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. After the demise of the Droopy series in 1958, the character has been revived several times for new productions, often television shows also featuring MGM's other famous cartoon stars, Tom and Jerry.
In the cartoon Northwest Hounded Police, Droopy's last name was given as "McPoodle". In The Chump Champ, it was given as "Poodle". Nevertheless, Droopy is generally understood to be a basset hound.
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 comedy Fibber 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 Tex 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.
One of Droopy's most famous and surprising traits is his incredible strength, given his diminutive stature and unassuming looks and personality, but it would usually be reserved for when he was upset (with a few rare exceptions, where he would very easily move his adversary beforehand, but without harming him), and then he would monotone: "You know what? That makes me mad", prior to tossing the hapless villain of the piece over his head many times. One such occasion was in Señor Droopy, where he did this to a bull. It happened again in One Droopy Knight, where a dragon was Droopy's victim. In the second case, he also breaks the dragon's tail off and knocks him very far away with it like a baseball bat (apparently, it regenerated like a lizard's tail, given the unharmed dragon later became Droopy's servant/pet). This was also once done by a baby version of Droopy, in the Western-themed short, Homesteader Droopy. One example of Droopy showing his strength without being provoked was in The Chump Champ in which Spike (as "Gorgeous Gorillawitz") stuffs an anvil in a speed bag. Droopy easily punches the bag several times but when Spike takes a swipe at it, half of him shatters to the ground. Another running gag that occurred during many of Droopy's cartoons was whenever Droopy's adversaries were chopping down a tree. As the tree starts coming down and is about to crush the unsuspecting Droopy, the adversary would run far the opposite way, point to the sky, and shout, "TIM.....". Then, in a moment of surprise, the tree would change direction and end up crushing through Spike instead and he would finish by saying, ".....ber" while still pointing to the sky with a look of confusion on his face.
In most of his cartoons, Droopy matches wits with either a slick anthropomorphic Wolf (the Wolf character "portrays" the crooks in both Dumb-hounded and its semi-remake, Northwest Hounded Police (1946)) or a bulldog named "Spike", sometimes silent, sometimes sporting a Gaelic accent. Two Droopy cartoons – The Shooting of Dan McGoo and Wild and Woolfy – also feature appearances from the curvy heroine of Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood (1943) as a damsel in distress being pursued by the Wolf. Three later Droopy cartoons – Three Little Pups (1953), Blackboard Jumble (1957), and Sheep Wrecked (1958) – feature a slow-moving southern wolf character. Voiced by Daws Butler in a dialect he later used for Hanna-Barbera's Huckleberry Hound, this wolf was a more deadpan character with a tendency to whistle "Kingdom Coming" (aka "Jubalio") to himself (much like Huckleberry would sing "Oh My Darling Clementine" to himself).
Avery took a year-long break from MGM from 1950 to 1951, during which time Dick Lundy took over his unit to do one Droopy cartoon, Caballero Droopy, and several Barney Bear cartoons. Avery returned in late 1951 and continued with Droopy and his one-shots until the Avery unit was dissolved by MGM in 1953. Michael Lah, an Avery animator, stayed on long enough to help William Hanna and Joseph Barbera complete Deputy Droopy after Avery had left the studio. Lah himself then left MGM, but returned in 1955 to direct CinemaScope Droopy cartoons costarring either Spike (now called Butch because of the same-named bulldog in Hanna and Barbera's Tom and Jerry cartoons) or the "Kingdom Coming"-whistling wolf. The opening title card was replaced with a newly drawn sequence in which Droopy gives his deadpan greeting: "Hello, all you happy people." Seven Droopy cartoons were created under the H-B production stable. One of these, One Droopy Knight (1957), was nominated for the 1957 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons). However, by the time of One Droopy Knight's release in December 1957, the MGM cartoon studio had been closed for six months, a casualty of corporate downsizing.
