Mr. Magoo turns 60

Funny, he seems a bit older than that.

Oh, the wonderful press releases we get here at the Phoenix. Like this one: "The hilarious Mr. Magoo proves that with a little confidence everything will eventually go your way. Join Mr. Magoo in celebrating his 60th anniversary tomorrow, September 29th! We invite you to write about this special occasion."

How can I resist?

I've always had a particular fondness for nutty ol' near-sighted Quincy Magoo. (Not this one, though.) Jim Backus's voice -- be it as Mr. Magoo or Thurston Howell III -- always brings back Froot Looped memories of camping out to watch WLVI and WSBK at Nana's house in Framingham. Y'know, back when there was such a thing as Saturday morning cartoons.

But I had no idea that the doddering old man was initially envisioned as more of an curmudgeonly Archie Bunker type.

From Wikipedia:

"Mr. Magoo's first appearance was in the theatrical short cartoon The Ragtime Bear (1949), scripted by Millard Kaufman. His creation was a collaborative effort; animation director John Hubley is said to have partly based the character on his uncle Harry Woodruff, and W. C. Fields was another source of inspiration.... The Magoo character was originally conceived as a mean-spirited McCarthy-like reactionary whose mumbling would include as much outrageous misanthropic ranting as the animators could get away with. Kaufman had actually been blacklisted, and Magoo was a form of protest. Hubley was an ex-communist who had participated in the 1941 strike. Both he and Kaufman had participated in the blacklist front and perhaps due to the risk of coming under more scrutiny with a hit character, John Hubley, who had created Magoo, handed the series completely over to creative director, Pete Burness. Under Burness, Magoo would win two Oscars for the studio with When Magoo Flew (1955) and Magoo's Puddle Jumper (1956). Burness scrubbed Magoo of his politicized mean-ness and left only a few strange unempathic comments that made him appear senile or somewhat mad. This however was not entirely out of line with the way McCarthy came to be perceived over that same era."

Who knew?

Of course, Mr. Magoo wasn't really a kids' cartoon character. That's why he advertised beer.

And, for that matter, why the Flintstones hawked cigarettes.



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