearanceEdit

FilmographyEdit

Year Title Notes
1929 Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid The first Bosko film.
1930 Sinkin' in the Bathtub The first Bosko film released.
Congo Jazz
Hold Anything
The Booze Hangs High
Box Car Blues
1931 Big Man from the North
Ain't Nature Grand!
Ups 'n Downs
Dumb Patrol
Yodeling Yokels
Bosko's Holiday
The Tree's Knees
Bosko Shipwrecked
Bosko the Doughboy
Bosko's Soda Fountain
Bosko's Fox Hunt
1932 Bosko at the Zoo
Battling Bosko
Big-Hearted Bosko
Bosko's Party
Bosko and Bruno
Bosko's Dog Race
Bosko at the Beach
Bosko's Store
Bosko the Lumberjack
Ride Him, Bosko!
Bosko the Drawback
Bosko's Dizzy Date Alternately titled Bosko and Honey
Bosko's Woodland Daze
1933 Bosko in Dutch
Bosko in Person
Bosko the Speed King
Bosko's Knight-Mare
Bosko the Sheep-Herder
Beau Bosko
Bosko's Mechanical Man
Bosko the Musketeer
Bosko's Picture Show Final appearance of Bosko in a WB cartoon.
1934 Bosko's Parlor Pranks First appearance of Bosko in an MGM cartoon.
1935 Hey-Hey Fever Final cartoon featuring original Bosko
Run, Sheep, Run First cartoon featuring Bosko in later design
1936 The Old House
1937 Circus Daze
Bosko's Easter Eggs
Little Ol' Bosko and the Pirates
Little Ol' Bosko and the Cannibals
1938 Little Ol' Bosko in Bagdad The last Bosko film.
1990 Fields of Honey Tiny Toon Adventures episode
1996 The Girl with the Googily Goop Animaniacs episode
Space Jam Feature length film; picture only

RelationshipsEdit

QuotesEdit

GalleryEdit

Wiki-wordmark
Warner Bros. Entertainment Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Bosko.

TriviaEdit

v - e - d
Looney tunes and merrie melodies logo
Media
Franchises: Show-logo-looneyTunesMerrie Melodies logo

Shorts:
Television: The Bugs Bunny ShowThe Porky Pig ShowThe Road Runner ShowThe Merrie Melodies ShowSylvester and TweetyThe Daffy Duck ShowThe Daffy/Speedy ShowLooney Tunes on NickelodeonMerrie Melodies Starring Bugs Bunny and FriendsThat's Warner Bros.!Bugs N' Daffy
Feature Films: The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner MovieThe Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny MovieBugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit TalesDaffy Duck's Fantastic IslandDaffy Duck's QuackbustersSpace JamThe Looney Tunes Hall of FameLooney Tunes: Back in Action
Specials: Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie GhouliesCarnival of the AnimalsBugs Bunny's Easter FunniesBugs Bunny in SpaceBugs Bunny's Howl-o-Ween SpecialA Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's CourtBugs Bunny's ValentineBugs Bunny's Looney Christmas TalesHow Bugs Bunny Won the WestThe Bugs Bunny Mother's Day SpecialBugs Bunny's Thanksgiving DietDaffy Duck's Easter SpecialBugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All OverThe Bugs Bunny Mystery SpecialDaffy Duck's Thanks-For-Giving SpecialBugs Bunny: All American HeroBugs Bunny's Mad World of TelevisionAn Ounce of PreventionBugs vs. Daffy: Battle of the Music Video StarsBugs Bunny's Wild World of SportsHappy Birthday Bugs! 50 Looney YearsBugs Bunny's Overtures to DisasterBugs Bunny's Creature FeaturesBugs Bunny's Lunar Tunes

Characters
Main characters: Barnyard DawgBeaky BuzzardBugs BunnyCecil TurtleCharlie DogClaude CatDaffy DuckElmer FuddFoghorn LeghornGossamerGrannyHector the BulldogHenery HawkHippety HopperHubie and BertieLola BunnyMac and ToshMarc Anthony and PussyfootMarvin the MartianMichigan J. FrogMiss PrissyPenelope PussycatPepé Le PewPete PumaPorky PigRalph WolfRoad RunnerSam SheepdogSpeedy GonzalesSylvesterSylvester Jr.TazTweety BirdWile E. CoyoteWitch HazelYosemite Sam

Minor characters: Blacque Jacque ShellacqueBoskoThe CrusherGiovanni JonesYoyo DodoTasmanian She-DevilMelissa DuckHugo the Abominable SnowmanSpike and ChesterNasty CanastaThe GremlinPrivate SnafuPetunia PigPlayboy PenguinShropshire SlasherCount BloodcountMama BuzzardColonel ShuffleEgghead Jr.Owl JolsonToro the BullRocky and MugsyMinah BirdInkiBeansLittle KittyHam And ExOliver OwlPiggyGabby GoatBuddyHoneySlowpoke RodriguezThe Three BearsFoxyK-9A. FleaSnifflesConstruction WorkerFrisky PuppyRalph MouseHoney BunnyRoxyThe Martin BrothersRalph PhillipsClyde BunnyFauntleroy FlipDr. I.Q. HiGruesome GorillaSloppy MoeHatta MariBusinessmanThe WeaselWiloughbyThe Two Curious PuppiesCool CatBabbit and CatstelloInstant MartiansBobo the ElephantColonel RimfireSmokey The GenieJose and ManuelMerlin the Magic Mouse and Second BananaConrad the CatAngus MacRoryBanty RoosterThree Little PigsTom TurkeyGoopy GeerNelly the GiraffeAla BahmaDr. LorreCottontail SmithBunny and ClaudeClaude HopperThe Hep CatThe Drunk StorkThe CatSinging CatSouthern SheriffOld Woman's CanaryOld Woman's CatBluebeardPorky's Drunken FriendsOld WomanLittle Red Riding Hood's Grandma • Little Red Riding Hood (Little Red Walking Hood/Little Red Riding Rabbit/Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears) • Goldilocks (The Bear's Tale/Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears) • The CrowKing ArthurKing Arthur's Knights

