Chilly Willy is a cartoon character created by the Walter Lantz Studio. He is a penguin whose original motivation consisted of a desire to find warmth, unable to stand the cold. He had a precursor in Pablo, the Cold-Blooded Penguin, a character with identical motivation. Pablo starred in a segment of The Three Caballeros (1944) but was a one-shot character. Animation buffs Giannalberto Bendazzi and Don Markstein dismissed Chilly as a mere Clone of Pablo, but it is unclear whether Lantz was familiar with the earlier character. The idea of a penguin protagonist was reportedly suggested to him by mystery writer Stuart Palmer (1905-1968).
Chilly debuted in the animated short Chilly Willy (1953), directed by Paul J. Smith. In said cartoon, Chilly tries to sneak onboard a polar schooner to get access to its stove. The ship's mascot, a Saint Bernard dog, has been specifically instructed to let nobody aboard. Their conflicting interests result in some comedic episodes until Chilly gets the dog drunk. The short ends with the former mascot thrown into the brig and Chilly assigned as his replacement. While adequately funny, the short was not particularly successful.
The following year, Lantz assigned another director to the character: Tex Avery, who was asked to make the character work. Avery felt that the problem was Chilly being overly cute; a "little fuzzy wuzzy penguin" was not inherently funny. He resolved to have Chilly's opponents being the funny ones. Avery directed only two Chilly shorts: I'm Cold (1954) and The Legend of Rockabye Point (1955). The former had Chilly attempting to steal a fur coat from an Alaska fur factory. He has to face the watchdog, Smedley, in his first appearance. Smedley has a Southern drawl, and a deadpan style of delivering lines. The latter short had Chilly and a polar bear compete in stealing fish from aboard a fishing ship. The bear constantly has to face the teeth of an aggressive bulldog who falls asleep whenever he hears lullabies. Both shorts were considerably funnier than their predecessor.
"Rockabye Point" was the most successful film of the series, because the script-writer was veteran Looney Tunes storyman Michael Maltese. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Animated Short Film, though it lost to "Speedy Gonzales" (1955), a Merrie Melodies entry starring Speedy Gonzales and Sylvester the Cat. Lantz had reasons to continue the series. Avery was replaced by Alex Lovy, who continued the series in an Avery-like format for most of the 1950s. When Lovy left the Lantz studio, Chilly was handled by other directors, such as Jack Hannah and Sid Marcus, before eventually coming full circle and having Paul J. Smith take over as the sole director in 1967. The series ended with its 50th cartoon short in 1972, but only because the studio itself shut down its operations.
Chilly was revived in episodes of "The New Woody Woodpecker Show" (1999-2002) but did not return to prominence. The character was an also-ran in the comic book medium. He headlined nine issues from Dell Comics between 1956 and 1962, otherwise only receiving stories in the back pages of magazines featuring Woody Woodpecker as their main star.
Not to be confused with Chill Wills.
- Chilly Willy, directed by Paul J. Smith.
- I'm Cold, directed by Tex Avery. Smedley's first appearance.
- The Legend of Rockabye Point, directed by Tex Avery.
- Hot and Cold Penguin, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Room and Wrath, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Hold That Rock, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Operation Cold Feet, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- The Big Snooze, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Swiss Miss-Fit, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Polar Pest, directed by Alex Lovy.
- A Chilly Reception, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Little Televillain, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Robinson Gruesome, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley.
- Yukon Have It, directed by Alex Lovy. Co-starring Smedley and Woody Woodpecker foe Dapper Denver Dooley (as "Caribou Lou").
- Fish Hooked, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Clash and Carry, directed by Jack Hannah. Co-starring Woody Woodpecker foe, Wally Walrus.
- St. Moritz Blitz, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Tricky Trout, directed by Jack Hannah. Wally Walrus' final appearance in a Walter Lantz cartune.
- Mackerel Moocher, directed by Jack Hannah.
- Fish and Chips, directed by Jack Hannah. Co-starring Smedley.
- Salmon Loafer, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Pesky Pelican, directed by Sid Marcus.
- Deep-Freeze Squeeze, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Lighthouse-Keeping Blues, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Ski-Napper, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Fractured Friendship, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Half Baked Alaska, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Pesty Guest, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Snow Place Like Home, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- South Pole Pals, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Polar Fright, directed by Paul J. Smith. Maxie the Polar Bear's debut.
- Teeny Weeny Meany, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Operation Shanghai, directed by Sid Marcus. Co-starring Smedley.
- Vicious Viking, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Hot Time on Ice, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Chilly And The Woodchopper, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Chilly Chums, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie. Woody Woodpecker makes a cameo.
- Under Sea Dogs, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie.
- Highway Hecklers, directed by Paul J. Smith. Colonel Pot Shot's debut.
