This here is the last regular Looney Tune to be created during the golden age. (By which I mean, making my criteria of appearing in at least five shorts.) As is befitting his name, Merlin is a magician. The joke being, that he’s not a very good one. It’s not much of a joke, but to liven it up a little, he actually HAS some magic powers. (Or at least his hat does.)
For his first appearance (In the appropriately named “Merlin the Magic Mouse”) he was voiced by the talented Daws Butler. For his remaining appearances, the role went to Larry Storch. His voice sounds like a dying W.C. Fields. An odd choice I must say. By 1968, was Fields still popular enough to spoof? Is Merlin a field mouse? Is it just because he has a red nose? Maybe they were just trying to keep the studio afloat as long as they could, knowing that the end was nigh?
Merlin is always accompanied by his sidekick, Second Banana.
A sad enough name, but even worse, the kid doesn’t get many lines. (I’m actually not sure of his age. He seems like a kid.) When he does talk, he shares the voice of whoever is voicing Merlin, minus the Fields voice. He wore a bow tie for his first three appearances, but upgraded to a sweater for the final two.
They’re entertaining enough, but I suppose it just wasn’t enough to keep the public interested in short films playing at theaters any longer. These two kinda faded into obscurity, but they had appearances in merchandise, like dolls and comics. Merlin himself would make cameos in both “The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries” and “Bugs Bunny’s Crazy Castle” Nice to see he had SOME sort of legacy.
They may not be animation’s most popular mice, but they are good enough to see the studio on its way out. Hats off to you Merlin, and your second banana too. I’m happy to blog about your guy’s greatest works. (All five of them)