|First Appearance:|| Prototype: April 30, 1938
Porky's Hare Hunt
|Created by:|| Ben Hardaway, (Prototype)
Tex Avery, (Official) Bob Clampett, (Final)
|Voiced by:||Mel Blanc, (1940–1989)|
|Friends:||Lola Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Honey Bunny|
|Rivals:||Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Marvin the Martian, K-9, Witch Hazel, Taz, Daffy Duck, Rocky and Mugsy|
Bugs Bunny is a fictional main character who starred in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated films produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions, which became Warner Bros. Cartoons in 1944. Bugs starred in 163 shorts during the Golden Age of American animation, and made cameos in three others along with a few appearances in non-animated films. He is an anthropomorphic hare or rabbit.
According to Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare, he was born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York in a warren under Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In reality, he was created by many animators and staff, including Tex Avery, who directed A Wild Hare, Bugs' debut role, and Robert McKimson, who created the definitive Bugs Bunny character design. According to Mel Blanc, the character's original voice actor, Bugs has a Flatbush accent. Bugs has had numerous catchphrases, the most prominent being a casual "Eh... What's up, doc?", usually said while chewing a carrot.
He is the most prominent of the Looney Tunes characters as his calm, flippant insouciance endeared him to American audiences during and after World War II. He is a mascot of the Looney Tunes series, and Warner Bros. in general.
The unnamed, prototype Warner Bros. rabbitEdit
Main article: Evolution of Bugs Bunny
An unnamed rabbit with some of the personality of Bugs, though looking very different, first appears in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on April 30, 1938. Co-directed by Ben "Bugs" Hardaway and an uncredited Cal Dalton (who was responsible for the initial design of the rabbit), this short has an almost identical plot to Tex Avery's 1937 cartoon Porky's Duck Hunt, which had introduced Daffy Duck. Porky Pig is again cast as a hunter tracking a silly prey less interested in escape than in driving his pursuer insane. The latter short replaces the little black duck with a small white rabbit. The rabbit introduces himself with the odd expression "Jiggers, fellers", and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit a voice and laugh almost like that he would later use for Woody Woodpecker. This cartoon also first uses the famous Groucho Marx line, "Of course you realize, this means war!" This rabbit was so popular with its audience that the Schlesinger staff decided to use it again.
The rabbit appears again in 1939's Prest-O Change-O, directed by Chuck Jones, where he is the pet rabbit of unseen character Sham-Fu the Magician. Two dogs, fleeing the local dogcatcher, enter his absent master's house. The rabbit harasses them, but is ultimately bested by the bigger of the two dogs.
His third appearance is in another 1939 cartoon, Hare-um Scare-um, directed by Dalton and Hardaway. This short, the first where he is depicted as a gray bunny instead of a white one, is also notable for the rabbit's first singing role. Charlie Thorson, lead animator on the short, gave the character a name. He had written "Bugs' Bunny" on the model sheet that he drew for Hardaway, implying that he considered the rabbit model sheet to be Hardaway's property. In promotional material for the short, including a surviving 1939 presskit, the name on the model sheet was altered to become the rabbit's own name: "Bugs" Bunny (quotation marks only used at the very beginning). In his later years, Mel Blanc stated that a proposed name was "Happy Rabbit". Oddly, "Happy" was only used in reference to Bugs Hardaway. In the cartoon Hare-um Scare-um, a newspaper headline reads, "Happy Hardaway".
In Chuck Jones' Elmer's Candid Camera the rabbit first meets Elmer Fudd. This rabbit looks more like the present-day Bugs, taller and with a similar face. This rabbit, however, speaks with a rural drawl. The early version of Elmer is also different from the present-day one, much fatter and taller, although Arthur Q. Bryan's voice is the same as it would be later. In Robert Clampett's 1940 Patient Porky, a similar rabbit appears to trick the audience into thinking that 750 rabbits have been born.
