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Speedy Gonzales
Speedy gonzales.jpg
Speedy Gonzales, in the Freleng redesign.
First appearance Cat-Tails for Two (1953)
Created by Robert McKimson (original)
Friz Freleng/Hawley Pratt (redesign)
Voiced by Mel Blanc (1953–1989)
Joe Alaskey (commercials)
Eric Goldberg (Looney Tunes: Back In Action)
Bob Bergen (1990-present)

Speedy Gonzales (or Gonzalez or simply Speedy), "The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico", is an animated cartoon mouse from the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. Speedy's major traits are his ability to run extremely fast and his comedic Mexican accent. He usually wears an oversized yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers, and a red kerchief, similar to that of a reveler in the San Fermin festival. To date, there have been 46 cartoons made either starring or featuring this character.

Contents

History

Speedy debuted in 1953's Cat-Tails for Two, directed by Robert McKimson. This early Speedy was a meaner, skinnier, rattier-looking creation with a sizable gold front tooth. The cartoon featured him outwitting a smart-and-stupid pair of cats, George and Benny (parodies of George and Lenny), aboard a ship.

A prototype version of Speedy Gonzales, designed by Robert McKimson

It would be two years before Friz Freleng and animator Hawley Pratt redesigned the character into his modern incarnation for the 1955 Freleng short, Speedy Gonzales. The cartoon features Sylvester the Cat menacing a group of mice while guarding a cheese factory at the Mexican border. The mice call in the plucky, excessively energetic Speedy to save them, and amid cries of "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!" (Spanish for "Go on! Go on! Up! Up!) courtesy of Mel Blanc, Sylvester soon gets his comeuppance. The cartoon won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).

While Speedy's last name was given as putito in Cat-Tails (on a printed business card shown in the cartoon), it was of course spelled with an S from Speedy Gonzales onward. Today, the earlier spelling is occasionally used by accident.

Freleng and McKimson soon set Sylvester up as Speedy's regular nemesis in a series of cartoons, much in the same way Chuck Jones had paired Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner in his Road Runner cartoons. Sylvester (often called "El Gringo Pussygato" by Speedy) is constantly outsmarted and outrun by the mouse, causing the cat to suffer all manner of pain and humiliation from mousetraps to accidentally consuming large amounts of hot sauce. Other cartoons pair the mouse with his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, the "slowest mouse in all Mexico." Slowpoke regularly gets into all sorts of trouble that often require Speedy to save him. In the mid 1960s, Speedy's main nemesis became Daffy Duck.

1999-2002 Cartoon Network ban

In 1999, Cartoon Network ceased to air Speedy Gonzales. In an interview, Cartoon Network spokeswoman, Laurie Goldberg commented, "It hasn't been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes". This is widely believed to refer to Speedy's fellow mice, who are all very slow, lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated. This is particularly true of Speedy's cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, who is exceptionally slow and lazy.[1]

In Gonzales' Tamales, the town mice instigate a feud between Speedy and Sylvester the Cat because Speedy has been stealing the hearts of all the females. Much of the dialogue between Mexican characters is in English and the small amount of Spanish that peppers the dialogue consists of basic greetings, goodbyes, exclamations, and misplaced references to popular Mexican foods. This criticism prompted Cartoon Network to largely shelve Speedy's films when it gained exclusive rights to broadcast them in 1999. However, fan campaigns to put Speedy back on the air and lobbying by The League of United Latin American Citizens saw the shorts return to air from 2002.[2] Despite the controversy in the USA, Speedy Gonzales remains a very popular character in Latin America. In Mexico, the Speedy Gonzales show has been on and off part of the regular programing of Televisa's Canal 5 national channel ever since it was created. In 2010, a Looney Toons New Year's Day marathon on Cartoon Network showed the episode "Mexican Boarders" having both Speedy and Slowpoke.

Other appearances

In 1983, he co-starred in Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island. In 1988, he made a cameo appearance in the ending scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In 1996, he made a short appearance in film Space Jam. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance alongside Porky Pig in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, making fun of his politically incorrect status. At around the same time, he made a non-speaking cameo in an episode of ¡Mucha Lucha! titled "Lucha, Rinse and Repeat". Volume 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series, released on November 14, 2006, has an entire disc of Speedy shorts, although some shorts had previously been released on Volumes 1 and 3. Speedy is mentioned in one Duck Dodgers episode, after Cadet sits on Dodgers, prompting him to say, "I knew I should've chosen Speedy Gonzales as a sidekick!"

In other media

In 1962, pop singer Pat Boone scored a top 10 hit in the United States with the song "Speedy Gonzales" which featured Mel Blanc spouting faux-Mexican phrases as Speedy. It was also sung by Manolo Muñoz and A.B. Quintanilla's Kumbia All Starz, whose music video featured Speedy.

In 2006, Volkswagen licensed Speedy Gonzales for a series of Spanish-language commercials for the Volkswagen Golf, using footage from the cartoon of the same name.[3]

In February 2010, New Line and Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they are planning a live-action/CG-animated combo feature film based on the Looney Tunes character.[4] Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, who adapted comic "Garfield" into a similar style live-action/CG hybrid family film, will pen the script for the coming-of-age story which is set in the present day. The story has Speedy, a young and misunderstood Mexican mouse, finding himself leaving his family to go out in the world and figure out what he's good at. He soon makes friends with a nervous race-car driver. George Lopez will voice the character and produce along with Anne Lopez, Lynette Ramirez, Jerry Weintraub, Tracy Ryerson and Jill Arthur.

Capulina Speedy Gonzales

In 1968, Gaspar "Capulina" Henaine, a popular Mexican comedic actor, starred in a movie[5] based on some of the character trademarks and name. The story has a Mexican postal worker becoming incredibly fast whenever he eats a specific type of chilli pepper. The movie features the a version of the Muñoz of the Speedy Gonzales song as well as many of the stereotypes featured in the cartoons (the drinking, the laziness, the old fashioned Mexican way of dressing, the references to the USA views on Mexican culture, etc.).

See also

References

Further reading

  • Nericcio, William Anthony (2006). Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the "Mexican" in America. University of Texas Press.
  • Schneider, Steve (1990). That's All Folks!: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation. Henry Holt & Co.
  • Solomon, Charles (1994). The History of Animation: Enchanted Drawings. Random House Value Publishing.

External links








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