Celebrating 75 years of Bugs Bunny
2015 commemorates the 75th anniversary of the exceedingly popular Bugs Bunny. The tall, grey, cocky rabbit, with white gloves and a carrot has been one of the most enduring characters in American cartoons. Apart from his first film by Tex Avery and his extensive cartoon career, Bugs has also appeared in several other films like "Space Jam" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."
Bugs Bunny: Origins
Bugs Bunny, before he appeared as we know him, went through various design alterations. In "Elmer's Candid Camera", one of the various prototypes of the character appeared, along with the first appearance of Elmer Fudd, the nature photographer. Despite several changes taking place in both characters after this cartoon, it certainly set the baseline for Bugs Bunny's and Elmer's relationship.
Creating Bugs Bunny!
On 27 July 1940, Bugs Bunny appeared in Tex Avery's film "A Wild Hare". Yet unnamed, he bore great similarities-with even the same mannerisms and catch phrase-to what would eventually be known as Bugs Bunny. Even in what is now regarded as his first official film appearance, he and Elmer Fudd were at loggerheads, with the latter chasing the clever rabbit.
What's in a name?
Before the bunny was named, he was simply called Bugs' Bunny. Bugs was the nickname of Ben Hardaway, the director in whose cartoons the bunny made a few appearances. In "Elmer's Pet Rabbit", a cartoon which first released on 4 January 1941, when the rabbit was finally given a name, they merely removed the apostrophe and thus was born Bugs Bunny.
Clark Gable and carrots
Bugs Bunny's addiction to carrots actually started as parody of Clark Gable, from a popular scene in "It Happened One Night", where he eats a carrot and talks fast. Bugs picked up this habit and it has endured over the years.
Making an exception
In an appearance alongside Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote- who never speaks in his appearances with the Roadrunner- tries out the speech of a wile predator, hoping to catch a dumb rabbit. Despite the coyote's efforts, Bugs Bunny proves much too clever for him and outwits him. He manages to reprogram a flying saucer targeting rabbits and sends it back to the coyote.
Carrots are the best
The voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc tried all sorts of things that would imitate exactly the sound of eating carrots. In the end, it seemed that nothing could replace actual carrot eating, so Blanc was relegated to chewing carrots.
The rabbit wins big time!
In 1957, Chuck Jones came out with a parody of Wagnerian opera, which turns tragic despite a comic premise. This Bugs Bunny cartoon, where he dresses up as the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, was selected by a poll of animators as the best cartoon ever. It later became the first animated short to be inducted to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
The postage bunny
In 1997, Bugs appeared on a commemorative US stamp, becoming the first animated cartoon character to do so. This created a controversy and split public opinion, because some collectors believed that this act commercialised the postage stamp, which usually honoured historical figures. This gesture, however, found support among some who hailed Bugs Bunny as the American Rabbit, as a unique part of American history.