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Quick Draw McGraw

Before new technology led to a multitude of cable channels and streaming movies, children growing up in the late 1950s enjoyed simpler pleasures. For many, entertainment meant watching the cartoons, or cheering with the cowboy movies at the cinema on a Saturday morning.

It's no surprise that one kids' show that combined animation with the Wild West has gone down in history as being a cult cartoon. Of course, we're talking about Quick Draw McGraw! A caricature horse who has all the attributes of a cowboy, he can be found fighting the villains in the Old West.

Quick Draw McGraw Plot and characters

The taking horse walks upright on two legs and wears a cowboy hat and bandana, with a bullet belt slung round his hips. His character is the sheriff in a Wild West town and he fights crime with his sidekick, a small donkey known as a burro, called Baba Looey.

Another regular character is Snuffles, his bloodhound dog, who is often found demanding biscuits and leaping up into the air in unbridled joy when he eats one. He prefers biscuits as a reward for capturing outlaws, so when Quick Draw McGraw gives him the cash instead, he mutters, "Darn cheapskate!"

The funny thing about the show, was that even though the lead character was a horse who walked upright and could carry a revolver in his hoof, the writers depicted him riding along on a realistic-looking horse or driving a horse-drawn stagecoach!

Charles Dawson Butler, an Ohio-born actor who specialised in providing the voices for animated films, voiced both Quick Draw and Baba Looey. Calling himself Daws Butler, he worked mainly for the Hanna-Barbera studio which produced Quick Draw McGraw.

During his 53-year career in entertainment, Butler also voiced other popular animated characters, such as Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and Elroy Jetson.

 

Origins

Quick Draw McGraw was created in the late 1950s by Michael Maltese - a writer who was best-known for his work at Warner Bros cartoon studio - and famous American animators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It was part of a genre known as anthropomorphism, in which animals were given human traits, characteristics and emotions.

In the mid-1950s, television was just beginning to grow in popularity in American homes. A few dozen television operators had applied for licences by the end of the 1940s and by the mid-1950s, statistics showed around 50% of all US households had a TV set.

By the time the first episode of Quick Draw McGraw was broadcast in 1959, many households had a television set, although the majority could afford only black and white, as colour was a premium feature in the early days.

Quick Draw McGraw was filmed in colour and by the 1960s, when more households were buying colour sets, they could better appreciate the cartoons. The original series of Quick Draw McGraw was broadcast from 1959 to 1962, wining an EMMY award for Outstanding Children's Programme in 1960.

The original series aired 45 episodes, in which Quick Draw and his trusty sidekicks apprehended the bad guys in a series of many Wild West adventures, while creating their own brand of chaos.

 


Series finale

The final episode, The Mark Of El Kabong, saw Quick Draw assume the identity of his alter ego, El Kabong, who was a masked vigilante who was a spoof of Zorro. The series finale saw our hero pit his wits against the despicable villains, but unfortunately causing more mayhem than he was solving, thanks to his clumsiness.

El Kabong is asked why he hides behind a mask and he replies, it's because nobody takes his face seriously. During the episode, he accidentally breaks seductive songstress Rita's guitar over someone's head, which he describes as an "occupational hazard of being a masked hero"!

It was described as one of the funniest episodes ever made, with some hilarious dialogue and a humorous plot twist at the end. El Kabong causes such chaos in his efforts to apprehend the bad guys that the villagers whom he's trying to save decide to tell him not to bother, as he's causing more trouble than the outlaws!

 

Spin-offs

After the original series ended in 1962, Quick Draw McGraw appeared in a number of spin-offs and made guest appearances in other shows. The talking horse appeared in Yogi's Gang in 1973, the Laff-a-Lympics (also featuring Fred Flintstone) in 1977 and 1978, the Hanna-Barbera All-Star Comedy Ice Revue in 1978 and Casper's First Christmas in 1979.

The horse was voiced by the original voice actor Daws Butler in every show, until the actor's death at the age of 71 in 1988.

Quick Draw continued to appear on TV in a series of commercials for the American cartoon network channel Boomerang and in the 1990s featured in Wake, Rattle, and Roll - a cartoon in which he drove a monster truck known as the Texas Twister. He was also the mascot for Sugar Smacks cereal and appeared in a MetLife commercial in 2012.

After Butler's death, Canadian voice actor and a former stand-up comedian Maurice LaMarche voiced Quick Draw. The talking horse has continued to make guest appearances in various animated television shows to the present day including South Park, Class of 3000, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law and Johnny Bravo.

The name El Kabong has even made it into modern-day wrestling, with commentator Joey Styles using it to describe the ECW wrestler, New Jack.

Quick Draw merchandise has included an action figure produced by McFarlane Toys as part of their Hanna-Barbera range and a video game produced by Hi-Tec Software in 1991.

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