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A Ham in a Role is a 1949 Looney Tunes short planned by Arthur Davis and finished by Robert McKimson.


A dog is tired of appearing in cartoons and goes home to study the works of Shakespeare. Upon arriving back home, the dog finds that his home has been invaded by gophers. Unfazed, the dog then begins reading Hamlet. Upon discovering the gophers sleeping in the book, he throws the book out the window.

The Goofy Gophers then get their revenge on the dog by literally interpreting lines from Shakespeare works, including "lending him ears," tormenting him with flames (to his foot), dousing him with "the joy of life" (by dumping a tub of water on the dog), dumping Limburger cheese as the dog utters the "that which we call a rose" line while holding a rose, imitating the exhumed Yorick in a dance (making the dog appear like a Shakespearean coward), using magnets on the floor and ceiling to toss the dog around the room (in armor), with the coup de grâce coming about when the Gophers use a horse to kick the dog out of his house and back to the studio, where the dog laments that "parting is such sweet sorrow," returning to the studio where he began as the song "You Ought to Be in Pictures" plays in the background. The dog recites, "To be...or not to be..." only to be splatted by the pie in the face again.





  • The short draws heavily from the works of William Shakespeare, with its gags relying on literal interpretations of lines from Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Richard III, and Romeo and Juliet.
  • This cartoon was originally issued as a Looney Tunes short with the Looney Tunes music. The cartoon was re-issued with Merrie Melodies credits, but retained the Looney Tunes music. Moreover, despite being reissued, the short's original ending titles were still shown as a part of gag after the opening credits.
  • Its working title was "A Hammy Hamlet".[1]
  • This would be the last short in the Golden Age of American Animation to star the dog that had opposed the Gophers in their first two appearances. In addition, this is the first Gophers cartoon to be directed by McKimson; it was supposed to be directed by Arthur Davis, but when Warner Bros. Cartoons reduced from four units to three, "A Ham in a Role" was reassigned to McKimson, along with animators J.C. Melendez and Emery Hawkins.[1]
  • This is the final Warner Bros. cartoon to be released in the 1940s.
  • The Shakespeare references recited by the dog in order of appearance and character role are:
    • Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1 (Hamlet)
    • Julius Caesar Act 3, Scene 2 (Marc Antony)
    • Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5 (Ghost)
    • Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2 (Juliet)
    • Hamlet Act 5, Scene 1 (Hamlet, about Yorick)
    • Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5 (Hamlet, to Ghost)
    • Julius Caesar Act 2, Scene 2 (Julius Caesar)
    • Richard III Act 5, Scene 3 (Last lines of the scene of which Richard is preparing his soldiers for battle)
    • Richard III Act 5, Scene 4 (Catesby and Richard III)
    • Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2 (Juliet)
    • Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1 (Hamlet, with a comedic twist)
  • Recent airings on Boomerang have the restored version with the original opening and ending rings.[2]