A Wally Walrus model sheet c. 1945. Courtesy of Kevin Langley. Click to enlarge.
Walter Lantz had a knack for coming up with unique ideas for the type of animals his studio would develop into animated stars. His use of a panda, a woodpecker, and a penguin set him apart from the other cartoon studios. Turning a walrus into a star was no exception. Wally Walrus, a big, slow-witted walrus with a Swedish accent, first appeared in 1944's The Beach Nut. It would be the first of his many encounters with a certain red-headed woodpecker. Wally made a perfect foil for Woody's wackiness and was often cast in the role of the dopey cop or landlord who would get heckled by the bird. Some plots also involve a hungry Woody finding new ways to swipe food out from under Wally's nose.
A sketch of Wally from Kiddie Koncert (1948). Courtesy of Ted Watts. Click to enlarge.
The character was well received by audiences and was used outside of the Woody Woodpecker series. Wally conducted an orchestra of comical animals in two entries in Lantz's "Musical Miniature" series (The Overture of William Tell and Kiddie Koncert). Wally was also appropriately cast as the dog catcher in one of the best Andy Panda cartoons, Dog Tax Dodgers (1948). In this short, Andy attempts to avoid paying the dog tax and tries to keep his hound, Dizzy, hidden from the suspicious walrus.
Wally was a regular in the Lantz cartoons for about nine years. After a brief appearance in Operation Sawdust (1953), the character was retired from the Woody Woodpecker series. The character would continue to be used in comic books, storybooks, records, and merchandise. The storymen at the studio were finding new adversaries, such as Buzz Buzzard, for Woody to tangle with. After a lengthy hiatus, Wally reappeared in animated form in 1961. He had a short come-back in two cartoons in the Chilly Willy series, including the memorable Clash and Carry. Pairing the walrus with the penguin seemed like a logical choice, but the team-up didn't last long. Chilly soon went back to co-starring with Smedley and Wally went back into retirement.
Today, Wally remains one of Lantz's most well-remembered creations thanks to his numerous appearances in some of best theatrical cartoon shorts. Wally was also revived as a major character on the New Woody Woodpecker Show in 1999.
: The Beach Nut, Ski for Two
: Chew-Chew Baby, The Dippy Diplomat
: Bathing Buddies, The Reckless Driver
: Smoked Hams, The Overture to William Tell, Well Oiled
: The Mad Hatter, Banquet Busters, Kiddie Koncert, Wacky-Bye Baby, Dog Tax Dodgers
: Sleep Happy, Slingshot 6 7/8, The Woody Woodpecker Polka
: Stage Hoax
: What's Sweepin', Buccaneer Woodpecker, Operation Sawdust
: Clash and Carry, Tricky Trout