Foghorn Leghorn & James Garner

foghorn.gif …. garner.jpg

When I was a kid, they still showed Merrie Melodies and Loony Tunes cartoons bright and early most weekdays before school on the Ramblin’ Rod show. I think they had them on channel kptv 12. My brother and I used to get up to watch a show called ‘The Great Space Coaster’, which almost seems like a joke or a dream now, except Mark Hamil was on it once, so that gave it validation.

We’d go get our cereal and the bowl of sugar (We were progressive children, and believed in progressively sweetening our breakfast till the remaining milk in the bowl was a horrifyingly sweet sugar sludge which would harden into cement throughout the day, capturing wayward cornflakes like petrified leaves in the morning’s fossil record.) and watch loony tunes till we had to go to school. We claimed characters as favorites, so some cartoons got to bask in our approval while others, like Porky Pig, were barely tolerated.

My favorites as a kid were: Bugs, Taz, Pepe le pew, Tom & Jerry, the chickenhawk kid and Foghorn Leghorn. Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner were pretty cool, too.

Wile E. Coyote, of course, came to have universal truths that were revealed in adulthood. It’s probably the cartoon with the most cross over appeal. What seems like a fascinatingly stupid and amusing endeavor to a child comes to seem like a fairly good survival technique when you get to be a grown up.

Yes, Wile E. seemed to be nearly killed at the end of every episode, but his single minded pursuit of his heart’s desire kept him pushing forward, and his extreme tunnel vision kept him from looking around and noting that his hometown was a major dump. We learned that desperation breeds both danger and ingenuity, true. And his constant and repetitive failures make him intriguing and rather lovable, a point many adults are comforted to recall in later life.

wilie1.jpg

I really liked the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons the best though. I couldn’t help rooting for the blustery rooster. According to wikipedia, Foghorn’s speech and characteristics were patterned after ‘Senator Claghorn’, a character on the Fred Allen Radio Show. I’d never heard of the Fred Allen Radio Show, and even if I’d listened to it religiously, Foghorn Leghorn still would have stuck in my mind as the animated rooster embodiment of James Garner.

I’m not sure where the impression came from, but it’s still strong. It might be the distinctive way in which both of them speak, or the sort of swell-chested confidence, and naive attempts to set others straight. I was familiar with Garner because my mom used to watch detective shows in the late afternoon. All too often this meant that jowly fella in the black and white court series, what was his name? Not sure. He was always super intense and serious. (Mom thought he was handsome. Gag me.) Later, Magnum P.I. would fill the niche, and we’d be grateful if for no other reason than we liked Higgin’s doberman pincers, and their troubled relationship with the P.I.

(Mom also thought Tom Selleck was a hottie.)

She never expressed any yen for James Garner when she watched the Rockford Files though, and in this case I hafta seriously question her taste. Even though James Garner for me embodies the human equivalent of an animated rooster, this did not stop a small passion from developing. James Garner was always so ….tall, so… reasonable, so very… tall. And when he turned the fire on for one of his lady friends? Wow, James Garner could do the smoldering eye thing like nobody’s business. It was such a contrast to his friendly, reasonable voice.

Contrast is hot.

I definitely leaned more towards the human James Garner than I did toward Foghorn Leghorn; a relief, following on the heels of my first great passion for Mighty Mouse. A dysfunctional relationship, that: I would thrill to imaginings of being flown through the air, clutched to his strong, tiny chest; but I was just as likely to fantasize about him getting caught by his cat tormentors and tortured in true cat and mouse fashion. It was a love/hate relationship.

Anime porn only holds the barest of appeal nowadays, so I think I’ve left that Mighty Mouse phase firmly behind, but I happened to catch a few minutes of a pre-Rockford film with James Garner in it recently, and oh my gosh. Wasn’t he a handsome git? I almost didn’t see the anthropomorphized rooster in the tilt of his chin, the lean of his body. Yup… almost.

(contender for the least believable gunfight of all time:)

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14 thoughts on “Foghorn Leghorn & James Garner

  1. Love this one… I think “that jowly fella in the black and white court series” that you refer to is Raymond Burr’s portrayal of Perry Mason. I love the clips, too? Can you name the guy who Jim blows away in the gunfight, the mouthy little bastard in the front? I’ll give you a hint… he’s the nephew of Archibald MacLeish and he’s one of the most avid runners in show business. Give up? Okay, it’s Bruce Dern, but you probably knew all that without my professorial spiel. Anyway, great post! Thanks for the memories…

  2. Never was a HUGE Foghorn fan, but Rockford Files was the business.

    And there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to cartoon characters! I’m attracted to every female that Don Bluth has ever drawn, INCLUDING Mrs. Brisby!

