Everyone’s favorite wascally wabbit is marking a major milestone. Bugs Bunny is 75 years old. Our carrot-chomping-cotton-tailed-friend first appeared on July 27th, 1940 in the cartoon “A Wild Hare,” which won him an Oscar-nomination. The animated short also marked the first time he uttered his trademark “What’s up, Doc?” catch-phrase.
Bugs Bunny was the creation of animator and cartoonist Tex Avery who was responsible for bringing a number of other characters to life in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. While Warner Brothers had toyed with several rabbit character cartoons in the studio’s early years, it was Bugs that caught the attention of movie-goers.
Animator Virgil Ross gets much of the credit for Bugs’ early career but eventually legendary animator and director Chuck Jones would brings the bunny to life for the Warner Brothers Studios. While he has had seven voice-artists help him speak, Mel Blanc is the most notable of the voice-actors to insure Bugs Bunny’s long lasting legacy. In his autobiography, Blanc claimed that he was the one who pitched the name for the character after the studios wanted to name him Happy Rabbit. Glad they took Mel’s recommendation.
In the 1943 animated short, “Super Rabbit,” Bugs appeared in a United States Marine Corps dress blue uniform thrilling the Marine Corps that Uncle Sam decided to make Bugs an honorary private of the corps.
The rabbit was the first cartoon character to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was the first cartoon creature to be featured on a U.S. Postage stamp in 1997. He was named by TV Guide in 2002 as the number one greatest cartoon character of all time.
Since his debut he has starred in dozens of animated shorts, feature films, TV series, video games, amusement parks and commercials. Bugs and other Looney Tunes characters appeared in the live-action/animated film “Space Jam” starring NBA superstar Michael Jordan in 1996 and the 2003 live-action/animation flick “Looney Tunes: Back in Action.” He also had a cameo in 1988’s live action/animated movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” which was produced by a division of Walt Disney Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. That prompted Warner Brothers to demand that its biggest star share equal screen time with Disney’s Mickey Mouse.
While marking his birthday, Bugs is showing no signs of resting on his cotton-tail. Bugs is set to return to television later this year in a new animated series, “Wabbit – A Looney Tunes Production.” Originally scheduled to premiere last year, the show has a late 2015 debut on Boomerang. He is also scheduled to appear in an upcoming animated direct-to-video film “Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run” produced by Warner Brothers Animation which is the first new Looney Tunes direct-to-video film in nine years.
Just like many senior citizens who choose to mark a major birthday in a quiet fashion, we can all celebrate Bugs Bunny’s birthday with a slice of carrot cake and honoring one of Hollywood’s enduring animated stars.