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.
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?