The Reason Porky Pig Stutters

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Maguy Banker via YouTube

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Many cartoon characters have distinctive voices, but there's no mistaking when Porky Pig speaks. Porky’s tendency to repeat certain letters and syllables has been with him since he debuted on Merrie Melodies in 1935—and that’s because his original voice actor, Joe Dougherty, also had a severe stutter. Here’s I Haven’t Got a Hat, the grand debut of both Porky and Dougherty:

Dougherty voiced Porky for two years, but got the ax when, ironically, he couldn’t get his stuttering under control. His speech was causing him to miss cues, which resulted in costly production delays for the studio.

In 1937, Mel Blanc, also the voice of Bugs Bunny, picked up the role and ran with it for the next 52 years. Blanc’s inspiration for Porky’s stutter, however, was a little different. “I went out to a pig farm and wallowed around with them and found out if a pig could talk, he’d talk with a grunt," said Blanc. "That’s how Porky talks—with a grunt.”

The National Stuttering Project of San Francisco was apparently unimpressed with Blanc’s characterization. In 1991, the organization picketed Warner Bros. in protest, saying that Porky’s style of speech belittled people who really suffered from a stammer. You’ve probably noticed that 25 years later, Porky still gets stuck—but the studio did give the Stuttering Foundation of America a $12,000 grant and made a series of public service announcements denouncing those who bully stutterers.

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January 30, 2016 - 8:00am
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