Tag Archives: Warner Bros.

Kid Stuff: Looney Tunes

Over the course of a decade, the amazing animators at Warner Bros. created a host of unforgettable characters. Uploaded by zewebanim.com.

It’s hard for me to imagine now, but Looney Tunes – and its sister Merrie Melodies – both originated because Warner Bros. wanted short films to feature their extensive music library. What followed was an enduring American treasure, running in theaters from 1929 to 1970.

Not surprisingly, the original creators of the series came from Walt Disney’s animation studios. At first, Merrie Melodies were in color and Looney Tunes in black and white, but after 1943 both were in color and featured the same characters. About all that distinguished them was their introductory music.

Uploaded by image.oneposter.com.

The first big Looney Tunes star was Porky Pig, introduced in 1935. Daffy Duck came along in 1937, and Bugs Bunny in 1940. The list of characters Warner Bros. created became popular with adults as well as kids. Just look at WB’s astonishing cartoon cast: Elmer Fudd (1940), Tweety Bird (1942), Pepe Le Pew (1945), Sylvester (1945), Yosemite Sam (1945), Foghorn Leghorn (1946), Marvin Martian (1948), Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote (1949), Speedy Gonzales (1953), and Tazmanian Devil (1954).

The cartoons have been on American television almost nonstop since the mid 1950s. They’ve also appeared in India, Denmark, Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, the UK, Singapore, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and Japan.

Several of the giants of animation helped make Looney Tunes such an international hit. Chuck Jones directed many of the most famous WB classics, including the Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd “Hunting Trilogy.” Friz Freleng directed more cartoons than anyone else, and was instrumental in developing many of the most popular characters. And Tex Avery is credited not only for creating Porky Pig, but also Chilly Willy for Walter Lantz Studio.

Looney Tunes have been nominated for 25 Best Short Subject Academy Awards, and won five. And four Looney Tunes have been selected for the National Film Registry. Here are some wonderful memories:

Actor: Mel Blanc

The great characters of Warner Bros. lost their voice in July, 1989. Uploaded by eraserart.com.

The great characters of Warner Bros. lost their voice in July, 1989. Uploaded by eraserart.com.

Bugs Bunny. Porky Pig. Sylvester. Tweety. Daffy Duck. Elmer Fudd. Yosemite Sam. Barney Rubble. Pepe Le Pew. Foghorn Leghorn. Speedy Gonzales. Marvin the Martian. Woody Woodpecker. 400 different voices in all.

Blanc’s impact is so great that it’s impossible to even conceive of what animation would have been like without him. His first voice job for Warner Brothers was Porky Pig. Though he wasn’t the first voice of Porky, he made the character uniquely his own – as he did with all his voices. He worked almost exclusively for Warner, though he voiced Woody Woodpecker for Universal and Barney Rubble for Hanna-Barbera.

Mel Blanc, uploaded by born-today.com.

Mel Blanc, uploaded by born-today.com.

He also acted in several radio and television series (The Jack Benny Program, Burns & Allen, Abbott & Costell0), but voices were his first love. And his paycheck. He voiced Porky and Daffy for an amazing 52 years, and Bugs for 49.

Blanc died 10 years ago this month, and he almost didn’t make it that long. He was in a serious car accident, and languished in a coma for two weeks. Then his doctor, in an inspired moment, addressed him as Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. Blanc responded, and eventually made a full recovery. This is a Wikipedia story, so I’m 87.4 percent sure it’s accurate.

Here’s a great video in which Blanc discusses his career and voices with Johnny Carson (No. 81):