YAKKY DOODLEMedium: Television animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1960
Creators: Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera (directors); Jimmy Weldon (voice actor)
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the hardest to comprehend — that would be Donald Duck. He isn't the dumbest about walking into danger, either — that, without a doubt, is Baby Huey. But he's a good, solid runner-up in all those categories, and that, too, is an achievement of sorts.
Yakky had his origins in a voice created by kid show host Jimmy Weldon, whose "partner" was Webster Webfoot, a dummy in the form of a funny animal duck. Weldon's duck voice was very different from the one Clarence "Ducky" Nash created for Disney's most famous fowl, but equally suggestive of quacking. Starting in the 1940s, Weldon-voiced ducks began turning up as supporting characters in Tom & Jerry cartoons. Tho these characters differed in coloring, accoutrements, motivation, intelligence, etc., they all had the same "adorable duckling" shape, and they sounded identical.
In Little Quacker (released January 7, 1950), the Weldon duck was newly hatched, and decided his Mommy was Tom — who, of course, only wanted to eat him. This variant on the well-established string of ducks went over so well, it was repeated several times over the next few years. When its directors, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, went into business for themselves as Hanna-Barbera and decided to introduce a Weldon-voiced duck of their own, they used the character in Little Quacker as their template. They couldn't make him quite so naive he thought a notorious predator was his mother (that would strain credibility, done episode after episode), but they did characterize him as needing considerable guidance in the art of recognizing danger.
Yakky made his debut in an episode of Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy (one of the back segments of Quick Draw McGraw's show) that aired early in 1960. When, on January 30, 1961, Yogi Bear got his own show, Yakky had a segment on it. (The third segment starred Snagglepuss, a pink mountain lion.)
Yakky's main antagonist was Fibber Fox, voiced by Daws Butler (Huckleberry Hound, Cap'n Crunch). Butler was also the voice of Alfy Gator, a second-string villain in Yakky's series. As a plausible way to keep Yakky from getting eaten every time he appeared, they gave him a pal and protector, Chopper, a friendly but formidable bulldog, voiced by Vance Colvig (son of Pinto "Goofy" Colvig).
Yakky wasn't a superstar, but got big enough to support a little merchandising, including a oneshot comic book from Gold Key, which came out in 1962. That same year, the Yogi Bear show went out of production, after 32 episodes, and went into endless reruns. After that, Yakky's fate was that of most Hanna-Barbera characters — appearances now and then on ensemble shows like Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics, just to keep his trademark from lapsing.
Yakky is seldom seen anymore, except in reruns. But he's still well known. Jimmy Weldon, now a motivational speaker, still carries Webster Webfoot around for his speaking engagements, and still does the Yakky Doodle voice as part of the act.