82 Years Of Bugs Bunny

Good morning you wonderful lot, hope everyone’s doing alright. I wish I could say I am, but I was supposed to go and see the Muscular Skeletal (MSK) doctor yesterday to have my wrist and foot looked at, and unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the appointment due to having a high temperature and showing symptoms of Covid (I have not been tested, so can not confirm whether or not I am positive) but we rang the surgery and explained the situation, and they advised it would probably be best to stay at home as a precaution and told me I can change my appointment online for another day, which luckily was easy to do and is now booked in for about a months time! So for now, (whilst being stuck indoors for the next week or so) I will be using this time as a chance to get ahead of my blog and hopefully get a few week’s worth of posts scheduled, whilst most likely watching old cartoons/animated films, as they are one of my go-to’s for when I’m unwell, as I’m sure it is for quite a lot of people! Speaking of which…

Bugs Bunny is probably most people’s favorite Looney Tunes character. He is a smart-talking rabbit who lives life by passing funny comments on the people he meets. Some of the dialogues spoken by the character in the cartoon are still famous even to this day. The animated cartoon character has been around since the early ’30s, hence both young and older generations are very familiar with most of his traits, storylines, and tricks. However, the lengthy existence means there’s a wealth of information about Bugs Bunny, some of which might be easy for even the staunchest fans to miss.

Development:

A prototype Bugs rabbit with some of the personality of a finalized Bugs, though looking very different, was originally featured in the film Porky’s Hare Hunt, released on April 30, 1938. It was co-directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway and an uncredited director Cal Dalton (who was responsible for the initial design of the rabbit). The white rabbit had an oval head and a shapeless body. In characterization, he was “a rural buffoon”. The rabbit character was popular enough with audiences that the Termite Terrace staff decided to use it again. The rabbit comes back in Prest-O Change-O (1939), directed by Chuck Jones, where he is the pet rabbit of the unseen character Sham-Fu the Magician. This version of the rabbit was cool, graceful, and controlled. The rabbit’s third appearance comes in Hare-um Scare-um (1939), This cartoon—the first in which he is depicted as a gray bunny instead of a white one—is also notable as the rabbit’s first singing role. Charlie Thorson, the lead animator on the film, gave the character a name. He had written “Bug’s Bunny” on the model sheet that he drew for Hardaway. Thorson had been approached by Tedd Pierce, head of the story department, and asked to design a better rabbit. The decision was influenced by Thorson’s experience in designing hares. He designed Max Hare in Toby Tortoise Returns (Disney, 1936).

While Porky’s Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a prototype of Bugs Bunny, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery character designed by Bob Givensand released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon. It is the first film where both Elmer Fudd and Bugs, both redesigned by Bob Givens, are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor, respectively; the first in which Mel Blanc uses what became Bugs’ standard voice; and the first in which Bugs uses his catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?” For the film, Avery asked Givens to remodel the rabbit. The result had a closer resemblance to Max Hare. He had a more elongated body, stood more erect, and looked more poised. Blanc gave Bugs the voice of a city slicker. The second full-fledged role for the mature Bugs, Chuck Jones’ Elmer’s Pet Rabbit (1941), is the first to use Bugs’ name on-screen: it appears in a title card, “featuring Bugs Bunny,” at the start of the film. However, his design was slightly altered; Bugs’ visual design is based on the prototype rabbit in Candid Camera, but with yellow gloves and no buck teeth. After Pet Rabbit, however, subsequent Bug’s appearances returned to normal: the Wild Hare visual design and personality returned, and Blanc re-used the Wild Hare voice characterization.

World War II:

By 1942, Bugs had become the number one star of Merrie Melodies. The series was originally intended only for one-shot characters in films after several early attempts to introduce characters failed under Harman–Ising. By the mid-1930s, under Leon Schlesinger, Merrie Melodies started introducing newer characters. The character was reworked by Robert McKimson. with a slight redesign of Bugs, with less-prominent front teeth and a rounder head. in 1943 another version, with more slanted eyes, longer teeth and a much larger mouth was created. Bugs’ popularity soared during World War II because of his free and easy attitude, and he began receiving special star billing in his cartoons by 1943. By that time, Warner Bros. had become the most profitable cartoon studio in the United States. At the end of Super-Rabbit (1943), Bugs appears wearing a United States Marine Corps dress blue uniform. As a result, the Marine Corps made Bugs an honorary Marine master sergeant. From 1943 to 1946, Bugs was the official mascot of Kingman Army Airfield, Kingman, Arizona, where thousands of aerial gunners were trained during World War II. Some notable trainees included Clark Gable and Charles Bronson. Bugs also served as the mascot for 530 Squadron of the 380th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force, U.S. Air Force, which was attached to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Later Years:

