Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character who was created in 1940 by Leon Schlesinger Productions and voiced originally by Mel Blanc, the “Man of a Thousand Voices”.
Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character, best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of theatrical short films produced by Warner Bros. during the Golden Age of American Animation. His popularity during this era led to his becoming an American cultural icon, as well as a corporate mascot of the Warner Bros. company.
Last appearance: A Wild Hare
Significant other: Lola Bunny
Creators: Ben Hardaway, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Robert McKimson
Original voice: Mel Blanc
Species: Rabbit, Hare
History of Bugs Bunny
It is unclear who actually created Bugs Bunny. His first movie role was in a film directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway called Porky’s Hare Hunt in 1938. Of course, the Bugs Bunny of that day looked quite a bit different than our Bugs of today, and also hadn’t quite developed that personality that we love so much.
Tex Avery and Mel Blanc, director and voice, teamed up for the 1940 movie, “A Wild Hare” Blanc said that Bugs’ voice was a perfect blend of the Bronx and Brooklyn. Avery patterned some of Bug’s characteristics from Groucho Marx. Bugs’ would often use the Marx phrase, “Of course you know, dis means war.”
Bugs Bunny quickly became the face of Warner Brothers Cartoons. During World War II he started in several cartoon films, depicting him against such enemies as the Japanese in the film “Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips.” Since his creation, Bugs Bunny has appeared in over 150 cartoons.
Not only has Bugs Bunny appeared in cartoons, but he has also appeared in three feature films, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Space Jam, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
General Information about Bugs Bunny
Wabbit Rabbit Hood Super Rabbit Bugs Silly Rabbit Silly Wabbit Wascally Wabbit Bag Banny Happy Rabbit
|First Appearance||Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics #1|
|Appears in||1553 issues|
July 27, 1940
The Birth of the Bugs
Unlike most other cartoon superstars, the creation of Bugs was not just the vision of one man or even a handful of men. Bugs owe his development as a superstar to more than a dozen talented animators, designers, writers, and directors.
The spark behind the Oscar-winning rabbit can be traced as far back as the African folk tales which recounted the adventures of a trickster rabbit. The point of these various stories was that a smaller animal through its quickness of mind and body could get the better of larger, more physically powerful and dangerous animals. This trickster rabbit, like Bugs, is a mischief-maker with a good sense of humor. Usually, he only caused problems when his well-being was threatened.
It was not surprising that such a character would hold a special appeal for the slaves brought from Africa and placed in a situation where only their swiftness of wit could save them from the cruelties of their new masters. Supposedly, these stories of a trickster rabbit eventually evolved into Uncle Remus’ more famous tales of Brer Rabbit.
In terms of animation, some writers have suggested that the immediate inspiration for Bugs Bunny was Max Hare in the Disney cartoon short THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE (1934). However, that brash, cocky character bears little relation to the smaller, wackier bunny who eventually became Bugs Bunny.
The earliest version of Bugs Bunny appeared in Warners’ PORKY’S HARE HUNT (1938) directed by Ben Hardaway and written by Howard Baldwin. Hardaway’s nickname was “Bugs” and the model sheet identified the rabbit as “Bug’s bunny.” Two years later, when it became necessary to name the rabbit, “Bug’s bunny” became Bugs Bunny (minus the possessive apostrophe). Hardaway had a particular inclination for wacky characters, having been involved with the early Daffy Duck and later with the first Woody Woodpecker.
PORKY’S HARE HUNT is similar in spirit to Tex Avery’s PORKY’S DUCK HUNT made the previous year which introduced the character of Daffy Duck. This time, instead of a darn fool duck, Porky the hunter is confronted with a pixilated rabbit. The unnamed hare is as physically and vocally insane as the early Daffy Duck. Some of the classic Bugs Bunny character elements appear in this cartoon, including his ability to do magic, to perform histrionic death scenes and the phrase “Of course you know, this means war!”
Other versions of this little white bunny appeared again in 1939. PRESTO CHANGE-O, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Rich Hogan, had him tease a dog using a magician’s tricks. HARE- UM SCARE-UM, directed by Hardaway and written by Melvin Millar, found him heckling a hunter who was trying to beat the high cost of meat. However, the character was still too goofy and annoying to be considered a potential star.
It was 1940 that really defined the character and established the basic personality that would launch the character to stardom. First, there was ELMER’S CANDID CAMERA, directed by Chuck Jones and written by Rich Hogan. This cartoon established the relationship between Bugs and Elmer Fudd that would provide the springboard for many memorable cartoons.
More important was Bugs’ second appearance in 1940. Tex Avery took all the good elements from the previous versions and mixed them with his own unique humor to “create” the character most people would recognize as Bugs Bunny. He and writer Rich Hogan made the rabbit smarter and more in control of himself and the situation in A WILD HARE. One particular item that marks this cartoon as a true beginning of Bugs is the inclusion of the famous line, “What’s up, Doc?” It was a phrase that was very popular at the Texas high school Avery had attended.
Creation of Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is a cartoon character created in 1938 at Leon Schlesinger Productions which you now know as Warner Bros. Cartoons. He was created on July 27, 1940, in Brooklyn.
