The Secret Origin of Foghorn Leghorn

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Animation historian/author and voice actor Keith Scott, a foremost authority on Jay Ward, old-time radio and cartoon voice actors, has published an article on the origin of Foghorn Leghorn that is a must read. The common story of how Foggy’s characterization was based on Kenny Delmar’s radio character Senator Claghorn is only half true. Keith has finally cleared up the published misinformation which was mainly propagated by the animators themselves, including Bob McKimson, Chuck Jones and, in particular, Mel Blanc. Keith has allowed me to post the article online, and you can read it here.
apatoonscov.jpgThe article is an excerpt from Keith’s ‘zine, (cleverly titled Eh… confidentially, Doc – I AM A WABBIT!!!), published in the current edition of Apatoons (#150, April-May 2008). Apatoons is a long running amateur press association publication, a private mailing for members only. If you are interested in joining the apa, or buying a sample issue, check its website for more information.


  • Andy

    I say, I say that’s a TREAT, son! Educational even!

    Interesting that Blanc took Delmar’s character and made it iconic. It conveys the acting difference between the extremely talented (Delmar) and the amazingly brilliant (Blanc).

  • http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/ Andrea Ippoliti

    Great article,
    any news on Scott’s book about voice actors’ credits in classic cartoons?

  • Christopher Cook

    Nice article. Of course, Kenny Delmar himself would be a cartoon voice later on, that as the voice of The Hunter on “King Leonardo & His Short Subjects.” He’d be in full Claghorn bluster doing that voice.

  • http://awprunes.wordpress.com/ Larry Levine

    Great article but it doesn’t mention anything about the origins of Barnyard Dawg–was their antagonistic relationship based on anything?

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Thanks for posting it Jerry, and many thanks to Keith for doing all of that research! I enjoyed that piece, and am glad that others will get the chance to do so as well.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    I just love getting “gossipp” decades old!! Who’d a thunk that this was formulated beFORE Sen. Claghorn (by only months!) Amaaazing!!

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    I always thought his secret origin happened when Coop Chickman was bitten by that radioactive rooster. This sounds much more plausible.

  • Kevin Martinez

    That’s a VERY eye-opening find if I’ve ever seen one. One, that is.
    Interesting how an oscure inflence on a cartoon can be so forgotten and be unearthed several decades later.

    Delmar did voices on Tenesee Tuxedo as well (The Yak and the Eagle. Don’t know is any Claghorn rubbed off on him). And isn’t the senator in Rebel Rabbit (McKimson, 1949) also Claghorn-influenced?

    Is the Apatoons cover with Lulu decorating the cake the cover of the issue the Foghorn story is in? and is that an actual Famous drawing

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    Kevin – No that isn’t the cover of the current issue. Please check the Apatoons website for more information on obtaining issues or becoming a member.

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    The original KING LEONARDO show of the early 1960′s featured a segment called THE HUNTER, about a loud, southern bloodhound who worked as a detective. He would constantly talk over his more intelligent nephew ‘Horace’ and generally acted and sounded like Foghorn Leghorn. Even as a kid I wondered why there were two separate characters with basically the same voice, (although it clearly wasn’t Mel Blanc). Does anyone know if THE HUNTER was based on the original ‘The Sheriff” character?

  • Jim Meadows

    A quick visit to imdb.com answers Will Finn’s question. The voice of “The Hunter” on the King Leonardo tv show (and later on Underdog) was Kenny Delmar, the voice of Senator Claghorn.

  • http://classicshowbiz.blogspot.com Kliph

    You can view the Senator Claghorn film, It’s A Joke Son, mentioned in the article at archive.org:

    http://www.archive.org/details/its_a_joke_son

  • http://willfinn.blogspot.com/ Will Finn

    Thanks Jim. i didn’t know IMDb covered TV shows!

  • Rookie

    My favorite Foghorn quote…”There’s something kind of Yeeee about a boy who don’t play baseball!”
    Find more at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Foghorn_Leghorn

  • steve w.

    I was a college student at University of Virginia in the mid-1970s when I met Mel Blanc, an idol for all of us who love Looney Tunes. He was doing a speaking tour on the college-circuit, and I got the plum job of picking him up at the airport. Imagine my chagrin, when he launched into telling all these bogus stories about how he created his characters. For Foghorn, he claimed he was in Kentucky and heard a tobacco auctioneer talking that way. I wanted to ask him about Sen. Claghorn, but thought I’d better keep my mouth shut. I guess Mel thought he could pull a fast one on us dumb college students, who were too young to remember radio. Blanc told similarly phony stories for the creation of Porky Pig’s stutter and the Road-Runner’s beep-beep. Plus, he didn’t have one gracious word to say about Daws Butler. Was I ever disillusioned!

  • http://saturdayamcartoons.blogspot.com/ Mat

    Keith’s written a very nice, informative article. Thanks for posting it Jerry.