BUDDYMedium: Theatrical animation
Produced by: Warner Bros.
First Appeared: 1933
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Buddy was a Warner Bros. character who barely predated that studio's so-called Golden Age. He starred in no less than 23 cartoons, all of which had his name as part of the title. His directors included
Jack King (Donald Duck), Friz Freleng (Yosemite Sam) and Ben Hardaway (Bugs Bunny). So, why isn't he on everyone's lips when they talk about classic cartoon characters of the 1930s?
The consensus seems to be the reason his cartoons haven't been remembered well is that they weren't very much worth watching even then. Buddy was created in a hurry, because the studio had unexpectedly lost its star, Bosko, when founding directors Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising moved to MGM. Unlike many character creators, Harman and Ising owned Bosko, and took him with them. Buddy, who succeeded the departed one as the Looney Tunes star with Buddy's Day Out, released Sept. 9, 1933, was designed to fit as seamlessly as possible into the vacated niche.
But the fit couldn't be perfect, or the Schlesinger Studio, which was producing Warner's cartoons, would look like it was stealing the character by making only superficial changes. So Buddy was Bosko without any of Bosko's character traits — bland and uninteresting, in other words. He was often called "Bosko in whiteface", and the leaching from him of anything colorful extended to more than just his skin.
One of many ways in which Buddy resembled Bosko was that he had a girlfriend, Cookie (no relation), to match Bosko's Honey. In fact, with the very occasional exception of Porky Pig, Bosko and Buddy were the only Warner Bros. characters who had girlfriends. Cookie's voice was done by Bernice Hansen, whose other roles include Andy Panda and Sniffles. Buddy was Jack Carr, whose face acting credits span the 1930s to the '60s, but who didn't do any other voice-only roles.
Even with the rush to get him into production, Buddy did represent a design advance over Bosko. Instead of the rubber-limbed style that had been popular since Felix the Cat, he had discernable elbows and knees. Tho there are exceptions, that's been the norm for animated characters since about the time of Buddy's heyday.
It may have been lack of alternatives that caused Buddy to remain the Looney Tunes star for nearly two years. Eventually, tho, they started developing those alternatives, and Buddy was replaced. His last cartoon, Buddy the Gee Man, was released August 24, 1935. Talents like Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Mel Blanc took the studio to greatness, but Buddy didn't become part of that. In fact, was never again seen in a theatrically-released cartoon.
Generations later, most living viewers having become familiar with him only as an occasionally-spotted figure from back when they showed black and white cartoons on TV, he turned up in an episode of Animaniacs, where, in clear violation of the historical fact that he had no real character, he played the villain in a Warners segment. But he never turned up in comic books, Big Little Books, Little Golden Books, or anywhere else.