Foghorn Leghorn is an anthropomorphic rooster appearing in 29 Warner Bros. cartoons.
The character of Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the popular character of Senator Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar who was a regular character on The Fred Allen Show, a popular radio show of the 1940s. The rooster adopted many of Claghorn's catchphrases, such as "That's a joke, ah say, that's a joke, son." Delmar had based the character of Claghorn upon a Texas rancher who was fond of saying this.
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 (an almost exclusive Friz Freleng character). Both parts of the name suggest the association with "Senator Claghorn." According to Leonard Maltin, the character's voice was also patterned after a hard-of-hearing West Coast-only radio character from the 1930s, known simply as The Sheriff, on a radio program called Blue Monday Jamboree. The voice has similarities to that of another Mel Blanc voice, Yosemite Sam, a strictly Friz Freleng character, and even more similar to a proto-Sam character in "Stage Door Cartoon".
Foghorn is a large, anthropomorphic adult rooster with a red head, long red tailfeathers, and yellow talons with short yellow claws. He has a Virginian accent, a "good ol' boy" speaking style, and a penchant for mischief. He has a knack of saying, "I say" as a form of interjection in his speech. All of the motion picture Foghorn Leghorn cartoons were directed by Robert McKimson, and the rooster vies with the Tasmanian Devil as the most popular character associated with the director. Many of the gimmicks involve Foghorn and Barnyard Dawg engaging in one-upmanship through a series of pranks. Unlike other Looney Tunes rivalries (with the notable exception of the Wile E. Coyote & Road Runner series), Foghorn is often the initial aggressor out of self-amusement and subsequently on the "losing" end of gimmicks.
Most common among them was Leghorn's taking up a plank of wood, while ambling along humming "Camptown Races", coming to the sleeping Barnyard 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. Barnyard would give chase, usually with his leash still attached to his collar, until the leash stretched tautly and his barking was replaced by an anguished shriek.
At times, when the dog would continue to bark, he would also yell, "AAAAAAAHHH, shaddap!" In rare cases, Barnyard starts the series of pranks; as such it is somewhat difficult to tell who started the feud. This gag was passed down to Leghorn's grandson in "Feather Bluster", where Foghorn was puzzled as to why the youngster was behaving that way and Barnyard was all too happy to remind him: "Ain't nothin' wrong with 'im, Foggy, 'ceptin' 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 outsmart Barnyard.
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.). Foghorn's voice was created by Mel Blanc and was later performed by Joe Alaskey, Frank Gorshin, Bill Farmer, and Jeff Bennett. Later, some of Foghorn's characteristic catch-phrases were drawn from the character of Senator Claghorn, a blustering Southern politician who was a regular character on the Fred Allen radio show. The rooster adopted many of Claghorn's catchphrases, 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.
Foghorn Leghorn made numerous appearances in Tiny Toon Adventures in numerous roles as Acme Looniversity's Professor of Hound Teasing, Baseball Coach and an obnoxiously loud Librarian. Foghorn appeared in an episode of The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries entitled "Family Circles" and was voiced by Billy West. The rooster appeared in two Chuck Jones shorts of the 1990s, "Superior Duck" (1996) and "Pullet Surprise" (1997), voiced on both occasions by Frank Gorshin. He was part of the Toon Squad 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 Jack In The Box, McDonald's, and GEICO. A character named Mr. Leghorn, based on Foghorn himself, made a pair of appearances in Loonatics Unleashed.
Foghorn Leghorn is considered a significant Looney Tunes character, appearing in 28 cartoons, plus one cameo, in the Golden Age of American Animation. All 29 cartoons Foghorn Leghorn appeared in the Golden Age were directed by Robert McKimson, the animator who created him.
His voice was created by voice actor Mel Blanc, heavily patterned after the character of Senator Claghorn (hence Foghorn's name), a blustering southern politician who was a regular character on the Fred Allen radio show. Senator Claghorn was created and voiced by radio comedian Kenny Delmar. Foghorn Leghorn also used a number of Claghorn's catchphrases, like "That's a joke, son". The references to Senator 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 and "go over the heads" of most modern-day audiences.
- "That, I say, that woman has a mouth like an outboard motor. Put-Put-Put-Put-Put-Put-Put."
- "Go, I say, go away, boy, ya bother me!"
- "That, I say, that boy's about as sharp as a bowling ball."
- "Boy, I say, boy has got a mouth like a cannon. Always shooting it off."
- "Don't, I say, don't bother me, Dog. Can't you see I'm thinkin'?"
