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.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

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."

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24 Comments

forthekids 12 months ago
I remember seeing Mr.Mel Blanc on the popular NYC based kids tv variety show"Wonderama!"(when Bob McAllister servered as the series sixth adult host/performer)His appearance on that show was wonderful and alot of the kids..both in the studio audience and those watching at home..shared the love that this talented and sweet man had for them.
Tammilynn2010 12 months ago
RIP To the great Mel Blanc. He was truly phenomenal. I grew up loving the Looney Tunes cartoons, which were my absolute FAVORITES. I love ALL of the iconic and unforgettable Looney Tunes characters, but if I had to pick my two favorite characters they would be Bugs Bunny & Yosemite Sam.
Mel was completely over the top when doing Sam's voice, which had me in uncontrollable laughter & delight. Years later I discovered Mel Blanc was the voice for another of my favorite characters -- Dino from The Flintstones. Mel Blanc was INCREDIBLE.
WE LOVE YOU MEL !!!
RandySkretvedt 12 months ago
Elmer Fudd's voice was provided by Arthur Q. Bryan, whom you can also hear as "Doc Gamble" on the radio show "Fibber McGee and Molly." After he died, Mel Blanc and Hal Smith both tried to approximate the voice, without success.
Avie 13 months ago
"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."

It was, more specifically, a car crash.

As for

"That sort of thought went into developing many other cartoon characters such as Porky the Pig, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and more."

Just Porky Pig, not "Porky the Pig" any more than it's "Daffy the Duck."

Yeesh.
Marejim 13 months ago
My wife bought that print for me. I was a conductor for the New York City Transit Authority. Whenever we get to the last stop, I would get on the PA and do my imitation of Porky Pig.
Runeshaper 13 months ago
That's AMAZING! Nice that he was able to share this skill with his son too!
Bapa1 13 months ago
Mel Blanc was great, but I think he only did Elmer Fudd once.
madvincent 13 months ago
When Mel Blanc passed away, Warner Bros. released a tribute print with the characters Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester the cat, Tweety, Pepe Le Pew, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, and Daffy Duck bowing their heads with their eyes closed while facing an empty microphone in a spotlight with the word "Speechless" at the top. A very poignant and genius tribute.........
Bapa1 madvincent 13 months ago
I have seen that, it was great.
tootsieg madvincent 13 months ago
Very touching.
Gossemer madvincent 13 months ago
I remember that one. I could have purchased one but it hurt to look at. It only reminded me of the loss. Instead I got one of the Scarlet Pumpernickel.
QazWiz madvincent 12 months ago
I cried when i saw it.. still do, as i type this the tears are welling up... even, what is it? 35 years?
Big3Fan 13 months ago
Mr. Blanc was always hilarious on his Jack Benny radio and TV show appearances.
justjeff 13 months ago
Mel may have voiced over 1000 cartoon characters, but it wasn't unusual for him to "recycle one voice for another character. A perfect example was found on his own radio show, where a character named "Zookey" sounded just like Porky Pig - stutter and all... As for Noel Blanc... close, but no cigar. Many others like Joe Alasky, Billy West, Maurice Marchand, etc. have done 'closer' versions of Mel's characters.

No offense to Noel... I just find the timbre of his voice not as flexible as Mel's...

Th-th-th-th- That's all, folks!
frances3agape justjeff 13 months ago
Noel must have done the remake of WHAT'S OPERA DOC. There is definitely a difference in the 2 versions when Porky Pig sings the last song, calling up the curse/storm. The "Smog!" sounds are distinctly different.
forthekids justjeff 12 months ago
Mr.West also does "Popeye's"voice.
justjeff forthekids 12 months ago
Yes, Billy West is the later incarnation of Popeye... but the best of all time was (of course) Jack Mercer, despite not having originated the voice. The original Popeye was William "Red Pepepr Sam" Costello, who was fired by the Fleischer Studios after becoming too difficult to work with...

Jack Mercer voiced Popeye for nearly 50 years!

Since we're talking about cartoons, here's some trivia about children's TV: Ted Knight (at the age of 29) hosted a kiddie show in Providence, RI in 1954! I found this in an online edition of Radio-TV Mirror from that year...
justjeff justjeff 12 months ago
...and I also found this Eddie Albert piece. It's not about kiddie TV, but relevant nonetheless since Eddie co-stars on Green Acres...
.
LoveMETV22 13 months ago
What an excellent story Nice pic of Mel with his son Noel from Blanc Productions.
justjeff LoveMETV22 13 months ago
I thought that was a young Noel, but at first I drew a Blanc...
brooklyn42 justjeff 13 months ago
OMG! Are you Henny Youngman reincarnated?
justjeff brooklyn42 13 months ago
No, just another ex-Brooklynite who enjoys sharfing a laugh and a pun with the other posters on this forum...
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