Dastardly & Muttley
Muttley as seen in Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
|Created by||Iwao Takamoto|
|Portrayed by||Don Messick, Billy West|
Muttley, a mixed breed dog, first appeared in Wacky Races in 1968, as the sidekick of a nasty but incompetent and horribly accident-prone villain Dick Dastardly. While Dick was created as the equivalent of Professor Fate from the 1960s movie The Great Race, Muttley mirrored the film’s character of Max Meen. Dick and Muttley were paired together in various later Hanna-Barbera series as bumbling villains. Muttley’s birthday is April 16th, as shown in the Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines episode “Sappy Birthday.”
Muttley does not really talk; his main examples of speech are his trademark snicker – a wheezing, smokers laugh (usually made at Dick’s expense) – and a mushy, sotto voce grumble against an unsympathetic or harsh Dick (usually along the lines of “Sassafrassarassum Rick Rastardly!”). Don Messick had used Muttley’s distinctive laugh for the character of Griswold in an episode of Top Cat as well as for another Hanna-Barbera canine, Precious Pupp, several years earlier. He also repurposed it for Alexandra Cabot’s cat Sebastian on Josie and the Pussycats in 1970.
Muttley wore only a collar in Wacky Races, but in Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines he donned a World War I style aviator’s cap and scarf, and served as a flying ace along with Dastardly and two other pilots as members of the “Vulture Squadron.” In this spinoff, he also sported many medals, of which he was particularly fond, and constantly demanded new ones from Dastardly for following his commands. Similarly, Dastardly frequently ripped medals off Muttley’s chest as punishment for his incompetence. When he received a new medal, Muttley would hug himself happily, jump into the air and float back down like a feather. This gag is almost identical to the behavior of Snuffles, a dog who appeared on the series Quick Draw McGraw in the late 1950s; and Scooby Doo, in the show A Pup Named Scooby Doo, when he received a Scooby Snack.
Also in Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines, Muttley gained the ability to fly for a brief period by spinning his tail like a propeller. This trait often proved useful when he was about to crash. Muttley also enjoyed his own short segment in this series The Magnificent Muttley, where he would engage in Walter Mitty-style fantasies.
Often, when Muttley grumbled on Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines, Dick Dastardly would say “What was THAT?” accompanied by Muttley kissing his hand, to which Dastardly would usually reply “That’s better”.
Muttley vs. Mumbly
Muttley is sometimes confused with Mumbly, a crime-fighting dog who tracked down criminals using his dog senses and drove around in an old beat-up car. Mumbly looked similar to Muttley and had a similar laugh, but Mumbly had grey fur and wore a trenchcoat. Ironically, Mumbly later showed up as the captain of the villainous Really Rottens in Laff-a-Lympics along with his accomplice, “The Dread Baron” (a reference to The Red Baron) who happens to resemble Dick Dastardly. Both characters (The Dread Baron and Mumbly) later appeared in the TV movie Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose. It is not certain why Mumbly was retconned as a villain. Neither is it certain why he and Dread Baron were apparently used as substitutes for Dastardly and Muttley, especially in the Yogi Bear movie where Paul Winchell voiced the Baron instead of Dastardly (and in the scene where the Baron’s crashed plane is shown, it’s Dick’s plane from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, complete with the “D” on the side). The reason most suggested is that the Wacky Races characters (including Dastardly and Muttley) were not fully owned by Hanna-Barbera as the show was a co-producti
on with Heatter-Quigley Productions.
An early version of the Muttley/Mumbly character appears in the 1964 Hanna-Barbera feature film Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!. This prototype Muttley (“Mugger”) is a mean-spirited dog with a travelling circus who has a penchant for biting his owners on the leg. The character may also have been inspired by the Atom Ant show’s “Precious Pupp” who was known for laughing the same way. Muttley and his master returned in the Wacky Races video game with Billy West voicing the dog.
Muttley e Dastardly
- Muttley and Dick Dastardly also starred as the villains in Yogi’s Treasure Hunt in their submarine the SS. Dirty Tricks.
- In the “Fender Bender 500” segment of Wake, Rattle, and Roll, he and Dick Dastardly are paired up like they were in the “Wacky Races.”
- Muttley (alongside Dick Dastardly) appeared as a teenager in Yo Yogi!
- In the Duck Dodgers episode “MMORPD,” one of the forms that Duck Dodgers turns himself into is Muttley. In this brief appearance, Muttley’s vocal effects are done by Joe Alaskey.
- Muttley has made at least one brief appearance in Dynomutt.
- Muttley makes an appearance at the end of almost every video in the LiveVideo series “Godawful Games”