This week’s minorities in cartoons entry is Mary Melody, a minor character who appeared on the early 90s TV series “Tiny Toon Adventures.”
“Tiny Toons,” the first modern TV cartoon produced by Warner Bros. (in conjunction with Amblin Entertainment of Steven Spielberg fame), focused on the adventures of a group of adolescent characters resembling (but not related to) the original Looney Tunes characters. The characters attended “Acme Looniversity,” a high school/university institution where the Looney Tunes themselves were the faculty (Pete Puma as the janitor, Bugs the principal, Granny as the school nurse/secretary/also a teacher, etc.). There, the Looney Tunes taught the kids on the finer points of how to be a funny cartoon character, with courses such as “Wild Takes” (Bugs taught the beginner course; Daffy, the advanced course), “Class Clowning,” and painting tunnels on the side of walls (taught by Wile E. Coyote). One episode also featured a class on how to make an animated cartoon, complete with Porky, Bugs, and Daffy forced to watch the students’ utterly awful animation attempts at a student film festival. The show took place in the fictional city of “Acme Acres” (where the Tiny Toons and Looney Tunes characters lived), but could (and did) take the show’s stars anywhere in the world. The show’s stars were Buster Bunny (a smooth-talking, blue-furred boy rabbit) and Babs Bunny (a more manic-behaving, celebrity-impersonating pink-furred girl rabbit)—”no relation,” as their catchphrase went.
Mary Melody was the series’ one non-villainous recurring human character. The other two human characters were obnoxious spoiled rich brat Montana Max (who had Yosemite Sam’s temperament) and dimwitted animal lover/abuser Elmyra Duff (loosely based on Elmer Fudd). Mary was presented as a friendly character toward the others, and also attended Acme Looniversity, though generally wasn’t subject to the same slapstick that befell her costars. Mary’s also one of the few “Tiny Toons” characters who didn’t have a Looney Tunes counterpart (though a few people online apparently have tried to compare Mary to some stereotypical Black character from a now-little-seen Looney Tunes short). Her name, however, is a reference to “Merry Melodies,” the companion series to “Looney Tunes.”
Aside from this, Mary didn’t get used for anything other than as an occasional supporting character. Mary’s most prominent role was in the short “Cross-Country Kitty,” where Mary’s shown as the owner of Sweetie (a female variant of Tweety) and, in this short, Furrball (similar to Sylvester’s non-speaking character in some shorts, but with even worse luck). In this short, Mary gets tired of seeing Furrball trying to eat Sweetie, so takes him on a vacation on the other side of the country. Unfortunately for her, Furrball keeps heading back to Acme Acres behind her back (using ludicrously-fast airplane rides and other travel means) to try to take shots at eating Sweetie, which inevitably fail (best parts: Sweetie feeding Furrball a full box of the insects she was having for lunch, plus several of Furrball’s more ludicrous cross-country travel attempts).
Mary also appears in other episodes, sometimes to comment on her minor role—”another cameo, another paycheck,” she notes in a Robin Hood parody where she’s one of the “Merry Men.” In the episode “Prom-ise Her Anything,” Mary is shown covering the school’s prom preparations for a TV broadcast; she also shows up later with her own prom date (a one-shot, non-speaking human African-American youth).
Mary was voiced by Cree Summer (who also voiced Elmyra) in all of her appearances save the above short “Cross-Country Kitty”; there, she was voiced by Cindy McGee (who apparently has had few or no roles since “Tiny Toons” per IMDB).