Bugs Bunny emergesEdit
A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is the first cartoon where both Elmer Fudd and Bugs are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor. In this cartoon Mel Blanc first uses what would become the standard voice of Bugs. And Bugs first emerges from his rabbit hole to ask Elmer, "What's up, Doc?" Animation historian Joe Adamson counts A Wild Hare as the first "official" Bugs Bunny short.
Bugs's second appearance in Jones's Elmer's Pet Rabbit introduces the audience to the name Bugs Bunny, which until then had only been used among the Termite Terrace employees. It was also the first short where he received billing under his now-famous name, but the card, "featuring Bugs Bunny", was just slapped on the end of the completed short's opening titles when A Wild Hare proved an unexpected success. The rabbit here is in look and voice identical to the one in Jones' earlier Elmer's Candid Camera.
Bugs in his Wild Hare likeness appeared in five more shorts during 1941. Tortoise Beats Hare, directed by Tex Avery, features the first appearance of Cecil Turtle; Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt, is the first Bugs Bunny short directed by Friz Freleng; All This and Rabbit Stew, directed by Avery, has Bugs tracked by a little African-American hunter (based heavily on racial stereotypes); The Heckling Hare was the final Bugs short Avery worked on before being fired (Avery and producer Schlesinger vehemently disagreed over the ending gag of The Heckling Hare, and Avery refused to compromise his creative principles) and leaving for MGM; and Wabbit Twouble, the first Bugs short directed by Robert Clampett. Wabbit Twouble was also the first of five Bugs shorts to feature a chubbier remodel of Elmer Fudd, a short-lived attempt to have Fudd more closely resemble his voice actor, comedian Arthur Q. Bryan.
World War IIEdit
By 1942, Bugs had become the number one star of Merrie Melodies. The series had originally been intended only for one-shot characters in shorts after several early attempts to introduce characters (Foxy, Goopy Geer and Piggy) failed under Harman–Ising. (In 1937, under Schlesinger, it had started introducing newer characters.) Bugs' 1942 shorts included Friz Freleng's The Wabbit Who Came to Supper, and the Robert Clampett shorts The Wacky Wabbit and Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (which introduced Beaky Buzzard). Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid shows a slight redesign of Bugs, with less-prominent front teeth and a rounder head. The character was reworked by Robert McKimson, then an animator in Robert Clampett's unit. The redesign at first was only used in the shorts created by Clampett's unit, but in time it would be taken up by the other directors, with Freleng and Frank Tashlin the first. When McKimson was himself promoted to director, he created yet another version, with more slanted eyes, longer teeth and a much larger mouth. He used this version until 1949 (as did Art Davis for the one Bugs Bunny cartoon he directed) when he started using the version he had designed for Clampett. Jones would come up with his own slight modification, and the voice had slight variations between the units.
Other 1942 Bugs shorts included Chuck Jones' Hold the Lion, Please, Freleng's Fresh Hare and The Hare-Brained Hypnotist (which restores Elmer Fudd to his previous size), and Jones' Case of the Missing Hare. Bugs also made cameos in Tex Avery's final Warner Bros. short, Crazy Cruise, and stars in the two-minute United States war bonds commercial film Any Bonds Today.
Bugs became more popular during World War II because of his free and easy attitude, and 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. In company with cartoon studios such as Disney and Famous Studios, Warners put its characters against the period's biggest enemies, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and the Japanese. The 1944 short Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips features Bugs at odds with a group of Japanese soldiers. This cartoon has since been pulled from distribution due to its racial stereotypes. He also faces off against Herman Goering and Hitler in Herr Meets Hare, which introduced his well-known reference to Albuquerque as he mistakenly winds up in the Black Forest of 'Joimany' instead of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Since Bugs' debut in A Wild Hare, he had appeared only in color Merrie Melodie cartoons (making him one of the few recurring characters created for that series in the Leon Schlesinger era prior to the full conversion to color), alongside Elmer's prototype Egghead, Inki, Sniffles, and Elmer himself—who was heard but not seen in the 1942 Looney Tunes cartoon Nutty News, and made his first formal appearance in that series in 1943's To Duck or Not to Duck. While he made a cameo appearance in the 1943 Porky and Daffy cartoon Porky Pig's Feat this was his only appearance in a black-and-white Looney Tune cartoon. He did not star in a cartoon in the Looney Tunes series until that series made its complete conversion to only color cartoons beginning with 1944 releases. Buckaroo Bugs was Bugs' first cartoon in the Looney Tunes series, and was also the last WB cartoon to credit Leon Schlesinger.
