Bird (also known as Tweety Pie or simply Tweety) is a fictional
character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series
of animated cartoons. Tweety's popularity, like that of The Tasmanian
Devil, actually grew in the years following the dissolution of the
Looney Tunes cartoons. Today Tweety is considered, along with Taz and
Bugs Bunny, among the most popular of the Looney Tunes characters,
especially (because of his "cute" appearance and
personality) among girls and young women. Despite widespread
speculation that he was female, Tweety is and has always been a male character.
Bob Clampett created the
character that would become Tweety in the 1942 short A Tale of Two
Kitties, pitting him against two hungry cats named Babbit and
Catstello (based on the famous comedians Abbott and Costello). On the
original model sheet, Tweety was named Orson (which was also the name
of a bird character from an earlier Clampett cartoon Wacky Blackouts).
was originally naked (pink), jowly, and far more aggressive and
saucy, as opposed to the later, more well-known version of him as a
less hot-tempered (but still somewhat ornery) yellow canary. In the
documentary Bugs Bunny: Superstar, animator Clampett stated, in a
sotto voce "aside" to the audience, that Tweety had been
based "on my own naked baby picture". Clampett did three
more shorts with the "naked genius", as a Jimmy Durante-ish
cat once called him in Gruesome Twosome. The last of these, Birdy and
the Beast, finally bestowed the baby bird with his name.
Many of Mel Blanc's
characters are notable for speech impediments. Tweety's most
noticeable is that "s" gets changed to "t" or
"d"; for example, "pussy cat" comes out as
"putty tat" or "puddy tat", and "sweetie
pie" comes out as "tweetie pie", although it is
doubtful he ever actually called himself by that name on-screen.
Aside from this speech challenge, Tweety's voice (and a fair amount
of his attitude) is similar to that of Bugs Bunny.
Clampett began work on a
short that would pit Tweety against a then-unnamed, lisping black and
white cat created by Friz Freleng in 1945. However, Clampett left the
studio before going into full production on the short, and Freleng
took on the project. Freleng toned Tweety down and cutsied him up,
giving him large blue eyes and yellow feathers. Clampett mentions in
Bugs Bunny Superstar that the feathers were added to satisfy censors
who objected to the naked bird. The first short to team Tweety and
the cat, later named Sylvester, was 1947's Tweetie Pie, which won
Warner Bros. its first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
pairing of Sylvester and Tweety was one of the most notable pairings
in animation history. Most of their cartoons followed a standard formula:
The hungry "puddy
tat" wanting to eat the bird, some major obstacle stands in his
way usually Granny or her bulldog Hector (or occationally,
Tweety says his signature
lines ("I tawt I taw a puddy tat!" and "I did, I did
taw a puddy tat!").
Sylvester spending the
entire film using progressively more elaborate schemes or devices to
capture his meal. Of course, each of his tricks fail, either due to
their flaws or, more often than not, because Tweety steers the enemy
cat towards Hector the Bulldog, an indignant Granny (voiced by Bea
Benaderet and later June Foray), or other device (such as off the
ledge of a tall building or steering him into an oncoming train).
In 1951, Mel Blanc (with
Billy May's orchestra) had a hit single with "I Taut I Taw A
Puddy Tat," a song performed in character by Tweety Bird and
Tweety has a small part in
Who Framed Roger Rabbit, by "accidentally" causing Eddie
Valiant (Bob Hoskins) to fall from a pole.
During the 1990s, Tweety
also starred in an animated TV series called The Sylvester and Tweety
Mysteries, in which Granny ran a detective agency with the assistance
of Tweety, Sylvester and Hector. In 2003, a younger version of him
premiered on Baby Looney Tunes. In the TV series Tiny Toon
Adventures, Tweety appeared in several episodes as the mentor of