Bugs Bunny fans taught Mel Blanc how to appreciate children
When you're in charge of being the voice to over 1,000 cartoon characters, one being Bugs Bunny, kids are going to know you.
When Mel Blanc became the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and many other family favorites, there was no way he could have known the impact he would be making for generations to come. The Looney Tunes began in 1930 and became some of the most famous cartoons ever to air.
From watching the Looney Tunes on TV every Saturday morning to watching them on streaming services today... Bugs and his friends still hold a special place in our hearts.
Mel Blanc created a whole world with one voice... and kids loved it.
In 1961, Blanc was recovering from a near-fatal accident. He received many fan letters and gifts while in critical condition and in a coma for 21 days in the hospital. All of the fan mail had one similar message: don't let Bugs Bunny die.
"Kids would send me something that belonged to them, like a penny or something," Blanc said in a 1982 interview with The Orlando Sentinel. "'Please don't die, Bugs Bunny.' That's when I really started to appreciate kids."
The man behind the bunny went on to voice over 1,000 more cartoon characters during his career, doing it all with a great memory. How did he remember every character's voice? We will never understand.
During his success in animation, Blanc was at the point in fame where he could travel the country and speak at colleges. Going to colleges gave him the chance to meet young fans, many of which grew up watching his work on TV.
Although he had many characters to choose from, Blanc said his favorite was Bugs Bunny.
"They were going to call him 'Hoppy Hare,' and he was supposed to say something like 'What's cooking?'" Blanc said, whose choice of a catchphrase for the beloved bunny prevailed. "When I saw his picture, I tried to pick out the toughest accent in the country for him. I figured it was either the Bronx or Brooklyn, so I combined them."
That sort of thought went into developing many other cartoon characters such as Porky the Pig, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and more.
In a 1979 interview with The Times Leader, Blanc talked about what the characters meant to him, especially while in the hospital in '61.
"They say that while I was unconscious, the doctor would come into my room every day and ask me how I was," Blanc said. "Nothing. I wouldn't answer."
"Then one day he comes in says, 'Hey Bugs, how are you?' And I answered, 'Ehh, just fine, Doc.' Then he asked Porky how he was doing and I answered in Porky's voice. So I guess I actually live those characters."
Blanc's own kid, Noel Blanc, developed a deep love for his father's work and voice. He and his father started doing commercial work together. Some of the commercials were done by a production company that he owned and operated with his son.
"I taught him all the voices," Blanc said. "He can do every one of them."