Among his most notable civilian shorts during this period are Bob Clampett's Tortoise Wins by a Hare (a sequel to 1941's Tortoise Beats Hare); A Corny Concerto (a spoof of Disney's Fantasia); Falling Hare; What's Cookin' Doc?; Chuck Jones's Superman parody Super-Rabbit; and Freleng's Little Red Riding Rabbit. The 1944 short Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears introduces Jones' The Three Bears characters.
At the end of the cartoon Super-Rabbit, 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 Air Field, 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 and operated out of Australia's Northern Territory from 1943 to 1945, flying B-24 Liberator bombers. Bugs riding an air delivered torpedo served as the squadron logo for Marine Torpedo/Bomber Squadron 242 in the Second World War.
In 1944, Bugs Bunny made a cameo appearance in Jasper Goes Hunting, a short produced by rival studio Paramount Pictures. In this cameo (animated by Robert McKimson, with Mel Blanc providing the voice), Bugs pops out of a rabbit hole, saying his usual catchphrase; Bugs then says, "I must be in the wrong picture" and then goes back in the hole. He also appears fleetingly in the 1947 Arthur Davis cartoon The Goofy Gophers
The post-war eraEdit
After World War II Bugs appeared in numerous cartoon shorts in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, making his last appearance in the theatrical cartoons in 1964 with False Hare. He was directed by Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson, Arthur Davis and Chuck Jones and appeared in feature films, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit (which features the first-ever meeting between Bugs and his box-office rival Mickey Mouse), Space Jam (which co-starred Michael Jordan), and the 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
The Bugs Bunny short Knighty Knight Bugs (1958), in which a medieval Bugs Bunny trades blows with Yosemite Sam and his fire-breathing dragon (which has a cold), won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons) of 1958. Three of Chuck Jones' Bugs Bunny shorts—Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck, Rabbit, Duck!—comprise what is often referred to as the "Duck Season/Rabbit Season" trilogy, and are considered among the director's best works. Jones' 1957 classic, What's Opera, Doc?, cast Bugs and Elmer in a parody of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. It has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, the first cartoon short to receive this honor.
In the fall of 1960, ABC debuted the prime-time television program The Bugs Bunny Show. This show packaged many of the post-1948 Warners shorts with newly animated wraparounds. After two seasons, it was moved from its evening slot to reruns on Saturday mornings. The Bugs Bunny Show changed format and exact title frequently, but remained on network television for 40 years. The packaging was later completely different, with each short simply presented on its own, title and all, though some clips from the new bridging material were sometimes used as filler.
After the classic cartoon eraEdit
Bugs has made appearances in animated specials for network television, mostly composed of classic cartoons with bridging material added, including How Bugs Bunny Won the West, and The Bugs Bunny Mystery Special. 1980's Bugs Bunny's Busting Out All Over, however, contained no vintage clips and featured the first new Bugs Bunny cartoons in 16 years. It opened with "Portrait Of The Artist As a Young Bunny", which features a flashback of Bugs as a child thwarting a young Elmer Fudd, while its third and closing short was "Spaced Out Bunny", with Bugs being kidnapped by Marvin the Martian to be a playmate for Hugo, an Abominable Snowman-like character. (A new Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner short filled out the half hour.) Compilation films included the independently produced Bugs Bunny: Superstar, using the vintage shorts then owned by United Artists; as well as Warner Bros. efforts The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island, Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales and Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. He also made guest appearances in episodes of the 1990s television program Tiny Toon Adventures as the principal of Acme Looniversity and the mentor of Babs and Buster Bunny, and would later make occasional guest cameos on spinoffs Taz-Mania,and Animaniacs and He appears in the beginning of Gremlins 2: The New Batch, where he tries to ride the opening Warner Bros logo, but is interrupted by Daffy Duck.Bugs has had several comic book series over the years. Western Publishing had the license for all the Warner Brothers cartoons, and produced Bugs Bunny comics first for Dell Comics, then later for their own Gold Key Comics. Dell published 58 issues and several specials from 1952 to 1962. Gold Key continued for another 133 issues. DC Comics, the sister/subsidiary company of Warner Bros., has published several comics titles since 1994 that Bugs has appeared in. Notable among these was the 2000 four-issue miniseries Superman & Bugs Bunny, written by Mark Evanier and drawn by Joe Staton. This depicted a crossover between DC's superheroes and the Warner cartoon characters.
