Beaky Buzzard was retired to honor original voice actor

There's a reason why Beaky Buzzard doesn't appear in more early cartoons, despite his popularity.

Image: Warner Bros.

Beaky Buzzard has recently been revived in modern Looney Tunes cartoons, but back in the 1940s when he first appeared, his cartoons were intentionally limited to honor the original voice actor behind the young turkey vulture.

Kent Rogers provided the original voice for Beaky Buzzard before the turkey vulture was even called by that name.

Originally, Beaky Buzzard was called Killer in the 1942 short "Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid."

The next time we saw Beaky Buzzard was in a short released in 1945 called "The Bashful Buzzard." This is the cartoon that gave the turkey vulture his now-familiar name.

Between these two shorts, however, Rogers was tragically killed during a training flight while he was serving as an ensign in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Rogers had already recorded some of Beaky's dialog for "The Bashful Buzzard," and comedian-musician Stan Freberg filled in the rest.

After that, Mel Blanc took over as the voice of Beaky Buzzard officially in the 1950 cartoons "The Lion's Busy" and "Strife With Father."

These were the only appearances of Beaky Buzzard in early Looney Tunes cartoons, the "classic era," and though some cartoon experts maintain that the turkey vulture's popularity fizzled out, it's also been reported that the character was intentionally limited after Rogers' death.

In Rogers' career, he voiced cartoons that aired from 1941 to 1946, including a stint as Woody Woodpecker and once voicing Horton the Elephant. Back in the world of Looney Tunes, he also originated the voice of Henery Hawk.

But Beaky Buzzard, despite his limited appearances, might be Rogers' best-remembered work.

In the 2014 book Cartoon Carnival, author Michael Samerdyke wrote that "perhaps the most memorable of Bugs Bunny's one-time foes is Beaky Buzzard."

One of Rogers' most astounding vocal feats, though, likely came in the Tex Avery cartoon "Hollywood Steps Out."

At only 18 years old, Rogers voiced a staggering number of celebrity impersonations for the cartoon, including James Cagney, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Peter Lorre, Groucho Marx, Mickey Rooney, James Stewart, J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Fonda, and Bing Crosby — to name a handful.

His tragic loss at the age of 20 stunted what would've been a truly golden voice-acting career, right up there with Mel Blanc.

Do you think Beaky Buzzard is one of the best Bugs Bunny villains?

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mama8915 6 months ago
I love Beaky Buzzard. One of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon.
LalaLucy 9 months ago
Aww. We love Beaky. Also big fans of Hollywood Steps Out. What an interesting backstory.
Dgaby 9 months ago
The ads on Me TV are a bright spot of decent witty promotion in a bleak landscape. Thank you for making the effort.
mdit21 9 months ago
Right up there with Gossamer.

harlow1313 9 months ago
Had I a choice in the matter, I would have preferred to have been born a turkey vulture, to float like a black kite in the blue, blue sky, carrion for as far as the eye can see...

I'd be a gooney old thing that would lead ya ta sing, a hooey a hooey.
JHP 9 months ago
ahhhh yes when TV was truly innocently funny - not this laugh track (someone hitting a play button) after the people say

