A car accident almost killed ''Bugs Bunny'' in 1961

At least one newspaper wrongly reported Mel Blanc's death. Fans sent letters: ''Please, God, let Bugs Bunny get well.''

Image: Rabbit Rampage / Warner Bros.

In 1955, Rabbit Rampage found Bugs Bunny on the run from an animator's pencil and brush that at times changed his appearance, erasing his head and forcing him to leap off-page. The short's a funny remake of a 1953 Daffy Duck cartoon called Duck Amuck. 

A few years later, Bugs Bunny fans found nothing funny about the idea of a world without Bugs Bunny, when a near-fatal car accident almost took the life of Bugs voice actor Mel Blanc. This story comes from the book Bugs Bunny: Fifty Years and Only One Grey Hare.

On a January night in 1961, Blanc collided with another vehicle while driving his Aston Martin around a notoriously dangerous stretch of Sunset Boulevard known as Dead Man's Curve. (Jan & Dean also sang about that particular patch of perilous pavement in their 1964 Top 10 hit "Dead Man's Curve.") It took paramedics half an hour to torch through the car door and rescue Blanc, who was unconscious.

The paramedics identified Blanc from an autographed photo of him dressed in a bunny suit and nibbling on a carrot.

"Holy cow! It's Bugs Bunny!" One EMT said, before helping to rush Blanc to the hospital.

Blanc was in bad shape. A concussion had put him in a coma, and he had fractured many bones. Doctors didn't expect him to make it through the night, and at least one newspaper, The Honolulu Herald, prematurely announced that Blanc had died. Other papers claimed the man of a thousand voices had a one in a thousand chance of surviving.

Support from Blanc's fans immediately flooded his mailbox with 15,000 letters and cards from kids and adults alike. Everybody who loved Bugs wanted a chance to wish him well, and some even sent lucky pennies and bushels of carrots.

"Please, God, let Bugs Bunny get well," read one card written in crayon.

In critical condition, Blanc stayed in a coma for 21 days, responding to absolutely nothing his neurosurgeon Dr. Louis Conway tried to revive him. Then, one day, Dr. Conway got a loony idea that he was shocked when it actually worked.

"How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?" Dr. Conway asked Blanc.

"Eh, just fine, doc. How're you?" Blanc responded.

It was a miracle, but apparently being addressed as Bugs Bunny was what it took to snap Blanc's mind back to reality. The book reports that many years later, Dr. Conway recalled, "Mel was dying, and it seemed as though Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life."

After that, Blanc was on the road to a full recovery and onto voicing many more iconic characters throughout his long career, but perhaps none so critical to his legacy as Bugs Bunny.

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4thtroika 6 months ago
Mel Blanc driving an Aston Martin on dead Man's Curve. I'll bet that was a sight!
Spiro 39 months ago
Always loved Mel Blanc's sound effect of a car breaking down.
I think he did it on Johnny Carson.
Moverfan 40 months ago
Wherever you are now, Dr. Conway...bless you, my son!
frances3agape 41 months ago
This is one of the most ASTOUNDING bits of trivia from MeTV
Personally, besides the doctor's question(s) to Blanc, I believe that
ALL the prayers, good thoughts, wishes, hopes and love
for Blanc also had a hand in his recovery
Deleted 41 months ago
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frances3agape 41 months ago
ohhhhhhhhhhh... GREAT question, Steph !
Don't know, but was it a cartoon with BOTH Bugs and Road Runner?
In fact, were they ever in one together?
EAGERLY awaiting for your or someone else's correct answer(s)
41 months ago
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frances3agape 41 months ago
Oh, yeah. Had forgotten about those 2 similarly themed ones.
Tomorrow I will google your EXCELLENT question. (Its 1am and time for Alfred Hitchcock Presents on you-know-where!)
MichaelSkaggs 41 months ago
I read about Mel's car crash in an issue of "Starlog" around 1986. Dr. Conway said he asked Bugs how he was doing out of tired frustration at the end of an exam. It worked. He then asked other characters how they were doing, Daffy, Porky, ect. All of them said they were alright. For the next several days he asked the characters how they were doing rather than Mel.
jaelinsmith40652 41 months ago
Amazingly thankfully mel blanc was okay about his accident going on as I read the research about his life. He still one of the greatest father of the million voices that he did from warner bros. To Hanna Barbera shows and other TV shows that he did alot in my life.
15inchBlackandWhite 41 months ago
Mel Blanc's accident resulted in a handful of Flintstones episodes where Daws Butler had to voice Barney. You can hear the difference in reruns.
Yes, and the difference is so noticeable that Blanc recorded shows from his hospital bed!
cperrynaples 41 months ago
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frances3agape cperrynaples 41 months ago
THAT shows his utmost DEDICATION to his craft
please see my comment to cperrynaples
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