In 1980, Filmation produced a series of lower-budget Droopy shorts for television as part of a new Tom and Jerry show. In the 1990s Hanna-Barbera offering Tom & Jerry Kids Droopy had a young son named Dripple (voiced by Charlie Adler), an older version of the infant we see in Homesteader Droopy. The mild success of the show provided perhaps the most Droopy merchandise: plush toys, gummy snacks, figurines, etc. Tom & Jerry Kids had a spin-off series, Droopy, Master Detective. He also had cameos in two theatrical features: as an elevator operator in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (where he was voiced by the film's animation director Richard Williams), and in Tom and Jerry: The Movie. Droopy also had cameos in all three subsequent Disney-produced Roger Rabbit shorts, Tummy Trouble (again he's an elevator operator), Roller Coaster Rabbit (he plays a bad guy dressed as Snidely Whiplash), and Trail Mix-Up (he plays a scuba diver). Droopy also appears in the 2006 cartoon series Tom and Jerry Tales and direct-to-video movies like Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring.
In the early 2000s, Droopy appeared in a Cartoon Network short entitled Thanks a Latté, in which he works at a coffee shop and forces a stingy wolf into giving him a tip. In said short, the character is depicted with a bald head. The short now airs on Cartoon Network's sister channel Boomerang. During the same period, Droopy was also featured in Adult Swim's Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law in the episode "Droopy Botox" voiced by Maurice LaMarche. He is seen seeking a settlement after a cosmetic surgeon injected him with too much botox (a running gag in this episode was the fact that Droopy was often seen crying despite having a huge grin frozen on his face, whereas in the classic cartoons a sad-faced Droopy would often say, "You know what? I'm happy"). A memorable Cartoon Network promotional spot featured Droopy (voiced by Don Messick) and Shaggy from Scooby-Doo parodying a dialog scene between Jules and Vincent in Pulp Fiction.
A three-issue Droopy comic book miniseries was released in the mid-1990s by Dark Horse Comics.
In 1997, Droopy appeared in Cartoon Network's Bloopers Of The Cartoon Stars bumper. Here in his blooper reel he says his signature line "I'm so happy" while actually smiling.
The Droopy shorts were directed by Tex Avery (1943-1955), Dick Lundy (1952), and Michael Lah (1955-1958) at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio in Hollywood, California. All shorts were released to theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Fred Quimby was the producer of the first 17 shorts from 1943-1955. Quimby retired in 1955 and from 1956 to 1958, Hanna and Barbera produced the shorts until MGM closed the cartoon studio in 1957, and the last cartoon was released in 1958. Most of these cartoons were produced in the standard Academy ratio (1.37:1), 7 cartoons were produced in widescreen CinemaScope format only.
Like any other studio, MGM reissued and edited its cartoons when re-released to theaters. Many pre-1951 cartoons were reissued with Perspecta Sound, which was introduced in 1954. MGM also reissued its cartoons before the introduction of Perspecta Sound. Because of the 1967 MGM vault fire, only the backup prints of pre-1951 MGM cartoons exist (usually the altered reissue prints).
|Title||Director(s)||Producer(s)||Original release date||Notes|
|Dumb-Hounded||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||March 20, 1943|
|The Shooting of Dan McGoo||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||March 3, 1945|
|Wild and Woolfy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||November 3, 1945|
|Northwest Hounded Police||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||August 3, 1946|
|Señor Droopy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||April 9, 1949|
|Wags to Riches||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||August 13, 1949||Remade as Millionaire Droopy (1956).|
|Out-Foxed||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||November 5, 1949|
|The Chump Champ||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||November 4, 1950|
|Daredevil Droopy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||March 31, 1951|
|Droopy's Good Deed||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||May 5, 1951|
|Droopy's "Double Trouble"||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||November 17, 1951|
|Caballero Droopy||Dick Lundy||Fred Quimby||September 27, 1952|
|The Three Little Pups||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||February 28, 1953|
|Drag-a-Long Droopy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||February 20, 1954|
|Homesteader Droopy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||July 10, 1954|
|Dixieland Droopy||Tex Avery||Fred Quimby||December 4, 1954|
|Deputy Droopy||Tex Avery|
|Fred Quimby||October 28, 1955|
|Millionaire Droopy||Tex Avery||William Hanna|
|September 21, 1956||A Cinemascope remake of Wags To Riches.|
|Grin and Share It||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|May 17, 1957|
|Blackboard Jumble||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|October 4, 1957|
|One Droopy Knight||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|December 6, 1957||Produced in CinemaScope|
|Sheep Wrecked||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|February 7, 1958||
Produced in CinemaScope.
|Mutts About Racing||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|April 4, 1958||Produced in CinemaScope|
|Droopy Leprechaun||Michael Lah||William Hanna|
|July 4, 1958||Produced in CinemaScope|