BEAKY BUZZARDMedium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1943
Creator: Bob Clampett
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Buzzards are generally regarded as filthy, ugly, cowardly, and not very bright. Maybe that's why you can count the famous buzzards of animation on the fingers of no hands. In fact, even setting your
sights lower than fame, it's hard to think of very many buzzards that appeared in more than one cartoon. Aside from Buzz Buzzard, a minor Woody Woodpecker antagonist, there's just this scrawny little dink, who's pretty contemptible even by buzzard standards.
Beaky Buzzard, both physically and mentally the runt of his litter, first appeared in Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid, which Warner Bros. released on July 4, 1942. The director (and creator of the character) was Bob Clampett, the man who created Tweety Bird, introduced Gremlins to the cartoon world, and later created Beany & Cecil. Beaky's voice was provided by Kent Rogers (Horton the Elephant, Joonyer Bear), in imitation of ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's character, Mortimer Snerd. (It was also reminiscent of Pinto Colvig's Goofy.)
A few months later, Beaky was holding down a series in Dell's Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies comic book, where he was frequently teamed with another minor Warner character, Henery Hawk. It was three years, tho, before he appeared in another cartoon, The Bashful Buzzard (1945), in which he experienced his finest moment. As his siblings returned to the nest carrying large, dangerous game animals, Beaky laconically flapped back with his claw wrapped around a barely visible insect, cheerfully singing "I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee!"
The expectation was that he'd go on to be a regular. There was even a brief flurry of Beaky Buzzard merchandising. But his career was curtailed by a double whammy — Clampett left Warner Bros. and Rogers was killed in World War II. Beaky's comic book series, too, began to falter — not that it was all that big to begin with, as he was never even mentioned on the book's cover.
Still, he was revived in 1950, with Mel Blanc doing his voice, in The Lion's Busy (directed by Friz Freleng) and Strife with Father (Bob McKimson). Those four cartoons comprise Beaky's entire oeuvre in theatrical animation. He made a few comic book appearances during the '50s, but only as a minor supporting character.
He was revived, sort of, in Tiny Toon Adventures, as mentor to Concord Condor, but was scarcely even visible in that series (as was Concord, for that matter). Still, he's either the most prominent buzzard in cartoons or the second-most prominent, depending on whether or not you think Buzz Buzzard is an even more minor character.