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Donald Earl "Don" Messick (September 7, 1926October 24, 1997) was one of the most prolific voice actors of the 20th century. He voiced several classic cartoon characters, including Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Bear, Muttley, Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Astro, Zorak, Godzooky, Dr. Benton Quest, and Papa Smurf.

Early life and career

Messick was born in Buffalo, New Yorkmarker, the son of Lena Birch (née Hughes) and Binford Earl Messick, a house painter. He first wanted to be a ventriloquist, and even supported himself as one for a time. His big break came in the mid-1940s. At MGM, Tex Avery was producing the Droopy Dog cartoons. The regular voice actor, radio actor Bill Thompson, was not available. Daws Butler, who voiced characters for MGM, suggested that Avery seek out Messick, and so, he was hired 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 large number of characters. Always the side-kick, Messick’s characters were not headliners. His notable roles in this era were Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, Major Minor, Pixie Mouse, Astro and Muttley.

Messick was used primarily for his narration skills, which were heard on many of those cartoons in which Daws Butler starred. In narrating the Yogi Bear cartoons, he also voiced Ranger Smith in something close to his natural voice, leaving the impression that the Ranger was narrating the cartoons.

Messick would eventually star in a cartoon series: Ricochet Rabbit. This character was paired with the slow-poke Deputy Droop-a-Long, voiced by Mel Blanc.

In outer space cartoons, Messick created noises and sounds for weird space creatures and aliens. His "Ranger Smith" voice was often heard as various space villains. His narrator voice was given to Vapor Man, Dr. Benton Quest, The Perilous Paper Doll Man, and Multi Man. His narrating voice was also heard on Hong Kong Phooey and Laff-A-Lympics.

In 1974, he performed on Hong Kong Phooey as Spot the cat, Hong Kong Phooey's faithful sidekick

Scooby Doo and later roles

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 television in numerous formats from 1969 to 1985, four television films, 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. From 1980 to 1988, Messick also voiced Scooby's nephew, Scrappy-Doo.

In 1981 Messick started another well-known role as Papa Smurf on the Smurfs series from 1981 to 1990. He also voiced Ratchet (the Autobot doctor), Gears, and Constructicon Scavenger on The Transformers.

In the mid-1980s, new episodes of The Jetsons were produced. Messick returned as Astro, RUDI, and new voice Uniblab, a pesky robot that worked for Mr. Spacely.

Messick also appeared in a rare, on-camera role on the MTM Enterprises sitcom Duck Factory, playing a cartoon voice artist named Wally Wooster (who's so versatile at cartoon voices, that he's forgotten his own!). In one episode, frequent collaborator Frank Welker guest-starred as a rival voice artist angling for his job.

From 1990 to 1995, he voiced Hamton J. Pig in FOX's Tiny Toon Adventures and its spin-offs.

Around that time, Don Messick also returned as the voice of Droopy for Tom and Jerry Kids and Droopy, Master Detective.

At a charity speaking engagement in Londonmarker, shortly before his death, Messick performed as many of his characters, except Scooby Doo. He claimed that giving up smoking had robbed him of the rasp in the voice that he needed.

Death

In 1996, Messick suffered a stroke while recording voices at a cartoon studio. 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 had retired.

Messick suffered a second stroke and died on October 24, 1997. He was cremated. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Oceanmarker at the Point Lobos State Reservemarker.

After Messick's death, Scott Innes and Frank Welker have both played the role of Scooby Doo.

References

  1. http://www.filmreference.com/film/84/Don-Messick.html
  2. povonline.com


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