Like Spongebob for Nickelodeon, Bugs has served as the mascot for Warner Bros. Entertainment and its various divisions. He and Mickey are the first cartoon characters to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the 1988 animated/live action movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bugs was shown as one of the inhabitants of Toontown. However, since the film was being produced by Disney, Warner Bros. would only allow the use of their biggest star if he got an equal amount of screen time as Disney's biggest star, Mickey Mouse. Because of this, both characters are always together in frame when onscreen. For the same reasons, Bugs never calls Mickey by his name, only referring to him as "Doc," while Mickey calls him "Bugs."
Bugs Bunny came back to the silver screen in Box Office Bunny in 1990. This was the first Bugs Bunny cartoon short since 1964 to be released to theaters, and it was created for the Bugs Bunny 50th anniversary celebration. It was followed in 1991 by (Blooper) Bunny, a short that has gained a cult following among some animation fans for its edgy humor.
Bugs made an appearance in the 1990 drug prevention video Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue. This special is notable for being the first time that somebody other than Mel Blanc voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. (In this video, both characters were voiced by Jeff Bergman.)
In 1997, Bugs appeared on a U.S. postage stamp, the first cartoon to be so honored, beating the iconic Mickey Mouse. The stamp is number seven on the list of the ten most popular U.S. stamps, as calculated by the number of stamps purchased but not used. The introduction of Bugs onto a stamp was controversial at the time, as it was seen as a step toward the 'commercialization' of stamp art. The postal service rejected many designs, and went with a postal-themed drawing. Avery Dennison printed the Bugs Bunny stamp sheet, which featured "a special ten-stamp design and was the first self-adhesive souvenir sheet issued by the U.S. Postal Service."
A younger version of Bugs is the main character of Baby Looney Tunes, which debuted on Cartoon Network in 2002. In the action comedy Loonatics Unleashed, his definite descendant Ace Bunny is the leader of the Loonatics team and seems to have inherited his ancestor's Brooklyn accent and comic wit. Strangely, Bugs was one of the few Looney Tunes characters who never appeared in the 2003 Duck Dodgers series.
Bugs has appeared in numerous video games, including the Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle series, Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout, Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage and the similar Bugs Bunny in Double Trouble, Looney Tunes B-Ball, Space Jam, Looney Tunes Racing, Looney Tunes: Space Race, Bugs Bunny Lost in Time, and its sequel, Bugs Bunny and Taz Time Busters, and Looney Tunes: Back in Action and the new video game Looney Tunes: Acme Arsenal.
On August 13, 2010, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they are planning a live-action/CG-animated combo feature film based on the Looney Tunes character.
Return to televisionEdit
Bugs and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang will return to Cartoon Network in 2011 in a brand new show called The Looney Tunes Show, with Jeff Bergman returning to voice both Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. This series will also feature the characters singing original songs as well. The show is set to debut on May 3, 2011.