- "Hey, whatcha making there boy? Looks like sodi-pop. Hyuk yuk! Watch it fizz!!" KA-BLAM
- "Keep your shirt on, Prissy. He's just, I say just stirring the wagering pot."
- "Looks like our fine feathered friend is heading into Venetian territory...of Venice, Italy, that is."
- "That dog's as subtle as a hand grenade in a barrel of oatmeal."
- "Nice kid but doesn't listen to a word you say."
- "Nice kid but a little dumb."
- "That boy's as strong as an ox. And just about as smart."
- "That dog, I say that dog is lower than a snake full of buckshot."
- "Smart boy. Got a mind like a steel trap - full of mice."
- "Now cut that out boy, or I'll spank you where your feathers are thinnest."
- "Pay attention to me boy. I'm not just talking to hear my head roar."
- "This boy's more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind."
- "That woman's as cold as a nudist on an iceberg."
- "Some days, it don't pay to get outta bed!"
- (sniffs air, imitates Tarzan calls, but coughs, then sings) "This is the way we bounce the ball, bounce the ball, bounce the ball, this is way we bounce the ball early in the mornin'"
- "That dog, I say that dog, is strictly G.I. - Gibbering Idiot, that is."
- "Secure last section of Pipe G, stretch Elastic X laterally."
- "Boy's so dumb, you put his brain on the sharp edge of a razor blade, it would look like a marble rolling down a four-lane highway."
- "Speakin' of figures, I put two n' two together and come up with a four-legged smart-aleck mutt!"
- "The screwball in the back pocket!"
List of Foghorn Cartoons
- "Walky Talky Hawky" (1946)
- "Crowing Pains" (1947)
- "The Foghorn Leghorn" (1948)
- "Henhouse Henery" (1949)
- "The Leghorn Blows at Midnight" (1950)
- "A Fractured Leghorn" (1950)
- "Leghorn Swoggled" (1951)
- "Lovelorn Leghorn" (1951)
- "Sock a Doodle Do" (1952)
- "The EGGcited Rooster" (1952)
- "Plop Goes the Weasel!" (1953)
- "Of Rice and Hen" (1953)
- "Little Boy Boo" (1954)
- "Feather Dusted" (1955)
- "All Fowled Up" (1955)
- "Weasel Stop" (1956)
- "The High and the Flighty" (1956)
- "Raw! Raw! Rooster!" (1956)
- "Fox Terror" (1957)
- "Feather Bluster" (1958)
- "Weasel While You Work" (1958)
- "A Broken Leghorn" (1959)
- "Crockett-Doodle-Do" (1960)
- "The Dixie Fryer" (1960)
- "Strangled Eggs" (1961)
- "The Slick Chick" (1962)
- "Mother Was a Rooster" (1962)
- "Banty Raids" (1963)
- "False Hare" (1964) (cameo)
Post-Golden Age Shorts
- "The Yolks on You" (part of Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-citement) (1980)
- "Superior Duck" (1996), voiced by Frank Gorshin
- "Pullet Surprise" (1997), voiced by Frank Gorshin
- "Cock-a-Doodle Duel" (2004), voiced by Jeff Bennett
- Baby Looney Tunes (2005), voiced by Scott McNeil
- The Looney Tunes Show (2011), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- New Looney Tunes (2015), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- Looney Tunes Cartoons (2020), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit (cameo appearance) (1988)
- Space Jam (1996), voiced by Bill Farmer
- Tweety's High-Flying Adventure (2000), voiced by Jeff Bennett
- Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), voiced by Jeff Bennett
- Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006), voiced by Joe Alaskey
- Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run (2015), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021), voiced by Jeff Bergman
- Jeff Bergman: Wabbit/New Looney Tunes, The Looney Tunes Show, The 1st 13th Annual Fancy Anvil Awards Show Special, Tiny Toon Adventures, Taz-Mania, Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run, Looney Tunes Cartoons, Space Jam: A New Legacy
- Damon Jones: The Looney Tunes Show (singing voice only)
- Mel Blanc: 1946 - 1987
- Billy West: The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Histeria!
- Bill Farmer: Space Jam, Looney Tunes: Space Race, Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor
- Jeff Bennett: Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Tweety's High-Flying Adventure
- Joe Alaskey: Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas
- Frank Gorshin: "Superior Duck," "Pullet Surprise"
- Main article: Foghorn Leghorn/Gallery
- , ""It's a joke, Son!"", AFI Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, vol. 1, University of California Press, 1971, ISBN 9780520215214, at 1190
- Scott, Keith (2008). The Origin of Foghorn Leghorn, cartoonresearch.com