It’s Woody Woodpecker!

Do you remember Woody Woodpecker?
He came to life in 1940, created by Walter Lantz and his studio after a sleepless night in the California woods on his honeymoon where a woodpecker insisted on hammering away on the cabin’s roof for most of the night.
The next night a heavy rain revealed the holes the rascal had produced and Lantz wanted to do the crazy bird in, but his wife convinced him to make a cartoon of him.
Though Woody started out as an acorn woodpecker, he morphed into a woodpecker of the pileated variety with his large crest of red feathers and big voice.
Woody’s original voice was provided by Mel Blanc who also gave sound to the likes of two big stars, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. Blanc used a voice quite similar to what he used for Daffy minus the lisp, but Woody had many others create his voice when soon after Woody’s creation Blanc moved to Warner Brothers with an exclusive contract; Mel’s voice became Warner Brothers’ property.
Woody first came to television in 1957 and was part of my Saturday morning cartoon watching. The Woody Woodpecker theme song created in 1947 became the biggest hit single of 1948 and actually was nominated for an Academy award for Best Original Song.
Woody evolved from a bird of questionable sanity to one of mere mischief over the years of radio and before he appeared on television. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and made a cameo appearance in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which seems deliciously funny to me.
I like to pretend Woody and his pals live in the forest that surrounds me, their distinct voices clear and jungle-like and frequent.
After Hurricane Dorian blew through and snapped off a selection of spruce trees, the woodpeckers were having a hay-day.
As I walked along the path through the forest, one such spruce tree had a gathering of pileated woodpeckers hammering away on it, so intent on their fresh find of bugs they didn’t notice my approach and I was able to stand beside them, almost close enough to touch as they hammered and hopped and hammered some more, oblivious to the calls of warning from the other woodpecker standing watch a few trees over.
After they discovered me and flew away to a safe distance, I assured them I was merely a spectator and had no plans for pileated pie, but they were skeptical and I suppose I don’t blame them in light of what we do to this planet and to the animals that are obligated to share the space with us.
Woody was Walter Lantz’s best known creation and Woody has endured, having been in a film as recently as 2017.
I once had a lunch box adorned with Woody’s picture and name.
Though it wasn’t as good as Mighty Mouse, it did come in a close second.
Woody didn’t come to save the day, but he certainly had a great laugh.
wendistewart@live.ca