Personality and catchphrasesEdit
Bugs has feuded with Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Willoughby the Dog, Marvin the Martian, Beaky Buzzard, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tasmanian Devil, Cecil Turtle, Charlie Dog, Witch Hazel, Rocky and Mugsy, Wile E. Coyote, the Crusher, Gremlin, Big Bad Wolf, Count Blood Count and a host of others. Bugs almost always wins these conflicts, a plot pattern which recurs in Looney Tunes films directed by Chuck Jones. Concerned that viewers would lose sympathy for an aggressive protagonist who always won, Jones arranged for Bugs to be bullied, cheated, or threatened by the antagonists while minding his own business, justifying his subsequent antics as retaliation or self-defense. He's also been known to break the fourth wall by "communicating" with the audience, either by explaining the situation (ex. "Be with you in a minute, folks!"), describing someone to the audience (ex. "Feisty, ain't they?"), clueing in on the story (ex. "This happens to him all during the picture, folks."), etc.
Bugs will usually try to placate the antagonist and avoid conflict, but when an antagonist pushes him too far, Bugs may address the audience and invoke his catchphrase "Of course you realize this means war!" before he retaliates, and the retaliation will be devastating. This line was taken from Groucho Marx and others in the 1933 film Duck Soup and was also used in the 1935 Marx film A Night at the Opera. Bugs would pay 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).
Other directors, such as Friz Freleng, characterized Bugs as altruistic. When Bugs meets other successful characters (such as Cecil Turtle in Tortoise Beats Hare, or, in World War II, the Gremlin of Falling Hare), his overconfidence becomes a disadvantage.
During the 1940s, Bugs was immature and wild, but starting in the 1950s his personality matured and his attitude was less frenetic. Though often shown as highly mischievous and violent, Bugs is never actually malicious, and only acts as such in self-defense against his aggressors; the only two cartoons where Bugs ever served as an antagonist was in Buckaroo Bugs and Duck Amuck, this last displaying a much sadistic and sociopathic side of Bugs, where he becomes the cartoonist of Daffy Duck's cartoon and abuses of his new-found "divine powers" by emotionally torture Daffy through the short until the latter lost his patience.
Bugs Bunny's nonchalant carrot-chewing standing position, as explained by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, and Bob Clampett, originated in a scene in the film It Happened One Night, in which Clark Gable's character leans against a fence, eating carrots rapidly and talking with his mouth full to Claudette Colbert's character. This scene was well known while the film was popular, and viewers at the time likely recognized Bugs Bunny's behavior as satire.
The carrot-chewing scenes are generally followed by Bugs Bunny's most well-known catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?", which was written by director Tex Avery for his first Bugs Bunny short, 1940's A Wild Hare. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in his native Texas and that he did not think much of the phrase. When the short was first screened in theaters, the "What's up, Doc?" scene generated a tremendously positive audience reaction. As a result, the scene became a recurring element in subsequent films and cartoons. The phrase was sometimes modified for a situation. For example, Bugs says "What's up, dogs?" to the antagonists in A Hare Grows in Manhattan, "What's up, Duke?" to the knight in Knight-mare Hare and "What's up, prune-face?" to the aged Elmer in The Old Grey Hare. He might also greet Daffy with "What's up, Duck?" He used one variation, "What's all the hub-bub, bub?" only once, in Falling Hare. Another variation is used in Looney Tunes: Back In Action when he greets a lightsaber-wielding Marvin the Martian saying "What's up, Darth?"
Several Chuck Jones shorts in the late 1940s and 1950s depict Bugs travelling via cross-country (and, in some cases, intercontinental) tunnel-digging, ending up in places as varied as Mexico (Bully For Bugs, 1953), the Himalayas (The Abominable Snow Rabbit, 1960) and Antarctica (Frigid Hare, 1949) all because he "shoulda taken that left toin at Albukoikee." He first utters that phrase in Herr Meets Hare (1945), when he emerges in the Black Forest, a cartoon seldom seen today due to its blatantly topical subject matter. When Hermann Göring says to Bugs, "There is no Las Vegas in 'Chermany'" and takes a potshot at Bugs, Bugs dives into his hole and says, "Joimany! Yipe!", as Bugs realizes he's behind enemy lines. The confused response to his "left toin" comment also followed a pattern. For example, when he tunnels into Scotland in 1948's My Bunny Lies Over The Sea, while thinking he's heading for the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California, it provides another chance for an ethnic stereotype: "Therrre's no La Brrrea Tarrr Pits in Scotland!" (to which Bugs responds, "Uh...what's up, Mac-doc?"). A couple of late-1950s shorts of this ilk also featured Daffy Duck travelling with Bugs ("Since when is Pismo Beach inside a cave?!").
