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Foghorn Leghorn (full name Foghorn J., I say, Foghorn J. Leghorn according to 1950s comics produced by studio staffers) is a character that appears in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for Warner Bros. He was created by Robert McKimson, and starred in 28 cartoons between 1946 and 1963 in the Golden Age of American animation. All 28 of these cartoons were directed by McKimson.
Foghorn Leghorn is a large, white adult rooster with a Central Virginia accent and a penchant for mischief. He first appeared in 1946 in a Henery Hawk film entitled Walky Talky Hawky. All of the motion picture Foghorn Leghorn cartoons were directed by Robert McKimson, and the rooster vies with Taz, the Tasmanian Devil as the most popular character associated with the director.
Many of the gags involved Foghorn and a canine nemesis (formally known as The Barnyard Dawg within Warner today, though on early model sheets his name is given as George P. Dog) engaging in one-upmanship through a series of pranks. Unlike other Looney Tunes rivalries—with the notable exception of the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner series—Foghorn is often the initial aggressor out of self-amusement and subsequently on the 'losing' end of gags. Most common among them was Leghorn's taking up a plank of wood, while ambling along humming "Camptown Races" (the only intelligible words being "DOO-Dah! DOO-Dah!"), coming to the sleeping Dawg with his front half inside his doghouse, picking up his tail and rapidly whacking (almost always with eight strokes) his exposed rear end. Occasionally, Foghorn sings the song, but replaces "Camptown ladies sing this song..." with "Lump-teen-dozen and a-doo-dah day...". He does not sing any other part of the song, reverting to humming after the DOO-Dah's. Foghorn Leghorn loses his feathers very often in the episodes, usually revealing his bare skin or his boxers.
The dog would give chase, usually with his leash still attached to his collar, until the leash stretched taut and his barking was replaced by an anguished howl. At times, when the dog would continue to bark, he would also yell, "Aaaaaahhhhh, shaddap!" In rare cases, it's the dog that starts the series of pranks; as such it is somewhat difficult to tell who started the feud. This gag was passed down to the Leghorns' grandson in Feather Bluster, where Foghorn was puzzled as to why the kid was behaving that way and the Dog was all too happy to remind him: "Ain't nothin' wrong with 'im, Foggy, 'cept that he takes after you."
He 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.
Other recurring themes throughout the cartoons included the attempts of the diminutive Henery Hawk to catch and eat Foghorn, and the rooster's efforts to woo the widowed hen Miss Prissy (often by babysitting her bookish son, Egghead, Jr.).
The rooster adopted many of Claghorn's catch phrases, such as "That's a joke, I say, that's a joke, son." The references to Claghorn were obvious to much of the audience when the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons first premiered, but like many of the references in WB cartoons of the era, they have since become dated.
A toddler version of Foghorn made appearances in short music videos of Baby Looney Tunes. He starred in only one episode of the show, in which he was trying to fit in with a gang of cool roosters and employed the help of Tweety and his friends before Lola Bunny suggested to just be himself, which came in handy when Barnyard Dawg chased the cool roosters.
A leghorn is a breed of chicken, and foghorn describes the character's loud, overbearing voice. At its most raucous, it sounds similar to that of another Blanc voice: Yosemite Sam (a strictly Friz Freleng character). Both parts of the name suggest the association with "Senator Claghorn."
Foghorn Leghorn made numerous appearances in Tiny Toon Adventures in numerous roles as Acme Loonervesity's Professor of Hound Teasing, Baseball Coach and an obnoxiously loud Librarian. Foghorn made a cameo appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, in the final scene at Marvin Acme's factory with several other Looney Tunes characters. The rooster appeared in two Chuck Jones shorts of the 1990s, Superior Duck (1996) and Pullet Surprise (1997). He was part of the Tune Squad basketball team in Space Jam, and was a croupier at Sam's casino in Looney Tunes: Back in Action. In addition, Foghorn appeared in commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Oscar Meyer and most recently, GEICO insurance. A character named Mr. Leghorn, based on Foghorn himself, made a pair of appearances in Loonatics Unleashed.