‘Gawrsh!’: 15 Trivia Tidbits About Goofy
In the world of cartoon dogs, Goofy is one A-list mutt and probably only second to Scooby-Doo in popularity. BFF to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, the awkward pooch has enjoyed many an animated adventure over the years, much to the ire of Walt Disney. Read on for more on that, his forgotten son (decades before Max) and other tidbits about the character lovingly described as the “good-natured bonehead who never did anything right if he could get it wrong.”
Some People Think That Goofy Is a Cow
Some folks are under the impression that the fedora-loving Disney pooch is actually a cow. This, according to Snopes, is mainly due to a tongue-in-cheek satirical article written by Reel Rundown in 2012. Of course, not everyone got that it was all fictitious fun, and claims of Goofy being a farm animal soon scattered across the internet like some new-found revelation.
Art Babbitt, Disney animator and Goofy developer, described his character as Pluto (the dog), only with more human-like features. “It is true that there is a vague similarity in the construction of the Goof’s head and Pluto’s,” Babbitt once said. “The use of the eyes, mouth and ears are entirely different. One is dog, the other human. The Goof’s head can be thought of in terms of a caricature of a person with a pointed dome — large, dreamy eyes, buck teeth and weak chin, a large mouth, a thick lower lip, a fat tongue and a bulbous nose that grows larger on its way out and turns up. His eyes should remain partly closed to help give him a stupid, sloppy appearance, as though he were constantly straining to remain awake, but of course, they can open wide for expressions or accents. He blinks quite a bit. His ears, for the most part, are just trailing appendages and are not used in the same way as Pluto’s ears except for rare expressions.”
Not a Dog?
So, is Goofy a dog or not? Bill Farmer, his voice actor since 1987, says not so much. At least, not in the way that Pluto’s a dog. Farmer explained that Goofy surely belongs to the canine family but that he’d rather label the character as his own branch called “Canis Goofus” instead of dog. In other words, Goofy is just Goofy.
Erin Glover, Director of Publicity and Communications at Disney Animation, told Snopes, “The Disney Animation Research Library and the Walt Disney Archives agree that this question was best answered by Disney Legend Dave Smith: ‘Goofy was originally created as a human character with dog-like characteristics, thus why he walks upright, wears clothes, talks and has animal features that resemble a dog.’”
His First Appearance
Goofy made his Disney debut in 1932 as an audience member loudly munching on peanuts in the animated short Mickey’s Revue.
The Claim That Walt Disney Didn’t Like Goofy
Neal Gabler, historian and writer of Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination, wrote in Disney’s biography that the man apparently hated The Goof. “He talks constantly about how much he hates (those early characters) but never really specifies what he hates about them,” Gabler explained during an interview. “He thought they were stupid, I think, at some point. There was no emotional engagement in them. They’re just a bunch of stupid cartoons with gags tied together, which, in a way, was getting way back to the early days of animation. Walt had striven so hard to get away from that notion of just putting a bunch of gags together that have no kind of larger narrative context and no emotional context. Walt always hated Goofy, and he would’ve deep-sixed Goofy a long time ago if the studio didn’t need to make those movies to give ‘make work’ to so many of the animators. Boy, he hated Goofy.”
For a while, Goofy wasn’t named Goofy. Following his on-screen debut, the anthropomorphic mutt starred in a newspaper comic strip as Dippy Dawg. It wasn’t until 1939 that he would officially be named Goofy in the film Goofy & Wilbur.
The Origin of Goofy
The idea for the definitely-not-a-cow character came from his original voice actor, Pinto Colvig. In his autobiography, It’s a Crazy Business: The Goofy Life of a Disney Legend, Colvig shared how he created a stage character called “The Oregon Appleknocker,” inspired by a “half-baked village nitwit” from his hometown of Jacksonville, Oregon. When Disney came knocking to add characters to the world of Mickey Mouse, Colvig’s character evolved into the Goofy we know today.
