Woody Woodpecker faced some tough yet amusing adversaries in his animated adventures. They included Wally Walrus, Buzz Buzzard and Ms. Meany. My pick for his best adversary is Gabby Gator, though.
For those readers who do not remember him, Gabby was a bright green alligator who was usually shown in a yellowish shirt and some sort of hat. He was not as creepy or tough as Buzz, but he gave Woody a run for his money. Also, he provided some great comedic scenes.
The first official appearance of Gabby Gator is the cartoon “Southern Fried Hospitality” (1960). Similar alligators like Gabby had appeared in the Woody cartoons “Romp in the Swamp” (1958) and “Everglade Raid” (1959) but it was “Southern Fried” where he is officially named, according to information from The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia.
Gabby was voiced by Daws Butler, a legend in the animation world. He was the voice of many famous cartoon characters. Besides voicing Gabby, he was the voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Scooby-Dum and Huckleberry Hound, to name a few. Also, Butler trained many working actors including Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson), according to my research. Other Lantz characters Daws gave voice to were Chilly Willy and his sidekick, Smedley the dog. But, back to Gabby…
The cartoon “Greedy Gabby Gator” (1963) is the last time the alligator was in a Woody Woodpecker short. The plot is similar to other Gabby appearances. Gabby sees Woody Woodpecker heading toward the Okedokee Swamp, so he nabs Woody and makes him think that he has arrived at Gabby’s Health Resort. He manages to escape from Gabby with the help of a crocodile. Interestingly, Gabby Gator finds himself chased by the crocodile.
As much as I love Gabby as one of Woody’s main foes, there is a drawback to Gabby-many of his cartoons are the same. In many of his appearances the gator is hungry and decides to eat Woody. Some cartoon lovers would argue that if you have seen “Southern Fried Hospitality,” there is no reason to see any other Gabby cartoon. I disagree, of course.
Southern Fried Hospitality (1960)
Gabby’s Diner (1961)
Woody’s Kook-Out (1961)
Rock-A-Bye Gator (1962)
Rocket Racket (1962)
Voo-Doo Boo-Boo (1962)
Little Woody Riding Hood (1962)
Greedy Gabby Gator (1963)