Bugs Bunny has some similarities to figures from mythology and folklore, such as Br'er Rabbit, Nanabozho, or Anansi, and might be seen as a modern trickster (for example, he repeatedly uses cross-dressing mischievously). Unlike most cartoon characters, however, Bugs Bunny is rarely defeated in his own games of trickery. One exception to this is the short Hare Brush, in which Elmer Fudd ultimately carries the day at the end; however, critics note that in this short, Elmer and Bugs assume each other's personalities—through mental illness and hypnosis, respectively—and it is only by becoming Bugs that Elmer can win. However, Bugs was beaten at his own game. In the short Duck Amuck he torments Daffy Duck as the unseen animator, ending with his line, "Ain't I a stinker?" Bugs feels the same wrath of an unseen animator in the short Rabbit Rampage where he is in turn tormented by Elmer Fudd. At the end of the clip Elmer gleefully exclaims, 'Well, I finally got even with that scwewy wabbit!"
Although it was usually Porky Pig who brought the WB cartoons to a close with his stuttering, "That's all, folks!", Bugs would occasionally appear, bursting through a drum just as Porky did, but munching a carrot and saying in his Bronx-Brooklyn accent, "And dat's de end!"
The name "Bugs" or "Bugsy" as an old-fashioned nickname means "crazy" (or "loopy"). Several famous people from the first half of the twentieth century had that nickname. It is now out of fashion as a nickname, but survives in 1950s-1960s expressions like "you're bugging me", as in "you're driving me crazy".
Bugs wears white gloves, which he is rarely seen without. One example is the episode Long-Haired Hare, where Bugs pretends to be the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski and instructs opera star "Giovanni Jones" to sing and to hold a high note. As Giovanni Jones is turning red with the strain, Bugs slips his left hand out of its glove, leaving the glove hovering in the air in order to command Jones to continue to hold the high note. Bugs then nips down to the mail drop to order, and then to receive, a pair of ear defenders. Bugs puts on the ear defenders and then zips back into the amphitheater and reinserts his hand into his glove as singer Jones is writhing on the stage, still holding that same high note.
Bugs Bunny is also a master of disguise: he can wear any disguise that he wants to confuse his enemies: in Bowery Bugs he uses diverse disguises: fakir, gentleman, woman, baker and finally policeman. This ability of disguise makes Bugs famous because we can recognize him while at the same time realizing that his enemies are trapped. Bugs has a certain preference for the female disguise: Taz, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam were fooled by this sexy bunny (woman) and in Hare Trimmed, Sam discovers the real face of "Granny" (Bugs's disguise) in the church where they attempt to get married. For all the gullible victims of all these disguises, however, for some reason, Daffy Duck and Cecil Turtle are among those who are never fooled.
Bugs Bunny may also have some mystical potential. In Knight-mare Hare he was able to return to his bunny form (after being transformed into a donkey) by removing his donkey form as if it were a suit. Merlin of Monroe (the wizard) was unable to do the same thing. Later Bugs Bunny defeated the Count Blood Count in a magical spell duel. However, the story was a dream and Bugs Bunny's victory over Count Blood Count was a result of his intellect, not innate magical power.
Rabbit or hare?Edit
The animators throughout Bugs' history have treated the terms rabbit and hare as synonymous. Taxonomically, they are not synonymous, being somewhat similar but observably different types of lagomorphs. 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.)
Within the cartoons, although the term "hare" comes up sometimes, again typically as a pun—for example, Bugs drinking "hare tonic" to "stop falling hare" or being doused with "hare restorer" to bring him back from invisibility—Bugs as well as his antagonists most often refer to the character as a "rabbit." The word "bunny" is of no help in answering this question, as it is a synonym for both young hares and young rabbits.
