When Bill Thompson left MGM circa 1955, Don Messick took over voicing work for the cartoon Droopy.
Don had his own radio show at the age of 15.
Don was performing a ventriloquist act at the age of 13 for audiences in rural areas of the Eastern Shore with aid of his dummy, Kentworth DeFrost.
Don's father was accidentally killed on the job just as Don's radio career was starting.
Don Messick and Daws Butler did the voices for the first animated series for Hanna Barbara for television called Ruff and Reddy.
On October 12, 1996, Joe Barbara put together a retirement party for the ailing Don Messick and even though Don could not make complete sentences and his voice was slurred by the stroke that he had, he could still do Scooby Doo and used Scooby's voice to talk for that evening.
Don could and would often do several characters on a show could switch back and forth between characters so well that he often made people think that there was someone else with him acting out a part when it was actually Don doing all the parts himself.
After Don got out of the Army in 1947, he started making the rounds and performing at radio stations in Los Angeles, CA area. This is when he ran into future best friend and partner in cartoon voice overs, Daws Butler, who was doing the same thing after getting out of the Navy.
Don was born in the ambulance in 1926 as they were taking his mother to the hospital.
While Don was in his twenties, he toured the country with a talent show called the Horace Height Show.
Don was drafted into the army in 1944 and because of his talent, he performed his ventriloquist act for the troops here in the states.
Don grew up being a fan of radio shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny, and later The Great Gildersleeve.
At one point in Don's childhood, his family moved to a house with no electricity and Don had to do his homework by lamplight.
When Don passed away, he was cremated and his ashes were scattered at the Point Lobos State Reserve in California.
Don suffered a stroke in 1996 while recording voices at a cartoon studio. It's been said that Don turned pale, looked over at the director and said, "I can't do this anymore," then stumbled out to his car and drove home. A week later, Don's agent told them that he had retired
Shortly before his death, at a charity speaking engagement in London, Don performed as many of his characters, except Scooby Doo which he explained that giving up smoking had robbed him of the rasp in the voice that he needed for the character.
Daws Butler and Don Messick were partnered together in several cartoons for MGM and Warner Brothers.
Don was a prominent voice actor from the early 1960's until his death in 1997.
Don was the voice of one of the Fresh Guys (Wonderbread loafs) on the Wonderbread commercial back in the 1960's.
Don's big break came in the mid-1940s when at MGM, Tex Avery was producing the Droopy Dog cartoons, the regular voice actor, radio actor Bill Thompson, was not available. Daws Butler, who voiced characters for MGM, suggested that Tex seek out Don Messick, and so, Don was hired to voice Droopy.
Don provided the voices for Papa Smurf, Scooby-Doo, and Scrappy-Doo in the 1984 public service show, Strong Kids, Safe Kids.
Don was a writer on the 1959 TV series, Matty's Funday Funnies.
Don was mentioned in Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song.
Don originally wanted to be a ventriloquist and even supported himself as one for a time.
Don: I never had mike fright. I was always fond of performing at the microphone and in front of a live audience, too.
Don: In the earlier days of limited animation, because of that process, Joe (Barbara) and Bill (Hanna) wanted to depend heavily on the voice of the character to bring it to life because the animation was so restricted. That's where Daws (Butler) and I shined, I guess you might say. That's the reason that those characters developed with such realism and warmth. They have a genuine charm to them despite the limited backgrounds and so forth. The concentration was on the characters, their spoken personalities.
Don: Ventriloquism got me started doing different voices... I never did impersonations. I just developed my own characters, having discovered the versatility of my vocal cords.
Don: I've always been very grateful to people such as Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera and Daws Butler. There have been so many people I've enjoyed working for and with. I've been fortunate.