11 wild little details you never noticed in Bugs Bunny cartoons

The artists hid all sorts of stuff in these classic Looney Tunes.

Animation is a labor-intensive process. Especially back in the early days. The Looney Tunes gems you grew up watching were handcrafted by a team of talented artists. If you spent weeks painting backgrounds for a Bugs Bunny cartoon, you would probably slip in a few little inside jokes to amuse your coworkers, too.

Sure enough, throughout the Looney Tunes masterworks, astute viewers will spot numerous nods to the creative minds behind the cartoons. You might also spot some shockingly unexpected details.

The core group of animators were routinely adding their "signature" to their work, slapping their names on buildings, products, advertisements and whatnot. Let's take a closer look!

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1. A shocking newspaper headline in "Tortoise Wins by a Hare"

"Tortoise Wins by a Hair" hit theatres in February 1943. Just two days earlier, Joseph Goebbels had declared a "Total War" against the Allies in a Berlin speech. The Warner Bros. team crafted propaganda cartoons for the Allied cause during World War II — and also snuck war content into their humorous shorts. In this race between Cecil the Turtle and Bugs, a newspaper headline under the rabbit declares, "Adolf Hitler Commits Suicide."

2. "Baseball Bugs"

Michael Maltese was the writer behind "Baseball Bugs," an all-time classic. Pay attention to the advertising on the outfield wall. A billboard for a detective named "Mike Maltese, Ace Dick" is painted on the wall next to an ad for cough drops.

3. "Racketeer Rabbit"

No Bugs creator was more fond of sneaking his name into cartoons than Friz Freleng. You can find references to "Friz" or "Frisby," his nickname, in most of his cartoons. Take this ad for "Hotel Friz," for example. (Also note the funny ad for "Krool Cigarettes.") Elsewhere in the Looney Tunes universe, you'll spot products like "Frisby Pure Jam," "Friz Sardines," "Friz — America's Favorite Gelatin Dessert," etc.

4. The animator's carvings in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again"

As Bugs leans on a door frame in this Western with Yosemite Sam, you will spot numerous carvings in the wood. Behind Bugs there are several names and initials carved into the door frame. To the right, someone has "carved" Mike, Friz and Ted for Michael Maltese, Friz Freleng and Tedd Pierce. The "P.J." initials on the left are for Paul Julian, a background artist who also loved sneaking his initials and name into backgrounds. Always look for Paul Julian's personal touch.

5. The topless woman in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again"

Here's something you might not expect — but remember, these cartoons were originally released in theaters for adults. Also in that Yosemite Sam cartoon, a rather revealing piece of artwork hangs above the bar in the saloon. There is a painting of a topless woman. Yes, it's "art," but we censored it just in case.

6. The movie poster and buildings in "Hare Do"

In this movie theater romp with Elmer chasing Bugs, you will spot all kinds of easter eggs in the posts, the signage on buildings, etc. A movie poster in the lobby is promoting a new flick called Backwash. It stars "Pete Burness." Pete was an animator at Warner Bros., who would go on to work on Mr. Magoo shorts. He even won an Oscar for his Mr. Magoo work.

7. The plaque in "Ballot Box Bunny"

Yosemite Sam releases some ants in his plot to get Bugs. He hides behind a statue of man riding a horse. The plaque on the statue is another litany of WB creatives — (Warren) Batchelder, (Ken) Champin, (Jack) Farren, (Paul) Julian, (Sam) Nicholson, (Manuel) Perez, (Hawley) Pratt, (Virgil) Ross. It's essentially the credits for all the background artists, layout artists, and animators who worked on the short.

8. The union in "Bugs and Thugs"

Private Eye Bugs has a certificate on the wall showing that he is a member of "Detective Guild Local 839". This number wasn't chosen at random - the cartoonists at WB belonged to a cartoonists union local 839.

9. The writers in "Wackiki Wabbit"

Two castaways wash up on an island in this tropical short. The two fellows are no mere random humans. They are Tedd Pierce (left) and Michael Maltese (right), the two writers of the cartoon. Oh, well, they not only wrote the thing, but they also voiced the characters, too! It's essentially a self-portrait.

10. Richard Nixon in "Haredevil Hare"

"Haredevil Hare" introduced the planet to Marvin the Martian. It also likely gave many Americans their first look at a future president. Early in the short, a newspaper headline declares, "Heroic Rabbit Volunteers as First Passenger." Richard M. Nixon appears in a photo on the Daily Snooze front page. He had recently been elected as a Congressman to California's 12th District. They animators doodled on the image a bit to change the appearances, it seems.

11. This missing 3-D effect in "Lumber Jack-Rabbit"

This short was the only classic Looney Tunes released in 3-D. Warner Bros. attached the cartoon to its 3-D film The Moonlighter in 1953. Obviously, you can't see it in that format anymore, but there are still obvious nods to the technology. The "WB" logo bulges and bursts out of the screen in the opening.

