Posted by: Prospector PJ23 JUL 2010
Arguably the world’s most famous rabbit was born 70 years ago this week. Bugs Bunny made his screen debut in the Academy Award-nominated, ‘A wild hare’ on 27 July 1940.
The “wascally wabbit” has since starred in more than 175 animated shorts, been adopted as the Warner Brothers corporate mascot, appeared in an Academy Award winning production, had his own star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame and become the first cartoon character to appear on a postage stamp.
Bugs Bunny was created by Tex Avery, director of ‘A wild hare’, and he originally appeared in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated films.
Bugs constantly outwits his adversaries, but only if he uses his powers to bend the laws of physics for good. If he tries to be evil or selfish, his powers disappear. Characters who always come off second best include Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam,
Wile E. Coyote and Daffy Duck. Concerned that viewers would lose sympathy for an aggressive protagonist who always won, Looney Tunes director Chuck Jones created antagonists who would attempt to bully, cheat or threaten the rabbit who had been minding his own business.
Bugs first directed his most famous catchphrase — “What’s up, doc?” — at Elmer Fudd after emerging from his rabbit hole in ‘A wild hare’. His distinctive voice was originally that of Mel Blanc, who described the accent as a blend of Bronx and Brooklyn.
‘Knighty knight Bugs’, in which a medieval Bugs trades blows with Yosemite Sam and his fire breathing dragon, won the Academy Award for best short cartoon in 1958. And the 1957 classic, ‘What’s opera, Doc?’, in which Bugs and Elmer parody Wagner’s ‘Der ring des Nibelungen’, was the first cartoon short to be deemed “culturally significant” and is preserved in the National Film Registry by the US Library of Congress.
When Bugs appeared on a US postage stamp in 1997, it became the seventh most popular US stamp based on numbers bought but not used. Bugs remains hugely popular and well recognised.