Bugs did not appear in any of the post-1964 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies films produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises or Seven Arts Productions, nor did he appear in Filmation’s Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies. Bugs returned to the silver screen in Box-Office Bunny (1991). This was the first Bugs Bunny cartoon since 1964 to be released in theaters and it was created for Bugs’ 50th anniversary celebration. In 1996, Bugs and the other Looney Tunes characters appeared in the live-action/animated film, Space Jam, directed by Joe Pytka and starring NBA superstar Michael Jordan. In 2011, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang returned to television in the Cartoon Network sitcom, The Looney Tunes Show. In 2015, Bugs starred in the direct-to-video film Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run, and later returned to television yet again as the star of Cartoon Network and Boomerang’s comedy series New Looney Tunes (formerly Wabbit). In 2020, Bugs began appearing on the HBO Max streaming series Looney Tunes Cartoons and also made his return to movie theaters in the 2021 Space Jam sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy, this time starring NBA superstar LeBron James.

Voice Actors:

Mel Blanc voiced the character for almost 50 years, from Bugs’ debut in the 1940 short A Wild Hare until Blanc’s death in 1989. Blanc described the voice as a combination of Bronx and Brooklyn accents; however, Tex Avery claimed that he asked Blanc to give the character not a New York accent per se, but a voice like that of actor Frank McHugh, who frequently appeared in supporting roles in the 1930s and whose voice might be described as New York Irish. In Bugs’ second cartoon Elmer’s Pet Rabbit, Blanc created a completely new voice for Bugs, which sounded like a Jimmy Stewart impression, but the directors decided the previous voice was better. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) would be one of the final productions in which Mel Blanc voiced Bugs (as well as the other Looney Tunes characters) before his death in 1989. He would then be voiced by the likes of; Keith Scott, Jeff Bergman, Greg Burson, Noel Blanc, Billy West, Joe Alaskey, Sam Vincent, and more recently Eric Bauza.

Legacy:

According to Guinness World Records, Bugs has appeared in more films (both short and feature-length) than any other cartoon character and is the ninth most portrayed film personality in the world (just behind Santa Claus). He also has been a pitchman for companies including Kool-Aid and Nike. His Nike commercials with Michael Jordan as “Hare Jordan” for the Air Jordan VII and VIII became precursors to Space Jam. As a result, he has spent time as an honorary member of Jordan Brand, including having Jordan’s Jumpman logo done in his image. In 2015, as part of the 30th anniversary of Jordan Brand, Nike released a mid-top Bugs Bunny version of the Air Jordan I, named the “Air Jordan Mid 1 Hare”, along with a women’s equivalent inspired by Lola Bunny called the “Air Jordan Mid 1 Lola”, along with a commercial featuring Bugs and Ahmad Rashad. In 2002, TV Guide compiled a list of the 50 greatest cartoon characters of all time as part of the magazine’s 50th anniversary. Bugs Bunny was given the honor of number 1. On July 31, 2002, the TV Guide editor explained why Bugs pulled top billing: “His stock…has never gone down…Bugs is the best example…of the smart-aleck American comic. He not only is a great cartoon character, but he’s also a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops.”

