8 live-action moments that were snuck into classic cartoons
Errol Flynn appeared alongside Bugs Bunny!
Decades before movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam, cartoon characters popped up in live-action movies. Gene Kelly danced with Jerry Mouse in Anchors Aweigh and Bugs Bunny appeared in dream sequences for two different films: Two Guys from Texas and My Dream is Yours.
But animated and live-action combos also happened the other way around — short live-action moments were slipped into classic cartoons!
Well, sometimes they weren't that short. Read on to find out more about eight times when animation and live-action were combined.
1. “Rabbit Hood”
This classic Bugs Bunny short features characters like the Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John but not Robin Hood, at least not at first. After Bugs thwarts the Sheriff’s attempts to catch him, even dressing up as the King of England, Little John announces Robin Hood’s arrival and sure enough this time he shows up — in live-action! A quick shot of Errol Flynn as the legendary rogue leaves Bugs astonished.
2. “Rabbit Every Monday”
Here is another Bugs short with a quick live-action moment. It opens with Bugs singing a parody of the Doris Day song “It’s Magic” from her very first film, Romance on the High Seas. When Yosemite Sam, looking more like a hillbilly hunter than cowboy, finally gets Bugs into his oven, Bugs pretends there’s a party going on inside. Sam eagerly joins and Bugs quickly shuts him in. But the jokes on Bugs because there really is a party in the oven now and in live-action, too! It’s a celebration shot from none other than Romance on the High Seas.
3. “The House of Tomorrow”
Looney Tunes director Tex Avery also made cartoons for MGM, including a series of futuristic “…of Tomorrow” shorts like “Car of Tomorrow” and “Farm of Tomorrow.” This first one in the series, about a technologically advanced mansion, showcased a television set with three separate screens. Each one featured a different live-action view including an Old West action scene “for the kiddies.”
4. “The Three Little Pups”
Tex Avery’s most famous MGM creation is the lethargic dog, Droopy. This particular cartoon is a play on the little pigs story with a lupine dogcatcher trying to get Droopy and his fellow pups Loopy and Snoopy (this short came out three years after Charlie Brown’s dog first appeared in newspaper comics). Like in Avery’s previous short, a live-action Western scene is shown on an animated TV and the wolf even appears riding a live-action horse at the end!
5. “Daffy Duck in Hollywood”
This Tex Avery Daffy short used live-action footage in a similar way except instead of a TV screen it was shown in a movie theater. Toward the end of the cartoon, Daffy switches out a film reel that a director is about to show a studio executive. When the director and the executive screen the footage, they see a funny live-action montage of everything from a lion in a zoo to a boxing match where the boxers just stand around.
6. “What’s Cookin’ Doc?”
This Bugs Bunny "cartoon" is nearly half live-action. It starts with shots of real Los Angeles and continues with footage from an Oscars ceremony. The live-action material was taken from the original 1937 version of A Star is Born. An animated Bugs sitting at a table by himself doing impressions of stars like Bing Crosby cuts back and forth with live-action footage of the whole room and a presenter announcing the best actor winner. Bugs thinks he’s a shoo-in but loses the Academy Award to James Cagney.
7. “Eatin’ on the Cuff or The Moth Who Came to Dinner”
This cartoon, in the running for Looney Tunes short with the longest title, starts off with a live-action piano player narrating a story about a moth in love with a honey bee. Actor Leo White plays the pianist but his voice is dubbed by Mel Blanc. The piano player also appears at the end where the animated moth eats his pants causing him to run off in embarrassment.
8. “You Ought to Be in Pictures”
This iconic short showed animated Looney Tunes characters entering a live-action world decades before Space Jam. When the animators, including Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones, rush off to lunch, Porky and Daffy literally leap off the page to talk to producer Leon Schlesinger about moving up from cartoons to feature films. Director Friz Freleng decided to make Daffy a conniving trickster, instead of just a wacky goofball, which informed much of Daffy’s personality moving forward.