- Year created: 1935
- Future food type: Bacon
- Biggest mystery: Why he is popular
The Porky Pig cartoon is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He was the first character created by the studio to draw audiences based on his star power, and the animators (particularly Bob Clampett) created many critically acclaimed shorts using the fat little pig. Even after he was supplanted by later characters, Porky continued to be popular with moviegoers and, more importantly, the Warners directors, who recast him in numerous everyman and sidekick roles. He is known for his signature line at the end of each short, “Th-th-th-that’s all folks!” The slogan had also been used by both Bosko and Buddy and even Beans at the end of every Looney Tunes cartoon. In contrast, the Merrie Melodies series used the slogan: So Long, Folks! until the late 1930s when it was replaced with the same one used on the Looney Tunes series. (When Bugs Bunny was the closing character, he would break the pattern by simply saying, in his Brooklynese accent, “And Dat’s De End!”). He is the oldest continuing Looney Tunes character.
Porky Pig Cartoon Stutter
The Porky Pig cartoon’s most distinctive trait is a severe stutter, for which he sometimes compensates by replacing his words; for example, “What’s going on?” might become “What’s guh-guh-guh-guh—…what’s happening?” In the ending of many Looney Tunes cartoons, Porky Pig bursts through a bass drum head, and his farewell line “That’s all folks!” becomes “Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-… That’s all, folks.” Porky Pig would appear in 152 cartoons in the Golden Age of American animation.
Porky Pig Cartoon Development
The Porky Pig cartoon was designed by animator Bob Clampett and introduced in the short I Haven’t Got a Hat (first released on March 9, 1935), directed by Friz Freleng. Studio head Leon Schlesinger suggested that Freleng do a cartoon version of the popular Our Gang films. Porky only has a minor role in the film, but the fat little stuttering pig quickly became popular. Porky’s name came from two brothers who were childhood classmates of Freleng’s, nicknamed “Porky” and “Piggy”. Since Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising had left the studio in 1933, taking the studio’s star character Bosko with them, Looney Tunes had been kept afloat by cartoons featuring the bland Buddy. Porky’s introduction ushered Buddy out the door and pointed to things to come. Tex Avery was hired to the studio in 1935, and his film Gold Diggers of ’49 reused much of the cast from I Haven’t Got a Hat, albeit in wildly different roles. Porky transitioned from a shy little boy to an immensely fat adult. Though he was still in a supporting role, Porky got most of the laughs. The directors realized they had a star on their hands. Porky shared his stutter with the voice actor who originally played him, Joe Dougherty, who actually did have a stuttering problem. Because Dougherty could not control his stutter, however, production costs became too high and his recording sessions took hours.
Porky Pig Cartoon’s Downfall
The Porky Pig cartoon’s post at the pinnacle of the Warners’ pantheon was short-lived however. In 1937, Avery pitted Porky against a plucky black duck who soon was christened Daffy and who became the studio’s biggest star (until he himself was replaced by Bugs Bunny). In fact, Friz Freleng satirized this phenomenon when he directed You Ought To Be in Pictures (1940). The film features Daffy convincing Porky to quit his job at Warner Bros. to find better-paying work elsewhere. In turn, Porky convinces studio head Leon Schlesinger to release him from his contract. After a highly unsuccessful foray into the real world, Porky returns happily to the studio that created him. To this day, Porky remains as a loyal sidekick while Daffy refuses to be a second banana to Bugs. Porky always remained a sentimental favorite of the Warner directors. His mild-mannered nature and shy demeanor made him the perfect straight man for zanier characters such as Daffy.
Some of this article uses modified material from the Wikipedia article on the Porky Pig cartoon “Porky Pig“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.