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Greg 16 months ago
Bugs was always my favorite the way he would out smart his opponents.
bnichols23 16 months ago
Interesting. A lot of that I didn't know.
anima8r 17 months ago
I’m afraid to mention anything that would be considered controversial for fear of the current “Cancel Culture” revolution removing it from our history.
Greg anima8r 16 months ago
OMG for stupid do you righties have to bring your paranoid delusions into everything
Joe1954 Greg 13 months ago
Talk about stoopid. It's not a delusion. You lefties censor everything. Except your own insults. But let a righty say anything remotely offensive, or even something no rational human being would consider offensive, he's likely to not only be censored, but forever banned from the website!
Yuuji 17 months ago
what's the difference between the WB shield zooming out
Yuuji 17 months ago
Look who's coming maybe......on Toon in with me
Toonhead Yuuji 16 months ago
Woo-hoo! I’m a fan of the classic WW! If we’re lucky we’ll see some early examples. Watch the backgrounds and you are liable to see some very interesting little touches.
bnichols23 Toonhead 16 months ago
The steel pans are a nice touch.
Mob39 17 months ago
Bugs Bunny will always be the best cartoon ever and holds up to the test of times!
Toonhead Mob39 16 months ago
Add my vote
Spiro 17 months ago
Warner Brothers' visual jokes were harmless compared to Disney's visual jokes.
UTZAAKE 17 months ago
8. Every Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show on television prominently acknowledges Local 839. https://animationguild.org/
phritzg 17 months ago
Regarding Number 5, the topless woman in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again", you can see the uncensored image at this link: http://moohooblog.blogspot.com/2017/03/next-lt-bugs-bunny-rides-again.html
Wiseguy 17 months ago
A painting of a naked woman can be seen in The Flintstones episode "Rip Van Flintstone." Look by the door of rich Barney's mansion.
Toonhead 17 months ago
Loved it! Some things I had noticed but the rest were a delight! The insider insights are much appreciated. 10 outa 10! More please!
ncadams27 17 months ago
Warner’s Brothers did something similar with their live action shows such as Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.
Toonhead ncadams27 17 months ago
I have seen vintage WB shows that included a stream of cameos by characters from that year’s shows, much as they did with toons and movie stars
Wiseguy ncadams27 17 months ago
Warner Brothers (or Warners, without the Brothers), no apostrophe.
scott Wiseguy 17 months ago
Warner Bros.
stephaniestavropoulos 17 months ago
#1 was a prophesy. A chilling prophesy. How prophetic. Little did the talented gents who called Termite Terrace "home," their joke headline prediction of the suicide of Hitler, would ring true...2 years later!
#9. From the description, this cartoon contained the first selfies! This was a precursor to what awaited the 21st century lifeforms. 19 years later {from 1943,} folks would get a glimpse of another animated futuristic selfie on The Jetsons.
justjeff 17 months ago
In #10, that image looks more like a younger Lyndon Johnson than Richard Nixon - it also somewhat resembles Joe McCarthy.

As I'd mentioned in another forum, another Easter Egg was in "One Froggy Night", when (in the 21st Century) the Tregoweth Brown building was vaporized by the demolition man. Treg Brown was the editor and film cutter who created many of the great sound effects for the cartoons (such as the "thwip-thwip" of the Road Runner sticking his tongue out... (done by flicking his thumb off of the opening of a wine bottle - the sound of air being released from the suction between thumb and bottle caused the "thwip" sound)...
Toonhead justjeff 17 months ago
I knew who Treg Brown was and a part of what he did. I did not know that he was the inventor of one of my favorite sound effects. Thanks for the knowledge.
justjeff Toonhead 17 months ago
You're most welcome. Brown is often miscredited for creating the headshake effect, also known as the "trombone gobble" - but that was the invention of one Orlando "Slim" Martin, a trombone player in the Abe Lyman Orchestra who did a lot of musical scores for the early Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies...
Toonhead justjeff 17 months ago
You just answered what was going to be my next question! I didn’t know what it was called, but it is still my favorite. And darned hard to reproduce, lord knows I’ve tried lol
justjeff Toonhead 17 months ago
I've tried as well. I'm thinking Martin rapidly moved the trombone slide back and forth while saying (slightly guttarly) "I-E-I-E-I-E-I-E-"... Lacking a trombone, I can sometimes emulate that effect - but if all else fails, an Acme anvil conk gets me to shake my head while stars rotate around it and I get the same effect!
justjeff justjeff 17 months ago
Here's a link to the 1931 cartoon "You Don't Know What You're Doin'!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EeCxBJbAfo

At 5:56 you can hear Slim Martin's trombine gobble...

justjeff justjeff 17 months ago
I just found this nottation at http://www.annotatedmst.com/

An early, and frequently heard, sound effect in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from Warner Brothers, the “trombone gobble” was created by playing a low note on a trombone with a rapidly opening and closing mute, then speeding up the recording. It was likely performed by Orlando “Slim” Martin, who was the trombonist in the Abe Lyman Orchestra, which did the earliest Merrie Melodies themes. (Thanks to TreadWellJ for the correct name of the sound effect.)

I tend to disagree with that statement , because I've also seen a film clip of Martin with the Abe Lyman Orchestra, and he does the sound efefct in the middle of a song they're playing... the mystery continues...
Moverfan justjeff 17 months ago
Gotta look out for that Acme stuff. I'm surprised they haven't been nailed by the Better Business Bureau.
Coloumbo 17 months ago
Impressive most impressive cartoons are the best !!!!
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