When Art Babbitt First Met Goofy
Goofy’s designer and ultimate developer said he first encountered the character in one of Goofy’s earliest drawn-up shorts. “The first time I came across Goofy was in a black-and-white short called Mickey’s Service Station (1935),” Babbitt remembered. “In that picture, Goofy was on top of an engine block and, as he reached down into it, his own hand came up behind him and goosed him. Then, there was a bit of monkey business before he found out it was his own hand. I wanted that scene very badly because I thought I could have fun with it. But they had only allotted, I think, 7 or 8 feet of film for the whole business. I thought you couldn’t do anything in that.”
Babbitt explained that he practically begged Disney to give him the scene, and a deal was made. “The Goofy thing would up 57 feet long, and after that, I was always kidded about padding scenes.” Mickey’s Service Station would become the first short featuring the fleshed-out character of Goofy.
A Change in Goofy
During the 1940s, Goofy underwent a change in presentation. Most of his voice and dialogue disappeared, keeping only that goofy laugh and some random exclamatory sounds. The biggest reason for this was that animation was becoming too expensive, so Disney adopted a simpler, economical approach to their properties. The decade also saw less character development and more slapstick comedy implemented throughout cartoons.
The Jack Kinney Era
During those changing times, Disney Studios set up a production unit for each of their individual characters. Kinney, a former newspaperman turned Disney director, was assigned as head of Goofy’s unit and, specifically, his “How To” cartoon series.
Kinney employed narration in these shorts to solve the problem of Goofy’s voice artist, Colvig, going to work on Fleischer Studios’ Popeye the Sailor in 1939. “We needed a voice that would be completely at variance with what was happening on the screen, the screwy situations that only Goofy could get into,” Kinney explained. “We wanted someone who could project a heavy, omniscient quality. Someone who talked it straight and pontifical, no matter what our gonged-out hero was doing!”
John McLeish would ultimately serve as the narrator to counter Goofy’s on-screen antics.
Kinney Was Inspired by the ‘Bonus System’
“The first one I did, when we started that series, was Goofy’s Glider (1940),” Kinney explained. “Then I got to thinking, I’ve got to dream up something — because they put in the bonus system, and the bonus system is a pretty handy thing because if you did a picture under $35,000, you got a piece of change back. Everybody on the thing, not just the director, but the story guys, and the animators, and everybody else. We had a gung-ho group going for a while till they stopped that, and when they stopped that, pictures went up from $35,000 to $45,000 to $55,000 to $65,000 to over $100,000 for 500 feet. So — I don’t know when it happened — why not do a how-to-do-it series? We used to have to send in a piece of paper every week to Walt if we had any ideas. So I wrote out a little synopsis of stuff, and I suggested titles — How to Ride a Horse was the first one, and How to Ski, and how to do this, and I sent them, and I said, I think this could be made with one character, and maybe a few incidental characters, with narration over rather than mouth action.”
Goofy’s original voice actor returned in the 1944 short How to Be a Sailor and would continue voicing him until he died in 1967. Following Colvig, several others played Goofy, including Jimmy MacDonald (the voice of Mickey), Peter Hawkins (the Daleks in Doctor Who) and Hal Smith (Winnie the Pooh), who took over from Colvig until 1983.
A Goof with a Different Name
In the 1950s, Goofy became the working everyman, even getting himself a new name: George Geef. He was married to a human woman (whose face we never saw) and had a son, George Junior, who didn’t have dog ears like his dad.
An Uncredited Voice Actor
Disney’s First Superhero Character?
Goofy’s alter ego, Super Goof, is believed to be Disney’s first-ever superhero character. Super Goof first appeared in the 1965 Walt Disney comic The Phantom Blot Meets Super Goof. Donald Duck’s comic super alter ego, Paperinik, would make his first appearance in 1969.
The Theory That Goofy Accidentally Killed His Wife
In the 1990s cartoon Goof Troop, Goofy is portrayed as a single father with a son, Max. The production notes of the show suggested that Max’s mom died because his dad wanted to get the perfect picture of the Grand Canyon. Oh, my Gawrsh.