- Chiller Dillers, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie.
- Project Reject, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley.
- Chilly and the Looney Gooney, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Colonel Pot Shot and Looney Gooney's debut.
- Sleepy Time Bear, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie.
- Gooney's Goofy Landings, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie and Looney Gooney.
- Chilly's Ice Folly, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Maxie.
- Chilly's Cold War, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley and Colonel Pot Shot.
- A Gooney is Born, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Looney Gooney and Colonel Pot Shot.
- Airlift A La Carte, directed by Paul J. Smith. The only time Smedley, Maxie, and Looney Gooney all appear together in the same cartoon
- Chilly's Hide-A-Way, directed by Paul J. Smith. Co-starring Smedley and Colonel Pot Shot.
- The Rude Intruder, directed by Paul J. Smith. Final Chilly Willy cartoon. Co-starring Maxie.
Tropes Related to the Original Theatrical Cartoons:
- Angry Guard Dog: Mostly averted. Smedley is essentially a guard dog in most of his roles. He is rarely actually angry, mostly calm and determined.
- Played straight in "The Legend of Rockabye Point", however.
- Bad Boss: Smedley tends to have a different boss in each episode. But they all have common points in being verbally abusive to him, several were physically abusive, and Colonel Pot Shot seemed eager to shoot at his employee. A common joke of the series is that Smedley is trying to rationalize and excuse their behavior.
- Beary Funny: Maxie the Polar Bear is cute and funny, rather than a large predator.
- Bully Bulldog: The guard dog in "The Legend of Rockabye Point".
- Captain Obvious: Smedley tended to do this a lot. His first appearance has him react to Chilly's theft of a fox fur right in front of him with "I think that was a fur thief" and to Chilly's repeated attempts to steal his tail with "He's got my tail" and "He's got my tail again".
- Everything's Better with Penguins: For obvious reasons.
- As noted above, some believe Chilly to be based on Pablo from The Three Caballeros. Whether this was conscious or not is debatable, and the evidence is purely circumstancial.
- Smedley is based on a wolf character Avery developed at MGM, debuting in the Droopy short "The Three Little Pups", who had a Southern Drawl and a calm demeanor. The same character was also the inspiration for Huckleberry Hound. All three characters were voiced by Daws Butler.
- Flat Character: Chilly looks cute, but he has very little in the way of personality. Tex Avery cited this as a flaw of the series, hence why he decided to focus more on Chilly's antagonists in his two shorts.
- Freeze Sneeze: Happens to Willy in his first appearance, and presumbably several of the subsequent ones.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In "I'm Cold", chilly lives in a village called "Colder'nell" - meaning "colder than hell". At the time, The Hays Code was under effect, which would not have allowed the word "hell". Tex Avery, who directed, had previously dodged the radar with a town named "Coldernell" in his short The Shooting of Dan McGoo.
- Great White Hunter: Colonel Pot Shot. He has a vast collection of stuffed animals, each a trophy from a previous hunting expedition.
- Growling Gut: Featured prominently in Deep-Freeze Squeeze, and experienced by both Chilly Willy and Smedley Dog. As an indication that the characters are starving.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Colonel Pot Shot. With the name of the trope specifically mentioned in his description.
- Ironic Fear: Toyed with. Chilly hates the cold, and is always in fear of freezing to death. He is a penguin.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Chilly is a penguin in Alaska.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: The bulldog from The Legend of Rockabye Point. Also Smedley when yawning in I'm Cold.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: The plot of "The Legend of Rock-a-bye Point" concerns a polar bear trying to get fish from a fishing boat, getting the Angry Guard Dog off his back by putting him to sleep with a lullaby, while Chilly sabotages him at every turn.
- Polar Bears and Penguins: Chilly's opponent from The Legend of Rockabye Point is a polar bear. Later shorts introduced Chilli's best friend, Maxie the Polar Bear.
- Rogues-Gallery Transplant: Wally Walrus, normally a Woody Woodpecker foe, showed up in the 1961 shorts "Tricky Trout" and "Clash and Carry"- odd, considering he hadn't shown up in a short since 1953!
- Script Swap: In "The Legend of Rockabye Point", Chilly puts a clarinet on the sleeping guard dog's mouth, causing it to make noise as he snores and waking him up. The polar bear gets him back to sleep by pulling out the sheet music for "Rock-a-Bye, Baby" and playing it on the clarinet. Chilly then switches the sheet with one for circus music, waking the dog up again.
- Stock Animal Diet: When Chilly is after food instead of warmth, the food tends to be fish.
- The Voiceless: Chilly has a voice in his original appearance, but he is completely silent in the two shorts by Tex Avery. In subsequent shorts, Chilly would either have regular conversations or stay silent for the duration.