Bugs Bunny Facts

  • The first authorized Bugs Bunny cartoon, ‘A Wild Hare’ directed by Tex Avery and premiered on July 27, 1940, is usually regarded as the first authentic Bugs Bunny animation.
  • Even though Bugs debuted in A Wild Hare, he is most definitely not a hare. Hares have much longer ears than rabbits, so Bugs might seem to be of the hare family, yet rabbits live in burrows, as Bugs is seen to do. Many more of the cartoon titles include the word “hare” rather than “rabbit,” as “hare” lends itself easily to puns (“hair,” “air,” etc.).
  • Like Mickey Mouse for Disney, Bugs Bunny has served as the mascot for Warner Bros. and its various divisions. According to Guinness World Records, Bugs has appeared in more films (both short and feature-length) than any other cartoon character and is the ninth most portrayed film personality in the world.
  • Bugs was the first among all cartoon characters to be honored with a postage stamp in the United States, beating out Mickey Mouse.
  • His mannerisms were partially inspired by Clark Gable. Bugs’ nonchalant, carrot-eating manner was inspired by a scene in It Happened One Night, when the fast-talking Clark Gable snacks on carrots while leaning on a fence. The character also took inspiration from Groucho Marx.
  • As mentioned above, Bugs also took inspiration from Groucho Marx. Groucho Marx’s line, “Of course, you realize this means war!” was lifted straight from Hollywood and became a classic phrase for Bugs Bunny. He paid homage to Groucho in other ways, such as occasionally adopting his stooped walk or leering eyebrow-raising (in Hair-Raising Hare, for example) or sometimes with a direct impersonation (as in Slick Hare).
  • From December 1952 to December 1953, Western Publishing released 245 volumes of a Bugs Bunny comic book.
  • As one of the world’s most-portrayed film personalities, Bugs Bunny even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7007 Hollywood Blvd, listed on December 21, 1985.
  • Even though Bugs often mocks Daffy Duck he is his best friend and roommate. Many people love when Bugs and Daffy appear on screen together. Daffy serves as a foil to the character of Bugs. He is short-tempered but Bugs keeps his cool even in tense circumstances.
  • Lola Bunny is a Looney Tunes character who got introduced in Space Jam a 1996 film. She has tan fur and blonde hair. The character gets depicted as an independent female with athletic prowess. Bugs always get smitten with her when she appears on the screen.
  • Like many other animated characters, Bug Bunny has a distinct voice. Over 30 voice actors have voiced Bug Bunny over the years but Mel Blanc was the first and longest to do it (1940-1989).
  • Mel Blanc the voice actor truly ate carrots while voicing Bugs Bunny. Interestingly, there were rumors before that Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots. That rumor started around 1945 when Mel Blanc would only chew and spit out the carrots after the voice dubbing. But in contrast, the “Man of 1,000 Voices” does not have an allergy to carrots. Mel was not just a fan of vegetables.
  • Bugs Bunny helped to popularize the word “nimrod,” which he used to describe the less-than-impressive hunter, Elmer Fudd. Buggs always managed to evade the determined hunter, regularly humiliating him in the process. When Bugs would comment “What a Nimrod,” it actually meant something that went over most audiences’ heads. It was supposed to be a back-handed statement because, in the Book of Genesis, the great-grandson of Noah, named Nimrod, is described as being “a mighty hunter,” something Fudd was not. Audiences eventually assumed it meant someone who is slow or dim-witted, which is the definition most people use today.
  • According to the American animator and director, Tex Avery, Bug Bunny’s world’s most famous catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?” was a common expression in his home state of Texas. Thus, he did not think much of the phrase and simply suggested it. To his surprise, when Bugs Bunny first used the catchphrase, “What’s up, Doc?” it immediately created an enormous positive audience reaction.
  • Bugs Bunny has saved lives. In 1961, Blanc got in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for weeks. Eventually, a doctor tried to get the unresponsive patient to talk by asking him, “Bugs Bunny, how are you doing today?” Blanc responded in Bugs’ voice, “What’s up, Doc?” Later, the doctor would say of the incident, “It seemed like Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life.”
  • Bugs Bunny received the rank of honorary Marine master sergeant for his success in the short movie, Super-Rabbit in 1943. Honorary Marine is a title of appreciation that is given only to several people by the United States Marine Corps.
  • During World War II, Bugs Bunny appeared in several Snafu shorts where he instructed U.S. military troops about proper sanitation and keeping American secrets. The films were considered classified information and even the animators themselves weren’t allowed to see the final products.
  • Bug Bunny appears in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The movie is produced by Disney, hence Mickey Mouse is also featured. And in order for Warner Bros. to allow Bugs Bunny to be used, they demanded that he get equal screen time with Mickey. The inclusion of the two iconic characters in the same movie had a positive long-term impact on pop culture as it made rival studios realize they could work together for a common commercial goal. This has led to future partnerships between studios such as Sony and Marvel. Crossovers between DC and Marvel comics also came about.
  • Bugs Bunny continued to solidify its popularity in 1996 after teaming up with the legendary basketball player, Michael Jordan, in the movie Space Jam. The film has successfully featured a great live-action and animation. Despite several criticisms, Space Jam amassed more than $100 million globally. With its major box-office hit, thanks to Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan, Space Jam became the highest-grossing non-Disney animated film of its time and the first non-Disney animated film to accomplish that goal.
  • Bugs Bunny and some of the other Looney Tunes characters appear around theme parks, including the largest indoor theme park in the world: Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.

Bugs Bunny is a character who always stays in the minds of the people. He’s a quirky smart-mouthed rabbit that is always getting into trouble and has been a part of many people’s childhood. Here’s to the “wascally wabbit” himself, Happy Birthday Bugs!

Thank you for coming to my blog and reading today’s post,. Hopefully, you managed to find out some new things about Bugs that you never knew before. For now, though, I hope you all have a lovely week, and I will see you next Wednesday.

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