Tex Avery — The MGM Years
Fredrick Bean “Tex” Avery was born on February 26, 1908 in Taylor, Texas. Tex’s interest in animation stemmed from an early age. He began drawing comic strips in high school. He also spent a summer studying art at the Chicago Art Institute. Tex made a move to California in the early 1930s. He began his animation career as a painter for Walter Lantz. It was there that he learned all the ins and outs of the mechanics of animation. Soon he became a storyboard artist.
In 1935, Tex went to work for the Leon Schlesinger unit at Warner Bros. A master at character creation he went on to create some of the best known characters in the world including, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and the psyche of the Bunny we now know as Bugs. He stayed at Warner until 1941 when a creative dispute with Schlesinger led to his quitting in the early part of 1941.
Subsequently, in 1941 Tex found employment with MGM producer Fred Quimby. Quimby supplied Tex with the creative freedom he needed to create the best cartoons of his career. He concentrated on creating characters suited to supply the world with some of the best slapstick gags and humorous situations of any cartoons before and after his MGM years. He created a lot of characters of which Droopy was the most popular.
Under the auspicious of Quimby Tex’s creativity reached its pinnacle. He became the father of lunacy and fast acting gags. He developed a dangerously fast pace using the mediums of film and animation in a way that no other cartoon directors even thought to try. At MGM he also had larger expense accounts with superior quality production levels than he saw while at Warner. He was also able to draw on talents such as ex-Disney artists like Preston Blair and Ed Love. These changes were clear with Tex’s first MGM short entitled The Blitz Wolf, which was a parody of Hitler. This short afforded Tex the nomination of the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) in 1942.
Droopy, Avery’s most famous MGM character made his debut in 1943 with Dumb-Hounded. Droopy was a slow speaking and slow moving dog who always won in the end. Tex also created a series of risqué cartoons, beginning with Red Hot Riding Hood in 1943. Red Hot Riding Hood was an ultra sexy vamp. She wasn’t christened with a name but all of us fans just call her “Red”. Other popular Tex Avery characters at MGM were Screwy Squirrel and George and Junior who were inspired by George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men.
Other cartoons from the MGM years which are distinguished include Bad Luck Blackie, Cellbound, Magical Maestro, Lucky Ducky, Ventriloquist Cat and King-Size Canary. When Tex started with MGM his work was full of bright colors and realistic backgrounds which were a sign of the time, but with studios such as UPA coming into play he discarded this style for a weirder, less practical approach. This stylized look mirrored the need to cut costs, not to mention his ongoing need to leave authenticity behind. This was the time he did his “Tomorrow” series which explored technological themes including, The House of Tomorrow, The Car of Tomorrow, The Farm of Tomorrow and TV of Tomorrow.
Filmography (Thanks to TexAvery.com) with links.
A wolf that resembles Hitler takes a crack at the three little pigs.
A worm tries to outmaneuver an early bird with aid from a cat.
Droopy tracks down escaped convict Wolf. Is this the only cartoon where Droopy actually barked??
Wolf tries to pull the old Red Riding Hood gag in order to meet up with Little Red, but Grandma has other ideas.
Avery spoofs a few murder mysteries.
Wolf, dressed as Santa, tries to bag some ham but is outsmarted by Jr. Pig.
Two buzzards are desperate to get a bite to eat.
Screwy Squirrel beats the stuffing out of Sammy Squirrel then torments Meathead the Dog for the rest of the picture.
Avery spoofs baseball. That guy in the stands should have just kept his mouth shut.
Screwy Squirrel escapes from Moron Manor and torments Meathead some more.
A big dumb Indian tries to capture Screwy Squirrel.
Screwy skips school and wreaks havoc on the truant officer.
Wolf tries to kill Droopy, but Red quickly draws his attention.
A clever turkey eludes the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.
Wolf has eyes for Red, but someone has eyes for Wolf.
Once again, Wolf tries to kidnap Red but Droopy is in the way.
Screwy is adopted by Lenny the big dumb dog. This is the last Screwy Squirrel cartoon.
A dumb cluck rooster tries to prevent a suave rooster from stealing the chicken of his dreams.
Droopy is once again in hot pursuit of escaped felon Wolf. If bug-eyed double takes is your thing, this is the only cartoon you will need to see.
A hungry George & Junior try to catch some chickens.
George & Junior, the blundering duo, become dog catchers.
George & Junior battle a pesky little flame.
The truth about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This is the first one of them Hollywood cartoon companies ever got the straight dope on this Uncle Tom stuff.
The biggest, baddest lion in the jungle is put in his place by a mouse.
A hungry cat starts a Jumbo-Gro feeding frenzy that goes awry.
Homer falls in love with a female flea who lives on the back of a bulldog.
A little skunk will try anything to find a girlfriend.
A pesky little duck is too much for these two hunting dogs to handle.
George & Junior hunt for the world’s smallest pygmy so they can claim the $10,000 reward.
A cat that is fed up with people goes to the moon only to find out that people aren’t so bad after all.
A kitten enlists the aid of a black cat who causes things like flower pots, safes, and battleships to fall on a bulldog that is tormenting him. This is my very favorite Tex Avery cartoon.
Droopy and Wolf battle it out in a bullfight.
The future home is demonstrated. Man, that sandwich maker rocks!
Speedy is ready to go hunt rabbits, but can he get a good nights sleep so he can get up at 5 in the morning to blast that bunny?
Spike stands to inherit millions of dollars if something should happen to Droopy.
A city wolf tries to show his countrified cousin some culture by introducing him to a real Red Riding Hood.
A clever British fox tries to outwit Droopy.
A cat tries to disguise himself as a dog in order to get to a canary.
A cat confuses a dog by throwing his voice. This one of my all time favorite.
A slightly crazed cat tries to kill the cuckoo in a clock.
Spike is trying to bury his bones with no help from a pesky little gopher.
Droopy and Spike compete for the title of “King of Sports”. Not to mention a kiss from the “Queen of Sports”.
A shoemaker gets a little help from some elves.
Spike is having a little trouble sleeping thanks to a loud-beaked rooster. My favorite.
Droopy and Spike compete to become the Daredevil Dog at a circus.
Droopy and Spike compete for the title of Best Scout, and a chance to meet the President.
Joe is having trouble getting his point across to the keeper of the Pearly Gates.
The future of automobiles is displayed here.
Spike wants a free meal, but Droopy and Drippy have him slightly confused.
The Great Poochini in tormented by a magician who he had earlier rejected. Now this is a classic. If I had to choose a favorite, this would be it.
Dad assumes Junior is going to grow up to be just like him; a taxi cab. But Junior has other ideas.
Spike gets a job house sitting for a high-strung hibernating bear. All he has to do is keep it quiet. If I had to choose a favorite, it would definitely be this one.
A WWII bomber is tired of seeing jets, but changes his mind when his son turns out to be a jet.
The future of television is reviewed here, although there is no mention of Dolby THX.
Snoopy, Loopy, and Droopy try to elude a low-key wolf dog catcher. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be this one.
Droopy and his sheep have to defend themselves against the Wolf and his cattle. This is my favorite by far.
Wolf inherits a very hungry little billy goat goat goat goat. This one is definitely my very favorite.
Droopy must defend his new ranch against Dishonest Dan. My favorite by a long shot.
Check out the farm of the future.
Poly-Itchy, the flea circus clown, will do anything to get attention from FiFi LaFlea.
The story of Dixieland musician John Pettibone and Pee Wee Runt, the horn blowing flea. Together they make it to the Hollywood Bowl. If I have one favorite, it’s this one.
We follow Ed on his fishing and hunting adventure.
The story of the first bank robber and cattle rustler; Dinosaur Dan. If I had to choose one to be my favorite, this would be it.
Droopy must guard the safe from Slim and Shorty.
Spike escapes from prison and ends up in the warden’s TV set. This is my favorite.
Letterboxed remake of Wags to Riches.
Letterboxed remake of Ventriloquist Cat