On this Day in Movie History, April 27, 1900: Animator Walter Lantz Born

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American cartoonist, animator, film producer, and director, best known for creating Woody Woodpecker, Walter Benjamin Lantz was born on this date, April 27, 1900. He would found Walter Lantz Productions.

What was the original inspiration for this irritating bird, Woody Woodpecker? It was while he, Lantz and Grace Stafford, the actress and voice artist who gave birth to this irritating bird. The two married in 1940, and it was while they were on their honeymoon that the idea for the Woody Woodpecker character was born; their roof had become a favorite pecking spot for a pesky woodpecker with whom the couple even played knock-knock games. Rather than vent his frustration with a shotgun, Walter and storyboard artist Ben “Bugs” produced “Knock, Knock.”, an Andy Panda cartoon featuring an obnoxious woodpecker. Lantz and Hardawaywho had previously laid the groundwork for two other screwball characters, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, at the Warner Bros. cartoon studio in the late 1930s.

Woody was originally voiced by prolific voice actor Mel Blanc, who was succeeded by Ben Hardaway and later by Stafford. Gracie provided the red-headed bird’s voice for the rest of her life. WalterLantzandStafford

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