  3. Heh. I usually get “Support Your Local Sheriff” and “Support Your Local Gunfighter” confused, since they both have Garner and Jack “Crazy Eyes” Elam. Those movies are pretty much the same. I think they were in heavy channel 12 rotation on Saturday afternoons, right after Fishing The West and before Star Trek. In any case, Garner was pretty good at playing the slick, clever everyman.

    And weren’t the Road Runner/Coyote cartoons about the dangers of a growing dependence on technology and the problems that come in hoping science would solve every problem?

  4. The Rockford files has the best theme music of all time. Garner was cool in low-rent sort of way. $200 a day plus expenses, I remember from the opening.

    I felt sympathy for Wile E. I hated that damn Roadrunner, all high and mighty. Wile E’s plans were sometimes sound, that bird had the luck of the devil (and a good writer).

  5. Molo- sure, I guess, if you want to be all adult and brainy about it. I personally don’t, and prefer to see the cartoons as a suggestive guide for the creative uses of TNT.

    jaynova- I’m so not gonna google that.

    (I lied.)

    (I can’t believe I forgot about the rats of NIMH)

    (She’s not really ‘hot’ though, is she? More… pretty. Classier than Minnie Mouse, but less fun at parties, like.)

    Bob- Glad you enjoyed, and I’d have never gotten that right. Is it really Archibald MacLeishe’s nephew? The mouthy one did seem familiar, but I didn’t know from what.

    Stevo- Better to be lucky than smart, you know.

  6. Also loved the blowhard with my single favourite line in all the MMs being “That’s a joke son, laugh.”. Other than him Yosemite Sam and the stand alone dancing singing frog in the box melancholy anti-success story.

  7. Yes, thanks for the memories, The Rockford Files reminds me of being off school sick, bundled under a blanket on the sofa while my mum did the ironing. That said, JG’s not my taste, too good-looking in that chiseldy kind of way

    cartoon, yep I did like FLeghorn, though Tom and Jerry were my absolute faves………..

    and I’m with your mom on Magnum PI, those hairy legs, that tash, scrumptious (I know, I know, he’s good looking too, but in a more everyman kind of way…….pathetic excuse, Jo, pathetic).

  8. OH yes, the theme for the Rockford files is the BEST! Talk about sparking memories of sitting in front of that old tv with the antennae. Awesome stuff.

    Not sure about the cartoon porn though. Hmmm…loved Bugs and actually I was a huge Road Runner fun (meep meep!) I so wanted to run that fast! Does anyone remember the car from the 70s named after it? The Plymouth Road Runner which even had a decal on the side of the RR dashing away in a cloud of dust. Loved that!

  9. I never got into Foghorn Leghorn. I don’t even know what kind of animal that one was. I wasn’t much for cartoons, except Wile E. and Sylvester.

    That is Bruce Dern in the scruffy beard in that second video. I love Bruce Dern.

  10. I thought that was kinda funny how all the guys commented one day, and all the girls commented the next day. Just coincidence, but still.

    barbara- Gosh, these days with the inturwebs you can see nearly anything without a television. I don’t know if that’s good or bad though.

    aos- I’m not familiar with the dancing frog, but Yosemite Sam, wow, that brings back memories.

    jo- Yeah, I hear you, I don’t often go for the chiseled thing but most varieties of tall, dark and handsome will cancel out my finickiness. You like the moustache? Yeah? I’m still coming to terms with the fuzzy face thing. Tom Selleck also has a wonderful voice.

    tgp- lol, it seems like a common thread of childhood, those old Rockford Files. Bugs is cool. I see him as the future foundation for characters such as Sponge Bob.

    Corina- He was the Rooster! Not into cartoons? Goodness. That’s almost as strange to me as when someone says they don’t like chocolate. I suppose it’s a possibility, but I can’t quite imagine it.

  11. Oh, my God, this was hilarious. I never would have made the connection … but you’re right. There is something very roosterish about James Garner.

    On a similar note, Wile E. Coyote now reminds me of Steve Buscemi.

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