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screwy

Screwy Squirrel

Screwball "Screwy" Squirrel is a cartoon character, an anthropomorphic squirrel created by Tex Avery for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, generally considered the wackiest of the screwball cartoon characters of the 1940s, who include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Woody Woodpecker.

Among the most intangible and non-standard cartoon characters ever created, Screwy (voiced by Wally Maher) can do almost anything to almost anyone: he pulls objects out of thin air, doubles himself, and constantly breaks the fourth wall; all the while uttering a characteristic cackling laugh. The character was not as successful as Avery's Happy Hound (later Droopy) was at this time, and Screwy was phased out after appearing in only five cartoons between 1944 and 1946.

The character was notable for being brash and erratic, and is considered by some to be annoying with few sympathic personality characteristics such as Bugs Bunny's nobility or Daffy Duck's pathos. Most of his cartoons revolve around him inflicting various forms of torture on his enemy (usually Meathead Dog, played by Dick Nelson) for seven minutes. In one cartoon, Screwy hits a dog across the head with everything he can find in a trunk labeled "Assorted Swell Stuff to Hit Dog on Head". When he finishes, the dog remarks, "Gee whiz! He hit me with everything but the kitchen sink!" Screwy, producing a kitchen sink and knocking the dog over the head with it, responds "Well, I don't want to disappoint ya, chum!"

The final cartoon in the series, ended with a joking reference to indicate that Screwy had been crushed by his antagonist, who commented "I had a little friend once, but he don't move no more." Avery never used the character again during his lifetime.

Hanna-Barbera Cartoons resurrected Screwy for the Droopy: Master Detective Saturday morning cartoon on Fox Kids in 1993-1994. The Tex Avery originals have been frequently seen on Turner Broadcasting System-run networks such as the Cartoon Network and Boomerang (Turner, now a subsidiary of Time-Warner, has owned the rights to Screwball Squirrel since founder Ted Turner bought the MGM/UA film library in 1986). On April Fools' Day, 1997, Cartoon Network ran the 1944 Screwy Squirrel cartoon Happy-Go-Nutty repeatedly from 6 AM to 6 PM, as part of an April Fool's Joke that the cartoon character had taken over the network.

In 1993, Screwy was used as a template for Slappy Squirrel on Animaniacs, as a female version of the character who had aged 50 years and become a miserly and cranky character. This was before Time-Warner bought out Turner and did not yet own the rights to the character, forcing the producers to disguise him.

As of 2005, Screwy appears as one of the characters in idents for the Boomerang TV channel.

Screwy Squirrel is mentioned in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Classic-era Screwy Squirrel cartoons

  • 1944: Screwball Squirrel
  • 1944: Happy-Go-Nutty
  • 1944: Big Heel-Watha
  • 1945: The Screwy Truant
  • 1946: Lonesome Lenny

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