Studios
Warner Bros. CartoonsDePatie-Freleng EnterprisesFormat FilmsChuck Jones EnterprisesReel FX
People
Dave BarryWarren BatchelderMel BlancTed BonnicksenArthur Q. BryanBill ButlerBob ClampettRuss DysonMilt FranklynFriz FrelengManny GouldGeorge GrandpreKen HarrisHugh HarmanRochelle HudsonRudolf IsingUb IwerksChuck JonesCarman MaxwellNorman McCabeChuck McKimsonRobert McKimsonTom McKimsonWillian LavaLou LillyMichael MalteseTedd PierceHawley PrattTom RayVirgil RossLeon SchlesingerRob ScribnerEddie SelzerCarl StallingLarry Storch
Music/Songs
A Hot Time in the Old Town TonightWhistle and Blow Your Blues AwayI Think You're DuckyThe Merry-Go-Round Broke DownMerrily We Roll Along
Other


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Media

Shows: Tiny Toon Adventures | The Plucky Duck Show | Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain
Film and Specials: How I Spent My Vacation | Spring Break | Tiny Toons' Night Ghoulery
Video games: 1991 LCD video game | 1991 NES video game | Cartoon Workshop | Babs' Big Break | Trouble in Wackyland | Montana's Movie Madness | Buster's Hidden Treasure | Buster Busts Loose! | Cancelled Atari Jaguar video game | Wacky Sports Challenge | ACME All-Stars | Buster and the Beanstalk | The Great Beanstalk | Toonenstein | Plucky's Big Adventure | Buster Saves the Day | Dizzy's Candy Quest | Wacky Stackers | Buster's Bad Dream | Defenders of the Universe (cancelled)

Tiny Toon Adventures Characters

Buster Bunny | Babs Bunny | Plucky Duck | Hamton J. Pig | Dizzy Devil | Shirley the Loon | Furrball | Sweetie Bird | Little Beeper | Calamity Coyote | Li'l Sneezer | Fifi La Fume | Elmyra Duff | Montana Max | Tyrone Turtle

How I Spent My Vacation Characters
The Plucky Duck Show Characters
Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Characters

Pinky | The Brain

Looney Tunes Characters

Bugs Bunny | Daffy Duck | Tweety | Sylvester | Tasmanian Devil | Wile E. Coyote | Michigan J. Frog

Tiny Toon Adventures Episodes
The Plucky Duck Show Episodes
Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Episodes
Songs
Objects
Locations
See Also



v - e - d
Animaniacs
Media

Shows: Animaniacs (Episodes) | Pinky and the Brain (Episodes) | Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain (Episodes) | Video
Segments: Pinky and the Brain | Slappy Squirrel | The Goodfeathers | Mindy and Buttons | Rita and Runt | Minerva Mink | Katie Ka-Boom | Miscellaneous segments
Direct-to-video film: Wakko's Wish
Short: I'm Mad
Video games: 1994 Video game | Game Pack | Ten Pin Alley | A Gigantic Adventure | The Great Edgar Hunt | Lights, Camera, Action!
Interactive CD-Rom: Crazy Paint
Books/Comic Books:
Soundtrack:

Animaniacs Characters
Pinky and the Brain Characters
Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Characters
Animaniacs Episodes
Pinky and the Brain Episodes
Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Episodes
Songs
Locations
Objects
See also

Tiny Toon Adventures | Pinky and the Brain | Freakazoid! | Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain



v - e - d
Space-jam-566c0e18c9ceb
Media

Film | Video game | Soundtrack | Video | Untitled Sequel

Characters

Bugs Bunny | Lola Bunny | Daffy Duck | Porky Pig | Michael Jordan | Elmer Fudd | Sylvester the Cat | Tweety | Tasmanian Devil | Mr. Swackhammer | The Nerdlucks | Yosemite Sam | Granny | Foghorn Leghorn | Marvin the Martian | Stanley Podolak | Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner | Pepé Le Pew | Speedy Gonzales | Sylvester Junior | Pete Puma | Toro the Bull | Henery Hawk | Porky's Drunken Friends | Hector the Bulldog | Gruesome Gorilla | The Crusher | Mama Buzzard | Witch Hazel | Three Bears | The Martin Brothers | Spike and Chester | Sniffles | Rocky and Mugsy | Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot | Ala Bahma | Angus MacRory | Barnyard Dawg | Beaky Buzzard | Bobo the Elephant | Slowpoke Rodriguez | The Weasel | Little Red Riding Hood | Michigan J. Frog | Charlie Dog | Cecil Turtle | Claude Cat | Giovanni Jones | Gossamer | Owl Jolson | Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog | Hippety Hopper | Angus MacRory | Juanita Jordan | Jeffery Jordan | Marcus Jordan | Jasmine Jordan | James Jordan | Jordan's Housekeeper | Bill Murray | Larry Bird

Music

Theme Song | Fly Like an Eagle | The Winner | I Believe I Can Fly | Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem) | I Found My Smile Again | For You I Will | Upside Down ('Round-N-'Round) | Givin' U All That I've Got | Basketball Jones | I Turn to You | All of My Days | That's the Way (I Like It) | Buggin'

Locations

Moron Mountain | Looney Tune Land | The Tune Stadium | Schlesinger Gym

See Also

Looney Tunes | Merrie Melodies | Looney Tunes: Back in Action

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