The voice of a cartoon-watching generation has died.
Joe Alaskey, who has been credited with providing the sound for Looney Tunes’s Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and then some passed away Wednesday after a short battle with cancer, according to his spokesperson.
The New York native had a passion for acting his entire life, though he did not start professionally until a move to Manhattan in the 1970s. His first onscreen appearances included roles in ‘80s TV series such as Galtar and the Golden Lance, Night Court, and Head of the Class.
From there, Alaskey made his break into the cinema world in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) in which he played the red-bearded Yosemite Sam, snagging him that role for Looney Tunes for the unfurling decades. He also took over revered voice actor Mel Blanc’s role, Foghorn Leghorn, when Blanc’s illness that would soon take his life overwhelmed him.
Following the premiere of the film and Blanc’s passing, the beloved roles of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck became inheritance to Alaskey. He also appeared in multitudes of other Looney Tunes shows, voicing Wile E. Coyote and the Tasmanian Devil. Later down the road, as his resume of cartoon characters blossomed, Alaskey filled in for the available roles of Tweety, as well as Tweety’s nemesis Sylvester the cat, Pepe le Pew, and Marvin the Martian.
In 1990, Alaskey’s impressioned voice had become rooted so deeply across the Looney Tunes spectrum that he was awarded an original character of his own–Plucky Duck, a young mentee to Daffy. The creation spiraled into nearly one hundred episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures, several movies, and a spin-off show for Alaskey to star, The Plucky Duck Show (1992).
Then, Alaskey landed one of his arguably most significant roles–voicing Daffy Duck in the action cartoon Duck Dodgers, which immortalized Alaskey’s position as the voice for Daffy as well as earned him an Emmy in 2004.
Joe Alaskey’s talents were not restrained to Warner Bros. cartoons either. His voice is also attributed to Ghost Trio member Stinkie in Casper (1995), as well as Grandpa Lou Pickle in Rugrats, several accompanying films, and the spin-off show All Grown Up! after the original voice, David Doyle, passed.
Joe Alaskey’s voice mattered to the childhoods of millions of Americans, and that voice crossed generations, dozens of remakes, spinoffs, and over franchises. Recently he played Droopy the cynical dog in Tom and Jerry cartoons. The decorated voice actor has also provided the sounds for the elderly superhero Mermaid Man in the 2005 video game Spongebob Squarepants: Lights, Camera, Pants!, based on the popular children’s show.
His friend, television writer Mark Evanier, posted a moving tribute to the honored voice actor on his blog News From Me:
“…Joe had so many different voices that it was sometimes difficult to choose which one we wanted out of him. The one I liked best was when he sounded like Joe Alaskey. He had a long, long list of voices but that’s the one I will miss the most.”