Before Gervais got animated, there was Benny
Yesterday as I was getting ready to Tivo the Ricky Gervais episode of The Simpsons, I started to think about whether something like this had been done before, where an actor not associated with a cartoon was brought in to contribute to an episode. While I'm sure there's many, the only one I could think of was the Looney Tunes' short "The Mouse That Jack Built" which featured Jack Benny and his fellow stars from his famous radio and television program playing themselves as mice. The result was a hilarious short about Jack and his friends going out to eat at the Kit Kat Club, which turns out to be an actual cat. In the end, we're treated to a live-action shot of the real Jack Benny waking up from his nightmare, only to see the two mice from his dream crawl from his cat's mouth and scurry into a mousehole. Benny didn't write the episode, but by bringing in new voice actors with a more cerebral and less "cartoony" approach to humor, it resulted in one of the more unique Warner Bros. animated shorts when mixed with the slapstick and sadism for which these cartoons had become famous. Also, it should be noted that Mel Blanc, who voiced ninety-nine percent of the Looney Tunes characters, was also a regular on the Jack Benny Program, so maybe ol' Jack didn't need much convincing to appear in animated form. Rumor has it he asked for no money, just a copy of the cartoon. Oh yeah, and just to bring it full circle, the foppish shop owner on The Simpsons who says, "Yeeeeeesss???" is based on a character on Jack Benny's show. It's like a big ol' Mobius strip o' comedy.
So, my fellow cartoon-lovin' peeps, can you think of any other cartoons to turn themselves over to "new management" if only for one episode?