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Don Messick

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Don Messick

Don Messick (September 7, 1926 - October 24, 1997) was an American voice actor best known for his work for Hanna-Barbera which included the voices of: Scooby-Doo on Scooby-Doo Where Are You!, Bamm-Bamm Rubble on The Flintstones, Astro the Dog on The Jetsons, Papa Smurf on The Smurfs, and Dr. Benton Quest on Jonny Quest.

Early Career

Messick's big break came in the mid-1940s. At MGM, Tex Avery was producing the Droopy cartoons. The regular voice actor, Bill Thompson, was not available. Daws Butler, who voiced characters for MGM, suggested that Avery seek out Messick, and so, he was hired to voice Droopy. Messick and Butler became a voice acting team for the Hanna-Barbera unit in 1957 with the arrival of Ruff and Reddy. Don was Ruff the cat and the Droopy-sounding Professor Gizmo. Butler was the southern-speaking dog, Reddy. Messick also narrated the show, which played out like an animated soap opera.

Beginning in September,1958, Messick played Tadpole in the animated television series produced by Beverly Hills Productions, Spunky and Tadpole. From 1957-1965, Butler and Messick gave voice to a large number of characters. Always the sidekick, Messick’s characters were not headliners. His notable roles in this era were Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, Major Minor, Pixie Mouse, Astro and Muttley. Messick was used primarily for his narration skills, which were heard on many of those cartoons in which Daws Butler starred. In narrating the Yogi Bear cartoons, he also voiced Ranger Smith in something close to his natural voice. Messick would eventually star as Ricochet Rabbit in Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-long (1964–65), while Deputy Droop-a-Long, was voiced by Mel Blanc. In outer space cartoons, Messick created noises and sounds for weird space creatures and aliens. His Ranger Smith voice was often heard as various space villains. His narrator voice was given to Vapor Man, Dr. Benton Quest, The Perilous Paper Doll Man, and Multi Man, Hong Kong Phooey (1974) where he was also Spot the cat, a faithful sidekick, and Laff-A-Lympics (1977-79).

Scooby Doo and Later Roles

In 1969, he was cast as the cowardly canine Scooby-Doo on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. He voiced him through all of the various versions of Scooby-Doo: on television in numerous formats from 1969 to 1985, four television films, and a number of commercials as well. In 1970, he voiced Sebastian on Josie and the Pussycats, and reprised the role in its spin-off, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, two years later, as well as voicing the new alien character, Bleep. In 1977, Don Messick lent his vocal talents to several characters in the first cartoon adaptation of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

From 1980 to 1988, Messick voiced Scooby's nephew, Scrappy-Doo, having taken over the role originated by Lennie Weinrib in 1979 and was still voicing Scooby-Doo when A Pup Named Scooby-Doo came along from 1988-1991. He played Papa Smurf on The Smurfs from 1981-1989. He also voiced Ratchet (the Autobot doctor), Gears, and Constructicon Scavenger on The Transformers. In the mid-1980s, new episodes of The Jetsons were produced. Messick returned as Astro, RUDI, Mac and Uniblab, a pesky robot that worked for Mr. Spacely. Messick also starred in the Masters of the Universe Golden Book video as He-Man. In 1985, he voiced Louie and Snichey in The Pound Puppies TV Special. Messick also appeared in an on-camera role on the MTM Enterprises sitcom Duck Factory, playing a cartoon voice artist named Wally Wooster. In one episode, frequent collaborator Frank Welker guest-starred as a rival voice artist angling for his job. In 1988, he had an uncredited role as the Pimp of the Year pageant announcer on I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.

From 1990-1995, he voiced Hamton J. Pig in Amblin's Tiny Toon Adventures and its spin-offs. Around that time, Don Messick also returned as the voice of Droopy for Tom & Jerry Kids and Droopy, Master Detective. Also in the 1995 Freakazoid episode "Toby Danger - Doomsday Bet", Messick played Dr. Vernon Danger, a parody of his own Dr. Benton Quest, in a spoof of Jonny Quest. At a charity speaking engagement in London, shortly before his death, Messick performed many of his characters, except Scooby Doo. He claimed that giving up smoking had robbed him of the rasp in the voice that he needed.

Retirement & Death

In late September 1996, Messick suffered a stroke while recording voices at Hanna Barbera. On October 12, 1996, Messick had a "retirement party" at his favorite Chinese restaurant (Joe Barbera personally sent a limo to Messick and his wife, and the two were chauffeured). Many of his companions and peers during his career who had come to pay tribute to him included Henry Corden, Casey Kasem, Lucille Bliss, Maurice LaMarche, Gregg Berger, Neil Ross, June Foray, Sharon Mack, Greg Burson, Walker Edmiston, Marvin Kaplan, Gary Owens, Howard Morris, Teresa Ganzel, Jean Vander Pyl and Myrtis Martin Butler (Daws' widow).

Messick suffered a second stroke and died on October 24, 1997. He was cremated abd his ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean at the Point Lobos State Reserve.

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