Bugs Bunny was partially inspired by Clark Gable. In his, Academy-Award winning performance in ‘In Happened One Night’ (1941), Peter Warne, played by Gable is seen biting pieces off a carrot more quickly than he could swallow it.
Creator Quotes about Bugs
“Now in his 50th year, Bugs with a Bronx-Brooklyn accent is probably the cartoon character who works best with dialogue — as seen in the three cartoons in which Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer Fudd argue over whether it is rabbit season or duck season.” – Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets
“Bugs is self-assured, nonchalant, imperturbable, contemplative… and above all… a very ‘aware’ character.” – Bob Clampett, Bugs’ director
“Bugs is someone who I minding his own business, and then somebody comes along and tries to disturb him, hurt him, destroy him. When he fights back, he becomes an anarchist, rather like Groucho Marx.” – Chuck Jones, Bugs’ director
“I’ve always felt that what you did with a character was even more important than the character itself. Bugs Bunny could have been a bird.” – Tex Avery, Bugs’ director
“One of the strengths of Bugs Bunny is that, like all we humans, he has varying ‘moods.’ At one time he is at peace with the world and slows to react to an invasion of his privacy. At another time, he is in a playful and mischievous mood, full of practical jokes. At other times he is irritable, bugged by the claim that a tortoise can beat a hare.” – Bob Clampett, Bugs’ director
“In the very first one was ‘Eh, what’s up, Doc?’ and gee, it floored (the audience)! They expected the rabbit to scream, or anything but make a casual remark – here’s a guy with a gun in his face!” – Tex Avery, Bugs’ director
“Bugs is a counterrevolutionary, you know. He’s not a revolutionary. He’s not a Woody Woodpecker.” – Chuck Jones, Bugs’ director.
“Bugs Bunny has been loved for over a quarter of a century now, but he has never been loved the way he was during those (WWII) war years.” – Bob Clampett (1969), Bugs’ director
“I’d suspect that Friz’s Bugs would be more of a scamp, and Tex Avery’s more a controlled lunatic, a brilliant controlled lunatic. Bob Clampett’s was a thoroughly amoral lunatic with flashes of greatness.” – Chuck Jones, Bugs’ director
“Bugs is not funny by himself. He really is not funny. … He’s kind of a straight man. But he gets all the credit. He can’t even create his own situations. You have to create one for him.” – Friz Freleng, Bugs’ director
Awards and Recognition
He was the first cartoon character to ever appear on a US postage stamp, beating out Mickey Mouse whom he met in the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bugs have also appeared in several video games.
Because of his remarkable career, Bugs Bunny was named the top cartoon character of all time by TV Guide in 2002. The editor of TV Guide had this to say, “His stock has never gone down. Bugs are the best example of the smart-aleck American comic. He not only is a great cartoon character, he’s a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops.
Today there are a couple of Bugs Bunny spin-offs. In Baby Looney Tunes a younger model of Bugs Bunny is the main character. In 2002, Warner Brothers released a series called Loonatics Unleashed, in which one of the main characters is Ace Bunny, a rather modernized superhero spin-off of Bugs Bunny. Nearly 70 years after his creation many Bugs Bunny cartoons are still shown today.
World War II
During World War II Bugs Bunny’s popularity got even greater. By 1943 Warner Bros. had become the most profitable cartoon studio in the United Stated. Warner Bros. put its characters against Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and the Japanese. In the 1944 film “Bugs Bunny Nips, the Nips” shows Bugs at odds with a bunch of Japanese soldiers. This has been pulled from distribution because of its racial stereotyping of the Japanese. He also faces Adolf Hitler and Herman Goring in in 1945 short “Herr Mears Hare”. In the U.S war bonds commercials, Bugs Bunny would appear in them along with Elmer Fudd and Porky Pig.
In 1943 Bugs appeared in the short film “Super-Rabbit” where he is wearing a Blue U.S Marine Core uniform. The Marine made Bugs Bunny an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.
Facts About Bugs Bunny
- Bugs Bunny is a rabbit, not a hare.
- Mel Blanc actually ate carrots while voicing the iconic character.
- Bugs Bunny was originally “Happy Rabbit”. He also used to be white instead of gray and they alternated between giving him huge buck teeth and no teeth at all.
- Bugs Bunny, along with Mickey Mouse, were the first two animals to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- Bugs Bunny is a U.S. Marine. At the end of the 1943 short Super-Rabbit, Bugs wears a USMC blue uniform. As a result, they made Bugs an honorary private of the corps. Throughout WWII, Bugs continued to be promoted in rank until he retired as a Master Sergeant.
- Bugs’ name came from his animator. In 1938, Ben “Bugs” Hardaway was redesigning a new rabbit character. A fellow employee casually referred to the drawing as “Bug’s Bunny” (which was written above the illustration) and the name stuck ever since.
- Bugs Bunny was the first cartoon character to ever appear on a stamp.
- Bugs Bunny’s carrot-chewing stance came from ‘It Happened One Night. There is a scene with Clark Gable leaning against a fence and eating carrots while talking with his mouth full.
- Charlie Chaplin inspired Bugs Bunny’s personality.
- As of Jan. 2013, he has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character. More than 175 films, to be exact.
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