|First Appearance:||Cat-Tails for Two (1953)|
|Created by:|| Robert McKimson (original)
Friz Freleng/Hawley Pratt (redesign)
|Voiced by:|| Mel Blanc (1953–1989)
Joe Alaskey (commercials, Tiny Toon Adventures, Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor) Eric Goldberg (Looney Tunes: Back In Action) Bob Bergen (Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas) Fred Armisen (The Looney Tunes Show)
|Friends:||Other Mice from Mexico|
|Rivals:||Sylvester the Cat, Daffy Duck|
Speedy Gonzales (also spelled Gonzalez), or Speedy, is an animated caricature of a mouse in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He is portrayed as "The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico" with his major traits being the ability to run extremely fast and speaking with an exaggerated Mexican accent. He usually wears an oversized yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers, and a red kerchief, similar to that of a reveler in the San Fermin festival. To date there have been 46 cartoons made either starring or featuring this character.
Speedy debuted in 1953's Cat-Tails for Two, directed by Robert McKimson. This early Speedy was a meaner, skinnier, rattier-looking creation with a sizable gold front tooth. The cartoon featured him outwitting a smart-and-stupid pair of cats, George and Benny (parodies of George and Lenny), aboard a ship. Later on this original version of Speedy is used as an unnamed background character a couple of times.Though he was created by McKimson,the majority of the cartoons with him were directed by Friz Freling.It would be two years before Friz Freleng and animator Hawley Pratt redesigned the character into his modern incarnation for the 1955 Freleng short, Speedy Gonzales. The cartoon features Sylvester the Cat menacing a group of rats while guarding a cheese factory at the Mexican border. The rats call in the plucky, excessively energetic Speedy to save them, and amid cries of "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! ¡Hepa¡ ¡Hepa! ¡Hepa! Yeehaw!" (Spanish for "Go on! Go on! Up! Up!) courtesy of Mel Blanc, Sylvester soon gets his comeuppance. The cartoon won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).
While Speedy's last name was given as Gonzalez in Cat-Tails (on a printed business card shown in the cartoon), it was of course spelled with an 's' from Speedy Gonzales onward. Today, the earlier spelling is occasionally used by accident.
Freleng and McKimson soon set Sylvester up as Speedy's regular nemesis in a series of cartoons, much in the same way Chuck Jones had paired Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner in his Road Runner cartoons. Sylvester (often called "El Gringo Pussygato" by Speedy) is constantly outsmarted and outrun by the Mouse, causing the cat to suffer all manner of pain and humiliation from mousetraps to accidentally consuming large amounts of hot sauce. Other cartoons pair the mouse with his cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, the "slowest Mouse in all Mexico." Slowpoke regularly gets into all sorts of trouble that often require Speedy to save him—but one cat in Mexicali Schmoes says that as if to compensate for his slowness, "he pack a gun!" In the mid 1960s, Speedy's main nemesis became Daffy Duck.
1999-2002 Cartoon Network ban & Warner Brothers warningsEdit
In 1999, the Cartoon Network ceased to air Speedy Gonzales. In an interview to Fox News on March 28, 2002, Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg commented, "It hasn't been on the air for years because of its ethnic stereotypes." This is widely believed to refer to Speedy's fellow mice, who are all shown as being very slow and lazy, and sometimes even appear intoxicated. This is particularly true of Speedy's cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez, who is exceptionally slow and lazy. Slowpoke is also known to carry a gun.
In Gonzales' Tamales, the town mice instigate a feud between Speedy and Sylvester the Cat because Speedy has been stealing the hearts of all the females. Much of the dialogue between Mexican characters is in English and the small amount of Spanish that peppers the dialogue consists of basic greetings, goodbyes, exclamations, and misplaced references to popular Mexican foods. This criticism prompted Cartoon Network to largely shelve Speedy's films when it gained exclusive rights to broadcast them in 1999. However, fan campaigns to put Speedy back on the air and lobbying by the League of United Latin American Citizens saw the shorts return to air from 2002. Despite the controversy in the USA, Speedy Gonzales remains a very popular character in Latin America. In Mexico, the Speedy Gonzales show has been on and off part of the regular programing of Televisa's Canal 5 national channel ever since it was created. In 2010, a Looney Tunes New Year's Day marathon on Cartoon Network showed the episode "Mexican Boarders" having both Speedy and Slowpoke.
On the Looney Tunes Golden Collection the Speedy cartoons are prefaced by a disclaimer that states:
The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in American society. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. While the following does not represent the WB view of society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as to claim these prejudices never existed.
On May 3, 2011 a new show will air titled "The Looney Tunes Show" and will feature a, deeper voiced and less racist, Speedy Gonzales. he lives with Bugs and Daffy as their "mouse in the wall" and runs a pizza shop. He is shown to act as Daffy's "Jimmeny Cricket", which is a far cry from the antagonistic relationship they had from the old days.
In 1983, he co-starred in Daffy Duck's Movie: Fantastic Island. In 1988, he made a cameo appearance in the ending scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In 1996, he made a short appearance in film Space Jam. In 2003, he made a cameo appearance alongside Porky Pig in the film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, making fun of his politically incorrect status. At around the same time, he made a non-speaking cameo in an episode of ¡Mucha Lucha! titled "Lucha, Rinse and Repeat". In 2009, he made a cameo appearance on Kid vs. Kat in "The Kat Whisperer".
Volume 4 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD series, released on November 14, 2006, has an entire disc of Speedy shorts, although some of his other shorts had previously been released on Volumes 1 and 3. Speedy is mentioned in one Duck Dodgers episode, after Cadet sits on Dodgers, prompting him to say, "I knew I should've chosen Speedy Gonzales as a sidekick!"
In other mediaEdit
In 1962, pop singer Pat Boone scored a top 10 hit in the United States with the song "Speedy Gonzales" which featured Mel Blanc spouting faux-Mexican phrases as Speedy. It was also sung by Manolo Muñoz and A.B. Quintanilla's Kumbia All Starz, whose music video featured Speedy.
Henry Mancini borrowed the character's name for the title of an instrumental composition, first featured on his 1961 album Mr. Lucky Goes Latin.
In a Family Guy episode, Peter made up his American version of Speedy called Rapid Dave after he decided that immigrants shouldn't be allowed into America.
In February 2010, New Line Cinema and parent company Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they are planning a live-action/CG-animated combo feature film based on the Looney Tunes character. Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, who adapted comic "Garfield" into a similar style live-action/CG hybrid family film, will pen the script for the coming-of-age story which is set in the present day. The story has Speedy, a young and misunderstood Mexican mouse, finding himself leaving his family to go out in the world and figure out what he's good at. He soon makes friends with a nervous race-car driver. George Lopez will voice the character and produce the film, which will also star Vanessa Hudgens as Speedy Gonzales' owner.
In October 2010, Speedy Gonzales appeared alongside other Looney Tunes characters in a Virgin Media TV advert. Speedy also serves as current mascot for Virgin Media, a double reference to his own speed and to that of the company's fibre optic broadband.
'Capulina Speedy Gonzalez'Edit
In 1970, Gaspar Henaine "Capulina", a popular Mexican comedic actor, starred in a film based on some of the character trademarks and name. The story has a Mexican postal worker becoming incredibly fast whenever he eats a specific type of chilli pepper. The film features the Manolo Muñoz's version of the Speedy Gonzales song, as well as many of the stereotypes featured in the cartoons (the drinking, the laziness, the old fashioned Mexican way of dressing, the references to the USA views on Mexican culture, etc.).