The opening and closingEdit
In the opening of many of the Bugs Bunny cartoons, the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes rings contain Bugs Bunny's head after the Warner Bros. shield (generally from 1944 and 1949 onward). Others have Bugs Bunny relaxing on top of the Warner Bros. shield: He chews on his carrot, looks angrily at the camera and pulls down the next logo (Merrie Melodies or Looney Tunes) like a window shade (generally on cartoons between 1945 until early 1949). Then he lifts it back up, to now be seen lying on his own name, which then fades into the title of the specific short. In some other cases, the title card sometimes fades to him, already on his name and chewing his carrot then fade to the name of the short. At the finish of Hare Tonic and Baseball Bugs, Bugs breaks out of a drum (like Porky Pig) and says, "And that's the end". Also, at the end of Box Office Bunny, right after Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd run out through the Looney Tunes "That's All Folks!" sequence, Bugs later comes in through the rings and says, "And that's all, folks!". He did the ending for the last time at the end of Space Jam but this time saying "Well, that's all, folks!".
The following are the many voice actors who have voiced the character Bugs Bunny over the last seventy years:
- Mel Blanc
- Mel Blanc voiced the character for 49 years, from Bugs' debut in A Wild Hare (1940) 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. Though his best-known character was the carrot-chomping rabbit, munching on the carrots interrupted the dialogue. Various substitutes, such as celery, were tried, but none of them sounded like a carrot. So for the sake of expedience, he would munch and then spit the carrot bits into a spittoon rather than swallowing them, and continue with the dialogue. One oft-repeated story, possibly originating from Bugs Bunny: Superstar, is that he was allergic to carrots and had to spit them out to minimize any allergic reaction — but his autobiography makes no such claim; in fact, in a 1984 interview with Tim Lawson, co-author of The Magic Behind The Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors (University Press of Mississippi, 2004), Blanc emphatically denied being allergic to carrots.
- Jeff Bergman
- Jeff Bergman was the first to voice Bugs (and several other Looney Tunes characters) after Mel Blanc died in 1989. He got the job by impressing Warner Bros. higher-ups with a tape of himself re-creating the voices of several of Blanc's characters, including Bugs Bunny. He had rigged the tape player so that he could use a switch to instantly toggle back and forth between the original recording of Blanc and Bergman's recording of the same lines. Upon doing this, it was almost impossible for the producers to tell which voice was Blanc's and which voice was Bergman; thus his vocal ability was established and his career launched.
- Bergman first voiced Bugs during the 1990 Academy Awards and then in Box Office Bunny, a 4-minute Looney Tunes short released in 1990 to commemorate Bugs' fiftieth anniversary. Bergman would next voice Bugs Bunny in the 1991 short (Blooper) Bunny, a Greg Ford-directed cartoon also produced to coincide with Bugs Bunny's fiftieth anniversary. However, the short never received its intended theatrical release and was shelved for years, until Cartoon Network rediscovered it and broadcast it on their channel several years later. (Blooper) Bunny has since garnered a cult following among animation fans for its use of edgy humor. Other works for which Bergman provided Bugs' voice include Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers (an obvious parody of the 1950s sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Tiny Toon Adventures (a popular television program of the early nineties that featured the classic Looney Tunes characters as mentors to their younger counterparts) in the first season, and Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue (a television special exposing children to dangers of illegal drugs). Bergman would continue to do the voice of Bugs Bunny until 1993. In 2011 Bergman will return to voice Bugs Bunny for Cartoon Network's upcoming series, The Looney Tunes Show.
- Greg Burson
- Greg Burson first voiced Bugs in later episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures. He was then given the responsibility of voicing Bugs in 1995's Carrotblanca, a well-received 8-minute Looney Tunes cartoon originally shown in cinemas alongside The Amazing Panda Adventure (US) and The Pebble and the Penguin (non-US); it has since been released on video packaged with older Looney Tunes cartoons and was even included in the special edition DVD release of Casablanca, of which it is both a parody and an homage. Burson next voiced Bugs in the 1996 short From Hare to Eternity; the film is notable for being dedicated to the memory of the then-just deceased Friz Freleng, and for being the final Looney Tunes cartoon that Chuck Jones directed. Greg Burson also provided Bugs' voice in The Bugs and Daffy Show, which ran on Cartoon Network from 1996 to 2003. He died in 2008.
