The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia:
Cartune Profiles: Buzz Buzzard


History:

A cel of Buzz Buzzard for Buccaneer Woodpecker (1953)
A cel of Buzz Buzzard for Buccaneer Woodpecker (1953). Coursety of Mike Van Eaton. Click to enlarge.

One of Woody Woodpecker's most memorable foes, and one of the most memorable Lantz characters, was the always dishonest Buzz Buzzard. The character was created by Dick Lundy, who, during his stay at the Lantz studio, sought to make Woody more sympathetic to audiences. The woodpecker's primary antagonist since 1944 had been Wally Walrus. Often receiving the brunt of Woody's wackiness, the hapless Wally was almost too nice for director Lundy. Woody needed an adversary who was tough and mean, not unlike what Yosemite Sam had been to Bugs Bunny at Warner Bros. Such a character would permit people to sympathize with Woody more easily.

A drawing of Buzz Buzzard from his first appearance in Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
A drawing of Buzz Buzzard from his first appearance in Wet Blanket Policy (1948). Courtesy of Monte and Taylor Robison. Click to enlarge.

Lundy found Woody's new opponent in Buzz who made his first appearance in 1948's Wet Blanket Policy. From that point on, the buzzard quickly became a regular antagonist in the Woody series, appearing in two more cartoons released during the height of the woodpecker's popularity in the late 1940s: Wild and Woody and Drooler's Delight. Voiced by Lionel Stander, he was perfect in cartoons requiring Woody to tangle with a tough bandit in the wild west or a crooked conman.

In 1949, the Lantz studio temporarily closed for financial reasons. After it reopened in 1950 and Lantz had successfully renegotiated terms with Universal, Buzz became the primary villain of the studio's first new batch of Woody Woodpecker cartoons. Lundy had since left the studio and it was up to Don Patterson and Lantz himself to handle the Woody cartoons. Dal McKennon became Buzz's new voice starting in 1951 and the character would appear regularly in the series up until 1955. He was replaced with a similar human character named Dapper Denver Dooley, created by director Paul J. Smith and writer Michael Maltese.

After a lengthy hiatus, Buzz returned to the screen in 1969 and appeared in a few Woody cartoons up until the Lantz studio ceased operations in 1972. Following this, the character was prominently featured alongside other Lantz stars in comic books and other merchandise. He was revived in the New Woody Woodpecker Show that aired on Fox Kids from 1999 to 2002 and was notably voiced by Mark Hamill (of the Star Wars fame).

J.H.C. and P.A.S.


Filmography:

1948: Wet Blanket Policy, Wild and Woody!

1949: Drooler's Delight

1951: Puny Express, Slingshot 6 7/8, Destination Meatball

1952: Stage Hoax, Scalp Treatment, The Great Who-Dood-It

1953: Buccaneer Woodpecker, Operation Sawdust, Belle Boys, Hypnotic Hick, Hot Noon (or 12 O'Clock For Sure)

1954: Socko in Morocco, Alley to Bali, Hot Rod Huckster, Real Gone Woody

1955: Bunco Busters

1969: Tumble Weed Greed, Ship A'hoy Woody

1970: Flim Flam Fountain

1972: Indian Corn, Show Biz Beagle, The Genie with the Light Touch

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