Chilly Willy - The 1953 cartoon character

Chilly Willy - The 1953 cartoon character

Chilly Willy is a cartoon character, a tiny penguin. It was invented by director Paul Smith for the Walter Lantz studio in 1953 and further developed by Tex Avery in the two films following Smith's debut. The character soon became the second most popular Lantz / Universal character, behind Woody Woodpecker. Fifty Chilly Willy cartoons were produced between 1953 and 1972.

Chilly willy

Chilly Willy was inspired by mystery writer Stuart Palmer, according to Scott MacGillivray's book Castle Films: A Hobbyist's Guide. Palmer used the Lantz studio as a backdrop for his novel Cold Poison, in which the cartoon star was a penguin character, and Lantz adopted the penguin idea for the screen. The inspiration for Chilly Willy came from the character of Pablo the Penguin from the 1945 Disney film The Three Caballeros.

Chilly Willy appeared in 50 film shorts produced by Lantz from 1953 to 1972, most of which relate to his attempts to stay warm, and often encountered opposition from a dog named Smedley (voiced by Daws Butler in his voice "Huckleberry Hound"). Smedley has a large mouth and sharp teeth (which he shows off when he yawns), but he is never shown, fiercely trying to bite Chilly or anyone else with them. There were times, however, when Chilly and Smedley got along, as they did in Vicious Viking and Fractured Friendship. However, Chilly never referred to Smedley by name. Most of the times Chilly argued with Smedley, the two eventually became friends. Chilly was more of a nuisance to Smedley than an enemy, often showing up where Smedley works, usually for a petty employer. Many times, the notion of plot was extremely weak, it seemed to be a random collection of loosely related gags versus a coherent story.

Smedley, and Chilly Willy

Two of Chilly's friends in later cartoons were Maxie the Polar Bear (voiced by Daws Butler) and Gooney the Albatross "Gooney Bird" (voiced by Daws Butler playing Joe E. Brown). Maxie appeared with Chilly more than Gooney. There have only been two cartoons in which all three characters have appeared together: Gooney's Goofy Landings (where Chilly and Maxie try to perfect Gooney's landings) and Airlift à la Carte (where Chilly, Maxie and Gooney go to the shop they own. by Smedley).

Chilly willy

In some episodes, Chilly Willy also deals with a hunter named Colonel Pot Shot (voiced by Daws Butler) for whom Smedley has been shown to work in a few episodes. Pot Shot would give orders in a calm, controlled voice, and then explode with anger when he told Smedley what would happen if he failed in his goal. Also, in two episodes Chilly Willy outsmarted Wally Walrus, when Chilly Willy stumbles upon his fishing projects.

Paul Smith directed the first Chilly Willy cartoon, simply titled Chilly Willy, in 1953. The initial version of Chilly Willy resembled Woody Woodpecker, except for the black flippers and feathers, but was redrawn in its more familiar form in later cartoons. .

Tex Avery revives the character for two of his shorts, I'm Cold (1954) and the Oscar-nominated The Legend of Rockabye Point (1955). After Avery left the studio, Alex Lovy took over, starting with directing Hot and Cold Penguin.

In most cartoons of the 50s and early 60s Chilly was mute, although he was voiced by Sara Berner in the opening voice. The first time he spoke was in Half-Baked Alaska in 1965, with Daws Butler providing Chilly's voice through the end of the series in a style similar to his characterization of Elroy Jetson. The character always speaks in character-based comic stories. Also in the comic book stories, Chilly had two nephews named Ping and Pong, similar to how Woody Woodpecker is the uncle of Twins Knothead and Splinter.

When the Lantz cartoons were made for television in 1957 as The Woody Woodpecker Show, Chilly Willy was a featured attraction on the show, and has remained so in all subsequent releases of the Woody Woodpecker Show package.

Technical data

First appearance Chilly Willy (1953)
Created by Paul J. Smith (original)
Tex Avery (redesign)
Adapted from Walter Lantz Productions
Designed by Tex Avery
Voiced by Sara Berner (1953)
Bonnie Baker (1956–1961)
(singing voice in the openings)
Grace Stafford (1957–1964) [1]
Gloria Wood (1957) [1]
Daws Butler (1965–1972)
Brad Norman (2018)
Dee Bradley Baker (2020-present)