MOT1970 9 months ago
I'm bringing home a baby bubble bee.
Coldnorth MOT1970 9 months ago
Won’t my mama be so proud of me……..
Runeshaper 9 months ago
Kent Rogers was a very talented man. RIP. Yes, I do think that Beaky Buzzard is one of the best Bugs Bunny villains (-:
LoveMETV22 9 months ago
I like Beaky Buzzard, but also Marvin the Martian, The Tazmanian Devil, The Abominal snowman.
So there were a number of good Bugs Bunny villains aside from the most popular (imo).
JHP LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Tazmanian Devil was my handle in the CB radio days
LoveMETV22 JHP 9 months ago
That's cool.
JHP LoveMETV22 9 months ago
it was 40+ years ago - krako (sp?) mag mount antenna and and a GE CB radio very handy in the winter driving from MKE to MSP
Coldnorth LoveMETV22 9 months ago
Marvin the Martian one of my all time favorites
gmail 9 months ago
Always did like Beaky Buzzard.
Hell I still watch cartoons, Three Stooges, etc. Nothing like a good belly laugh...
gmail 9 months ago
Watched as usual two of the most amazing creators of television, Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock.
Some stories were personally written and they also had great writers who exemplified there idea so well.
Unfortunately there will never be anyone exactly like them ever again. Sure there have been great directors since, some may have tried to even copy but never Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock ever again.
Even though they are gone, there fabulous and sometimes perplexing stories are still interesting to watch, sometimes seeing something different, something in the background or a slight blooper after seeing them for the last 50 years.
Even Earl Hamner was a writer for them.
After 50 years it is still great!
Pax gmail 5 months ago
How about, instead of trying to compare people to previous legends, that you simply allow people to become legends in their own rights? Honestly, the heroic standard is not to worship a person, nor is it to try and imitate a person per se, but, rather, it is to learn what made the person great and then do what they did, and improve upon the foundation of which they had laid for other words, it is to lead by example, as well as to inspire people to become legends in their own right, rather than to lead by imitating a legend.
Deren 9 months ago
Thanks for fun and interesting story. I always thought Beaky was a just a generic vulture and I was happy to learn that Beaky is a Turkey Vulture. Yahoo for Cathartes aura. ~d~ Chief Vulture Wrangler, Auburn, CA.
bagandwallyfan80 9 months ago
Yosemite Sam and ELMER FUDD
-I believe that they appeared
Together One Time Only in a
Bugs Bunny cartoon where there
Was Spoof of This Is Your Life.
bagandwallyfan80 9 months ago
Did the persons in charge at
Looney Tunes ever say that
Were supposed to be the same
Not sure about the persons in charge- As there were many involved in the production of
Looney Tunes, but a recognized animation historian Michael Barrier stated " , "Elmer Fudd was not a modified version of his fellow Warner Bros. character Egghead" and that "the two characters were always distinct". You can view more information on the Wikipedia page on Elmer Fudd @:
teire 9 months ago
Nice story, interesting piece of cartoon history.
Coldnorth teire 9 months ago
I loved looney toons even their theme song
justjeff 9 months ago
I've just learned something new with this article.

While it's well known that Mel Blanc had an exclusive contract that guaranteed he was the only credited voice for WB cartoons [which excluded screen credits for June Foray, Sara Berner, Janet Waldo, Arthur Q. Bryan, Stan Freberg, Kent Rogers, etc.] I'd actually not know that Rogers had voiced Beaky Buzzard - I thought for sure it was Mel Blanc.

However, I needed to remember that Blanc once pointed out that he'd never imitate a voice, but rather do his own take on a character (ie: Barney Rubble was Blanc's take on the Art Carney-ish character, and NOT a Carney impression... nor was Foghorn Leghorn a direct copy of Kenny Delmar's "Senator Beauregard Claghorn" from the "Allen's Alley" segment of the Fred Allen radio show).

That said, Beaky Buzzard does sound like an almost spot-on imitation of Mortimer Snerd, Edgar Bergen's "country bumpkin" ventrilquist's dummy...
justjeff justjeff 9 months ago
I neglected to mention Bea Benadaret as part of the unsung voices of WB cartoons... By the way, here's an image of Kent Rogers. He was a good looking kid...
Barry22 justjeff 9 months ago
Always wondered about that, but never bothered to look it up. I guess he had his reasons, but it sounds petty.
justjeff Barry22 9 months ago
Actually it wasn't petty... he had such a diverse roster of voices that (if memory serves me correct) he negotiated that perk because he could not get the salary he wanted out of Leon Schlesinger [who ran the WB animation department at that time]...
Coldnorth justjeff 9 months ago
He kinda looks like potsie webber
harlow1313 9 months ago
That buzzard is my favorite cartoon character. Big Adam's apple, weak chin, sparse punk prongs. That buzzard's headshot would be a twin for my own. Separated at birth.

"My momma done tol' me"
"a buzzard is two-faced..."
justjeff harlow1313 9 months ago
Awww... come on... one of you doesn't look *that* bad... right, Beaky?
Sway harlow1313 9 months ago
You are a charmer
Catman harlow1313 9 months ago
I am so ugly that guys in my unit got hazardous duty pay for working with me.
Pax Catman 5 months ago
I got one are so ugly that they have to censor you out on the radio!
Catman Pax 5 months ago
The old joke is "He has a face made for radio."
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