Muttley is a fictional character originally voiced by Don Messick. In the 2000 Wacky Races videogame, he was voiced by Billy West. The character is known best for his mischievous, wheezing laughter.
Muttley first appeared in Wacky Races in 1968, as the sidekick of the 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. As his name implies, Muttley is a mixed breed dog, identified in the Wacky Races segment "Dash to Delaware" as a mix of bloodhound, pointer, Airedale, and hunting dog. During Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, in the part of Sappy Birthday, Muttley shows a calendar where 16th April is marked; his birthday.
Muttley does not really talk; his main examples of speech are his trademark "wheezy snicker" (usually at Dick's expense) and a mushy, sotto voce grumble against an unsympathetic or harsh Dick (usually along the lines of "Rashin' fashin' Rick Rastardly!"). Don Messick had previously used Muttley's distinctive laugh for the character of Griswold in an episode of Top Cat, then for an embryonic version of Muttley (called 'Mugger') appearing in the 1964 movie Hey There, It's Yogi Bear, as well as for another Hanna-Barbera canine, Precious Pupp, in 1966. He also repurposed it for Alexandra Cabot's cat Sebastian on Josie and the Pussycats in 1970.
Muttley (who turned from a "bluish hue" to a "dusty brown") 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 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.
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. Muttley also enjoyed his own short segment in the series The Magnificent Muttley, where he would engage in Walter Mitty-style fantasies.
Muttley vs. Mumbly
Muttley is sometimes confused with the crime-fighting dog Mumbly from The Mumbly Cartoon Show. Mumbly looked similar to Muttley. They had a similar laugh. But, their ears were different and Mumbly had blue fur and wore a trenchcoat. Mumbly later showed up as the captain of the villainous Really Rottens in Laff-a-Lympics along with his accomplice, "The Dread Baron," who resembles Dick Dastardly. 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 is Dick's plane from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, complete with the "D" on the side). In that story, Mumbly had once utilized his tail to fly just like Muttley does in Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. 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-production 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.
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