Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Don Messick (September 7 1926 - October 24 1997) was an American voice actor, one of the most prolific voice actors of the second half of the 20th century. Messick, a native of Buffalo, New York, was most famous as the voice of several Hanna-Barbera characters, including Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, Boo-Boo Bear , Muttley from Wacky Races and Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines, The Jetsons's dog Astro, and Jonny Quest's father Dr. Benton Quest.
He first wanted to be a ventriloquist, and even for a time supported himself as one.
His big break came in the mid-1940s. At MGM, Tex Avery was doing the Droopy Dog cartoons. The regular voice actor, radio actor Bill Thompson , wasn't available. Daws Butler, who voiced characters for MGM, suggested that Avery seek out Don Messick. And so, Messick was called on to voice Droopy. Later, in the mid-1950s, when Bill Thompson parted ways with MGM, Messick took over the role of Droopy.
Messick and Butler became a voice acting team for the Hanna-Barbera unit in 1957 with the arrival of Ruff and Reddy. Don was Ruff the cat and the Droopy-sounding Professor Gizmo. Butler was the southern-speaking dog, Reddy. Messick also narrated the show, which played out like an animated soap opera.
From 1957 to 1965, Butler and Messick gave voice to a staggering amount of characters. Always the side-kick, Messick's characters weren't headliners. His notable roles in this era were "Boo-Boo", "Ranger Smith", "Major Minor", "Pixie Mouse", "Astro", and "Uniblab". Messick was used primarily for his narration skills, which were heard on ALL of those cartoons that Daws Butler starred in. The off-camera voice telling us about the latest fiasco Quick Draw McGraw got himself into was Don Messick. Butler was Quick Draw and his Meixcan side-kick, Baba Looey.
Messick would eventually star in a cartoon series: Ricochet Rabbit . This character was paired with the slow-poke Deputy Droop-a-Long. Mel Blanc was the voice of the deputy.
The outer space cartoons were where Messick really shone. His unique gift at creating noises and sounds for weird space creatures and aliens really helped the space cartoons in a big way. His "Ranger Smith" voice was often heard as space villains. His narrator voice was given to "Vapor Man", "Dr. Benton Quest", and "Multi-Man".
In 1969 he was cast as the cowardly canine "Scooby-Doo" on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. This role would remain Messick's biggest and best-known. He voiced the Great Dane through all of the various versions of Scooby-Doo: on TV in numerous formats from 1969 to 1985, four teleflms, and a number of commercials as well. Messick was still voicing the role when A Pup Named Scooby-Doo came along from 1988 to 1991.
His narrating voice was heard on the Laff-a-Lympics program in 1977 and on Hong Kong Phooey in 1974. In the '80s his biggest role was Papa Smurf on the Smurfs series from 1981 to 1990. In the 1990s, he voiced Hamton J. Pig in FOX's Tiny Toon Adventures and its spinoffs from 1991 to 1995. FOX also had Messick return to his Droopy character for Droopy: Master Detective in 1992.
In 1996, at the age of 70, Messick suffered a stroke while inside a cartoon studio recording voices. It has been said that Messick turned pale, looked over at the director and said: "I can't do this anymore," then stumbled out to his car and drove home. A week later, Messick's agent sent word that he was retired.
- Don Messick Tribute Short biography of Don Messick
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