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Cartoon comebacks

July 22, 2007|Susan King

Animated heroes: Two legendary cartoon superheroes, Underdog and Woody Woodpecker, go digital Tuesday.

Cackling Woody Woodpecker, created by Walter Lantz, made his first appearance in the 1940 animated short "Knock Knock." Over the decades, he's headlined 200 shorts, received eight Academy Award nominations -- even the hit "The Woody Woodpecker Song" from 1948's "Wet Blanket Policy" was nominated for best original song -- and become the mascot for the Universal Studio theme parks. "The Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection" features 75 digitally remastered and uncut cartoons starring the famous bird along with his friends Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, Wally Walrus and Buzz Buzzard.

With the live-action "Underdog" set for release Aug. 3, fans of the superhero pooch can relive the original in "The Ultimate Underdog DVD Collection Volumes 1-3."

Each volume features six digitally remastered episodes from the beloved 1960s-70s cartoon series starring the voice of the late, great Wally Cox, who had come to fame in the early 1950s as the meek teacher "Mr. Peepers" and was a regular on "Hollywood Squares." Cox not only supplied the voice of the "pup-of-steel"-- "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here" -- but also his mild-mannered human alter ego, Shoeshine Boy.

Created by Joe Harris, "Underdog" also featured ace news reporter Sweet Polly Purebred -- Marilyn Monroe was the inspiration for the character -- the evil scientist Simon Bar Sinister and underworld boss Riff Raff. Not only has Underdog remained a popular float in the Macy's Day Parade, but he also holds the distinction of being the first Saturday morning cartoon character to be a New Yorker magazine cover.

-- Susan King

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