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Daws Butler: The Voice Behind Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw

Some voice actors are so talented, you really can't recognize them from one cartoon to the next because the voice changes so distinctly from character to character. That is certainly the case with one of the most legendary voices in the game, Daws Butler

Charles Dawson "Daws" Butler grew up in Toledo, Ohio with a knack for doing impressions but had no idea that one day he could turn his voice work into a career. As a young man, he was actually quite shy so he decided to enter impression competitions in order to overcome his fears. Not only did he beat his stage fright, but he started making a name for himself in vaudeville theaters. It wasn't long before Butler was on the radio and, eventually, on TV shows. Tex Avery cast him on Little Rural Riding Hood in the late '40s. By the '50s, Butler and Stan Freberg teamed up in Bob Clampett's puppet show, Time for Beany. Butler has since voiced some of the most iconic cartoons on television before he passed away in 1988.

Here are some of the most iconic voices from his decades-long career. 

Huckleberry Hound

For thirty years, Butler voiced the blue coonhound on The Huckleberry Hound Show and The Good, The Bad and Huckleberry Hound with his identifiable southern drawl. The dog's name was, you guessed it, inspired by Mark Twain's classic book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In fact, Hanna-Barbera almost used the name for another one of their classic characters -- Yogi Bear (also voiced by Butler). Huckleberry Hound, well known for his tone-deaf rendition of  "Oh My Darling, Clementine," was friends with Yogi, Boo Boo, and other characters, in addition to having his own show.

Butler's wife, Myrtis Martin, was originally from Albemarle, North Carolina. She apparently had a neighbor who's voice was so distinct with his southern accent that Butler always got a kick out of imitating him. He remembered that accent when it was time to bring Huck the Hound to life. There were rumors that he was inspired by Andy Griffith from The Andy Griffith Show, but Butler denied those claims since he had been imitating his wife's old neighbor for years.

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Quick Draw McGraw

The gun-wielding cowboy hat-wearing horse, Quick Draw McGraw, was a lawman (law horse?) of the Old West. Frequently accompanied by his burro Baba Looey (also voiced by Butler), out to save the day in satirized Wild West stories. Just because he was a horse, it didn't stop Quick Draw from walking around like a human and riding around his own horse to bring down the bad guys. Snuffles the dog was another Butler voiced character that would pop up on the show from time to time. 

Hanna-Barbera was known for spoofing adult programming in their cartoons and Quick Draw was no exception. He would occasionally take the identity of masked vigilante El Kabong, as an hommage to Zorro

Additional Cartoon Voices

Honestly, just think of a classic cartoon, and odds are, Butler voiced a character on it. The Flintstones? Barney Rubble. The Jetsons? Elroy Jetson. Heck, he even voiced the cereal mascot Cap'n Crunch. Here are some other iconic cartoon characters with Butler behind them -- Chilly Willy, Gabby Gator (from Woody Woodpecker), Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie, Hokey Wolf, Reddy the dog (from The Ruff & Reddy Show), Peter Potamus, Mr. Jinks, Lippy the Lion, Yahooey (from Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey), Scooby-Dum (from The Scooby-Doo Show), numerous voices from The Phantom Tollbooth, Hair Bear (from Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch), Dixie Mouse (from Pixie and Dixie), and many more.

You'd think that with so many voices Butler would have been a regular for Disney as well. But his only known work was as a penguin and turtle in Mary Poppins. Butler also voiced numerous characters in Tom and Jerry shorts, Looney Tunes shorts, and even The Bullwinkle Show. One of the most admirable things about Butler is he never kept his talents to himself. He trained many notable voice actors, including Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), Greg Burson (voice of Yogi Bear and Bugs Bunny), Corey Burton (the voice of Dale in Chip 'n' Dale), Bob Bergen (voice of Porky Pig), Joe Bevilacqua, and many more.

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Daws Butler: The Voice Behind Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw