Tasmanian Devil (Looney Tunes)


Tasmanian Devil (Looney Tunes)

WBToonChar
name =Taz (Tasmanian Devil)


image caption =Taz as depicted today.
first appearance ="1954", "Devil May Hare"
created by =Robert McKimson
voiced by =Mel Blanc (classic shorts), Jim Cummings ("Tiny Toons", "Taz-Mania", current and "Duck Dodgers"), Dee Bradley Baker ("Space Jam"), Brendan Fraser ("")
known aliases =
known relatives =Hugh Tazmanian Devil (father), Jean Tazmanian Devil (mother), Molly Tazmanian Devil (sister), Jake Tazmanian Devil (brother), Drew (uncle), the She-Devil (wife), Slam Tasmanian (descendant)
known pets =Dog the Turtle
known friends =Buddy Boar, Wendell T. Wolf, Digeri Dingo, Daniel and Timothy Platypus, Bushwhacker Bob, Mr. Thickley, Constance, Dizzy Devil (student)
known rivals = Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Bull and Axle Gator, Francis X. Bushlad
catchphrases = Random Gibbersish, blowing raspberries and sputtring
The Tasmanian Devil, often referred to as "Taz", is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. "Looney Tunes" series of cartoons. The character appeared in only five shorts before Warner Bros Animation closed down in 1963, but marketing and television appearances later propelled the character to new popularity in the 1990s. Today Taz is one of the most recognizable members of the "Looney Tunes" roster.

Creation and first appearance

Robert McKimson based the character on the real-life Tasmanian Devil. The most noticeable resemblance between the Australian marsupial and McKimson's creation is their ravenous appetites and crazed behavior. Although the Tasmanian Devil's appearance does not exactly resemble the real marsupial, it instead contains multilayered references to other "devils"; he has horn-shaped fur on his head (similar to the Devil's appearance) and whirls about like a dust devil (similar in appearance to a tornado) which sounds like several motors whirring in unison. Taz is constantly hungry and devours everything, animate or inanimate. His efforts to find more food are always a central plot device of his cartoons.

In fact, this appetite serves as the impetus for McKimson's "Devil May Hare" (first released on June 19, 1954). In the short, the Devil stalks Bugs Bunny, but due to his dim wits and inability to frame complete sentences, he serves as little more than a nuisance. Bugs eventually gets rid of him in the most logical way possible: matching him up with an equally insatiable female Devil. The character's speech, peppered with growls, screeches, and raspberries, is provided by Mel Blanc. Only occasionally would Taz actually speak, usually to utter some incongruous punchline, (eg. "What for you bury me in the cold, cold ground?")

After the short entered theaters, producer Edward Selzer, head of the Warner Bros. animation studio, ordered McKimson to shelve the character since it was "too obnoxious". After a time with no new Devil shorts, however, Jack Warner asked what had happened. He then saved Taz's career when he told Selzer that he had received "boxes and boxes" of letters from people who liked the character.

Later shorts

McKimson would go on to direct four more Tasmanian Devil cartoons, beginning with "Bedeviled Rabbit" (released on April 13, 1957). The she-devil returns in this cartoon, now as Mrs. Tasmanian Devil, but Taz's romantic feelings for her prove to be his Achilles heel when Bugs uses a sexy female-devil costume to deliver some explosives to him. McKimson would also pair the Devil with Daffy Duck in "Ducking the Devil" (August 17, 1957) before pitting him once again against Bugs in "Bill of Hare" (June 9, 1962) and "Dr. Devil and Mr. Hare" (March 28, 1964). His final appearance done by the classic Warner Brothers directors, writers, and voice actors was in "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales" appearing in "The Fright Before Christmas" segment and at the very end eating the sleigh full of presents.

Marketing and later years

After Warner Bros. closed its animation studio in 1964, the Tasmanian Devil would remain a nostalgic favorite for many filmgoers. The character also gained new fans when the "Looney Tunes" shorts entered television syndication. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Warner Bros. marketers seized upon this, and through their efforts, catapulted the character, now dubbed "Taz", to even greater popularity. Today, Taz is one of the most recognizable "Looney Tunes" stars, and his image appears on more merchandise than many more prolific Warners characters such as Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd.

This late-blossoming popularity would pay off for Taz in Warner Bros. television animation. For example, his miniature understudy, Dizzy Devil, is a recurring character in the Fox TV series, "Tiny Toon Adventures", which had its debut September 14, 1990. Then on September 7, 1991, Taz got his own show, "Taz-mania", which ran for three seasons on Fox. The show recasts the Devil as a dim-witted teenager (voiced by Jim Cummings) who lives in a warped 1950s-era sitcom household. Taz now has an angsty teen sister, a rambunctious little brother, a June Cleaver-esque mother, and a nonchalant father (based on Bing Crosby). In the 1996 film "Space Jam", Taz was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.

Taz also made a cameo in 1995's "The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries", in the second season's "The Scare Up There" (November 2, 1996).

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Taz was used extensively in Chevrolet Monte Carlo advertisements featuring the late Dale Earnhardt, intended to show the dual nature of the personal sports coupe. The ads used the tagline - "The side you show the world is up to you."

On September 7, 2002, an infant version of Taz appeared as one of the regulars of the "Baby Looney Tunes" series. The infant version of him was voiced by Ian James Corlett. Most recently, he has had guest spots in "" (2003) (where he was voiced by the main actor in the movie, Brendan Fraser) as part of the ACME team and two episodes of "Duck Dodgers". In addition, the "Histeria!" portrayal of Attila the Hun is directly based on Taz.

The character of Slam Tasmanian on "Loonatics Unleashed", voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, is portrayed as a descendent of Taz. His surname is unique among Warner Bros Tasmanian Devil characters, who generally adopt the "Devil" part of Taz's name.

A brief clip from a Taz cartoon appeared prior to the opening credits of the movie "Twister". The clip was also seen on the VHS release of the movie, but it was cut out when the DVD was released.

Relationship with the Tasmanian Government

After much lobbying from the Tasmanian state government in Australia, Warner Bros. decided to assist the fight against extinction of the Tasmanian Devil due to Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Tasmanian Environment Minister Judy Jackson, prior to the company's support, heavily criticised Warner Bros., stating that the company had made millions of dollars from the character, but did not put up any money when other companies had.

The deal with Warner Bros. allows the Tasmanian Government to manufacture and sell up to 5000 special edition Taz plush toys with all profit going towards funding scientific research into the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.cite news |url=http://www.tourismtasmania.com.au/media/pr/2006/pr20060621.htm |title=Taz Lends a Hand to his Devil Mates |work=Tourism Tasmania |accessdate=2006-08-14 |date=2006-06-21] cite news |url=http://www.news.com.au/mercury/story/0,22884,19526050-3462,00.html |title=Warner joins the Fight |work=The Mercury |date=2006-06-20 |accessdate=2006-08-14] The deal also aims to increase public attention towards the threatening disease.

The Tasmanian Government and Warner Bros. have previously disputed the government's right to use the character as a tourism promotion, which Warner Bros. offered if they paid for it. The government refused this offer.Fact|date=February 2007

References

*Adamson, Joe (1990). "50 Years and Only One Grey Hare". New York: Henry Holt & Co.
*Schneider, Steve (1988, 1989). "That's All Folks!: The Art of Warner Bros. Animation". New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Notes

External links

* [http://looneytunes.warnerbros.com/stars_of_the_show/tasmanian_devil/taz_story.html WarnerBros.com]
* [http://www.toonopedia.com/taz1.htm Toonopedia: Tasmanian Devil]
* [http://www.tazworld.co.uk/ TazWorld]


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