“Follow your nose!”
It is a well-known fact that in the world of cartoons, a big nose allows one to smell things at great distances. Perhaps the best example of this ability lies in a colorful creature from the South American rainforests, Ramphastos sulfuratus, or in layman’s terms, a keel-billed Toucan by the name of Sam – Toucan Sam.
Sam can apparently smell his favorite breakfast cereal from miles around. His personal affinity for Froot Loops can be attested to by the cosmetic work he has done on his beak over the years (par for the course with celebrities). While nature gave him two pink stripes, he eventually had it altered to display all of the colors contained in each box of Froot Loops: cherry red, lemon yellow and orange. Granted, some additional flavors have been added in recent years and certainly Sam is aware of this. It’s just that sometimes it can be so hard to get a timely appointment with a plastic surgeon in Hollywood, especially one equipped to handle a snoot like Toucan Sam’s.
One thing must also be said of Sam, his mild-mannered English self-control. Sam doesn’t go cuckoo for Froot Loops like another feathered spokesman. And he is more than willing to share his treats, another uncommon trait in the cartoon world. He must set an example for his three nephews, Puey, Susey and Louis – all of whom idolize their famous uncle. His battles with notorious villains such as Dr. Peacock, Froot Queen and the alien froot monster are the stuff from which legends are made. Still, he always manages to smell his way out of any situation and deliver the fruity goods to anyone in need. While Toucan Sam has gone through some changes over the years, his reputation remains unaltered.
The voice of Toucan Sam has changed a few times over the years. When he was first introduced in the early 60s, it was “the man of a thousand voices,” Mel Blanc, at the helm (You might remember Mel’s voice from such minor characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig and Barney Rubble). Eventually, Toucan Sam took on an English accent and at that point, Paul Frees began provided his voice. Paul was no stranger to voice-over work either, having been a narrator for years in many Disney films and also attractions at Disneyland. He is the “Ghost Host” of the Haunted Mansion, the voice behind Adventures Through Inner Space and the always-animated auctioneer in the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. He can also be heard as Boris Badenov and the ape in George of the Jungle, as well as many other Jay Ward Productions characters. The list truly goes on and on.
Upon his passing in 1986, the voice of Toucan was given to Maurice LaMarche, another voice-over heavyweight who has lent his talents to Duckman, Inspector Gadget, King of the Hill, The Simpsons and Futurama. It’s quite astounding to consider the collective number of cartoons voiced by the men who helped Toucan Sam speak. Kellogg’s obviously didn’t skimp on talent.
And no matter how Sam sounded, it was never really his voice that was important anyway. It was that sensitive sniffer, able to detect a bounty of little colorful loops with pinpoint accuracy. When he said “follow” – you followed. Bowl, spoon and appetite ready for business.
If you have any memories of Toucan Sam you would like to share, we always welcome them in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this breakfast cereal icon who always said hello on the Saturday mornings of our youth.