Celebrating World Penguin Day with Three Favorite ‘Classic’ Penguins…
According to online sources, there are between 17 and 20 living species of Penguins in the world today. That’s kind of cool (forgive the pun). But…for many of us pop culture fans, that seems to be quite an understatement. From sports teams, mascots, brands and logos — to books, video games, comics and films (not to mention the dreaded google algorithm) — those cute little guys seem to be pretty popular fellows. In fact, since the mid-2000s, Penguins have made quite a big comeback on film, ‘starring’ in some bonafide blockbuster films including Happy Feet and Madagascar (in which they practically stole the show, and went on to star in their own spin-off film and Nickelodeon television series).
So, in honor of World Penguin Day, which is today April 25th, let’s celebrate three favorite Classic Movie and Television Penguins…
No Classic Penguin Celebration would be complete without the villainous Penguin who wreaked havoc with the Caped Crusaders in the 1966 Batman film, as well as the classic Batman television series which aired from 1966-1968. This fiendishly flightless fellow was played by veteran classic movie actor, Burgess Meredith.
“Tennessee Tuxedo will not fail!”
Complete with a bow-tie to adorn his formal plumage attire, the wise-cracking and ‘superior-minded’ Tennessee Tuxedo lived at the Megapolis Zoo with best pal Chumley the Walrus. Tennessee and Chumley regularly attempted all kinds of crazy schemes which got them into lots of trouble and, when faced with more trouble than they could handle, they turned to friend Phineas J. Whoopee for help (the “man with all the answers”). This pertinacious penguin was voiced by Don Adams who is probably best known for his role as Maxwell Smart on the hit TV show, Get Smart, which aired from 1965-1970. Incidentally, Chumley was voiced by Bradley Bolke and Phineas J. Whoopee was voiced by Larry Storch of F-Troop fame.
From the first self-titled theatrical short in 1953 through the transition to television on The Woody Woodpecker Show (and beyond), poor little Chilly Willy was constantly searching for food and warmth, much to the chagrin of nemesis Smedly the Dog. Donning a cute little pom-pom cap, Chilly was adorably ‘relentless’ in his pursuits, always returning after Smedly booted him out, and sometimes even ‘magically’ appearing in the most unexpected places. This too-cute-for-words, but persistently pesky Penguin was originally voiced by Sara Berner (in the very first short, Chilly Willy), but then remained silent until the mid 1960s at which time he was voiced by Daws Butler.
–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub