|Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies character|
|First appearance||Walky Talky Hawky (1946)|
|Significant other||Miss Prissy|
Foghorn Leghorn is a cartoon rooster who appears in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons and films from Warner Bros. Animation. He was created by Robert McKimson, and starred in 29 cartoons from 1946 to 1964 in the golden age of American animation. All 29 of these cartoons were directed by McKimson.
Foghorn Leghorn's first appearance was in the 1946 Henery Hawk short Walky Talky Hawky. Foghorn's voice was created and originally performed by Mel Blanc and was later performed by Jeff Bergman, Joe Alaskey, Greg Burson, Frank Gorshin, Jeff Bennett, Bill Farmer, and Eric Bauza.
Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the character of Senator Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar on Fred Allen's popular 1940s radio show. Foghorn adopted many of Claghorn's catchphrases, such as "I say..." and "That's a joke, son!" Delmar's inspiration for Claghorn was a Texas rancher who was fond of saying this.
According to Leonard Maltin, the character's voice was also patterned after a hard-of-hearing West Coast-only radio character from the 1930s, known simply as The Sheriff, on a radio program called Blue Monday Jamboree. The accent has similarities to that of another Mel Blanc voice: Yosemite Sam (a strictly Friz Freleng character); and even more similar to a proto-Sam character in Stage Door Cartoon.
Physically, Foghorn Leghorn is depicted as a very large rooster with a non-rhotic Southern accent; he is easily the tallest of all the regular Looney Tunes characters. He has a bombastic and somewhat unrefined personality, and shows a penchant for mischief. Aside from the Senator Claghorn reference, his first name "Foghorn" is indicative of his loudmouthed personality, while his surname "Leghorn" refers to a particular Italian breed of chicken.
Foghorn often fancied himself a mentor figure to the smaller and younger characters he encountered, particularly Henery Hawk, tossing off bits of self-styled sagacity interjected with phrases like "Pay attention, son", or "Look at me when I'm talkin' to ya, boy", both of which borrowed heavily from Senator Claghorn's vernacular. But this proves to be Foghorn's worst trait, as his loud and fast mouth and propensity for over-explanation eventually annoys his intended subjects so much that, completely fed up with him, they end up hitting him over the head with a blunt object, yelling "Ahhhhh, SHADDAP!" and leaving in a huff.
Beginning with the 1949 cartoon Henhouse Henery, Foghorn would perform a verse from the Stephen Foster song "Camptown Races", softly humming the lyrics while loudly singing the refrain "Doo-Dahh! Doo-Dahh!", and ending the verse, again loudly, with "Ohh, Doo-Dahh Day!" He often hummed the song more than once in a given short, though in the 1950 cartoon The Leghorn Blows at Midnight, he hummed "Camptown" only at the beginning, but then hummed "Old MacDonald" in two later scenes. On occasion, he would also sing his own lyrics if they were related to what he was doing at the time. "Camptown Races" essentially became Foghorn's signature tune and one of the most widely familiar uses of the song in popular culture. The final theatrical film in which the "Camptown" is scored for Foghorn is Mother Was a Rooster (1962).
Many of Foghorn's cartoons involve his perennial prank war with Barnyard Dawg (who often addresses Foghorn as "Foggy"), though it is never revealed how or why their feud started in the first place. Foghorn is often the initial aggressor, but unlike most of the other Looney Tunes rivalries, Foghorn pranks Dawg out of sheer self-amusement and Dawg is usually the one with the winning hand in nearly every short they appear together, although both lost in Walky Talky Hawky, Of Rice and Hen, and Mother Was a Rooster. But for all of Foghorn's pranks, Dawg is just as adept at retaliation.
Most of the Leghorn cartoons began the same: Foghorn, humming "Camptown Races" to himself and carrying a wooden plank, sneaks up on Dawg while he is sleeping, often facing into his doghouse with his back protruding out the entry hole. Foghorn then pulls Dawg up by his tail and uses the plank to give him a whacking on his rear (in nearly every cartoon Foghorn gives Dawg eight whacks), at which point the angered Dawg chases after Foghorn barking, but can only go as far as the rope to which he is tied, which either yanks him back or stops him. In the latter case, he keeps barking at Foghorn who tells him, "Aah-h, sha-daahhp!" or does something to Dawg to force him to stop.
Despite their feud, Foghorn and Dawg manage to get along in a few instances, usually joining forces to defeat somebody who caused problems for both of them (e.g. Daffy Duck in The High and the Flighty or a fox in Fox-Terror).
In the 1958 short Feather Bluster the prank feud was passed down to Dawg's and Foghorn's respective grandsons, and the now-elderly Foghorn was puzzled as to why the little leghorn was behaving the way he was, but the elderly Dawg was only too happy to point out there's nothing wrong with him, except that "he takes after you."
Other recurring themes throughout the cartoons included the attempts of the naive and diminutive Henery Hawk to catch and eat a chicken and Foghorn usually tricking him into believe that he is another animal and that Dawg is a chicken; and Foghorn's own efforts to woo the widowed hen Miss Prissy, often by babysitting her studious son, Egghead Jr. Foghorn was joined in a few episodes by a weasel called "Bill" who initially attempted to eat him but ended up joining forces to outwit the aforementioned canine.
All of the 29 shorts from 1946 to 1964 were directed by Robert McKimson
Appeared in several Kentucky Fried Chicken commercials.