- Billy West
- Billy West has been in television since the late 1980s. His first role was for the 1988 revived version of Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil. West's breakthrough role then came almost immediately, as the voice of Stimpy and later Ren in John Kricfalusi's Ren & Stimpy. West has since been the voice talent for close to 120 different characters, including some of the most iconic animated figures in television history. Perhaps West's most notable film work came in the 1996 movie Space Jam. Starring alongside Michael Jordan, West provided the voice of both Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. West would go on to reprise the roles of Bugs in subsequent Looney Tunes productions, including his cameos on Histeria!, also he made a cameo appearance on Kid vs. Kat in "Class Act", the Kids' WB! promotional spots, and the 2006 Christmas-themed special Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas and the DVD compilations "Reality Check" and "Stranger Than Fiction", along with several Looney Tunes-centric CDs, cartoons, and video games. Billy West is, along with fellow voice artist Joe Alaskey, credited as one of the current successors of Mel Blanc in impersonating the voice of Bugs Bunny.
- Joe Alaskey
- Joe Alaskey, like Jeff Bergman, is well-known for his ability to successfully impersonate many Looney Tunes characters. In fact, Alaskey voiced Yosemite Sam in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as original voice actor Mel Blanc had found it too hard on his vocal cords. (This makes Sam one of the few voices created by Blanc to be voiced by someone else during his lifetime.) Joe Alaskey's first performance as Bugs Bunny came in the 2003 feature film Looney Tunes: Back in Action, although he had tested performing the role in a few earlier projects, such as Tweety's High-Flying Adventure. While still best known for providing the voice of Daffy Duck, Alaskey has also gone on to do Bugs' voice in several subsequent productions, including Daffy Duck for President (which was released on The Looney Tunes Golden Collection: Volume 2 and dedicated to then-just deceased Chuck Jones) and several recent video games and Looney Tunes cartoons, including Hare and Loathing in Las Vegas. Joe Alaskey is, along with fellow voice actor Billy West, credited as one of the current successors of Mel Blanc in impersonating the voice of Bugs Bunny.
- Samuel Vincent
- Samuel Vincent served as the voice of Bugs in the Cartoon Network TV series Baby Looney Tunes.
- Noel Blanc
- Noel Blanc, Mel Blanc's son, voiced Bugs for the Tiny Toons special It's a Wonderful Tiny Toon Christmas Special. The elder Blanc claimed in his later years that Noel substituted for Mel in various cartoon studios, including doing Bugs at Warner Bros., while he was recovering from a near-fatal car wreck. Noel can also be seen doing Bugs' voice with his father in the documentary on the making of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Bugs Bunny has had cameo appearances in several cartoons, including two Private SNAFU shorts.
- Patient Porky (1940)
- Crazy Cruise (1942)
- Porky Pig's Feat (1943, Bugs's only appearance in a black-and-white Looney Tunes short)
- Jasper Goes Hunting (1944, for Paramount)
- Odor-able Kitty (1945)
- The Goofy Gophers (1947, with a sped-up voice)
- The Lion's Busy (1950)
- Duck Amuck (1953)
- Justice League: The New Frontier (2008, voiced by Joe Alaskey, as one of the forms of The Martian Manhunter)
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. In a CNN broadcast on July 31, 2002, a TV Guide editor talked about the group that created the list. The editor also 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, he's a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops." Additionally, in Animal Planet's 50 Greatest Movie Animals (2004), Bugs was named #3, behind Mickey Mouse and Toto.
Bugs has also had an effect on "live" movie acting. During an interview for Inside the Actors Studio, comedian Dave Chappelle cited him as one of his earliest influences, praising voice actor Mel Blanc.
- Knighty Knight Bugs (1958)