Everyone’s favorite wacky wascally wabbit, the sarcastic, cross-dressing Bugs Bunny, was born to immediate popularity an unbelievable 75 years ago.
It was July 27, 1940, that Bugs made his film debut in A Wild Hare. He had a different animator back then — Virgil Ross — and hadn’t been christened with his catchy name yet, but that cartoon is officially regarded as the famous bunny’s first, Time reported.
His story began 75 years ago with several different rabbit characters in Warner Brothers’ early days — cute ones and crazy ones, but none quite as special as the rabbit we know and love. These early incarnations — with the silly name “Happy Rabbit” — starred in four films, including 1938’s Porky’s Hare Hunt, CBS News added.
The early Bugs was smaller and had a Woody Woodpecker-style laugh. The film was directed by Ben “Bugs” Hardaway, who ended up inspiring the name. Mel Blanc, who provided his smart-alecky voice, wanted to name the character after Hardaway — another legend has it that a designer drew up the sketch at the director’s request, and captioned it “Bugs’ bunny.”
Either way, the character of “Happy Rabbit” was revamped for A Wild Hare. He wasn’t afraid of hunters, was very sarcastic, casual, and liked to chomp on carrots. When Mel saw drawings of the new character, called a “a tough little stinker,” he heard a Brooklyn accent in his head.
Everyone’s favorite cocky bunny was born, and we’ve been laughing for 75 years.
His star power was instant and his catchphrase, “What’s up, doc?,” was a hit the first time it escaped his mouth. By 1954, he bested Mickey Mouse as the nation’s favorite cartoon character. For the next 30 years, he was the lead in 170 more shorts, and in 1964, one of them (Knighty-Knight, Bugs) won an Academy Award.
However, many people believe What’s Opera, Doc? is Bugs Bunny’s best. He evades Elmer Fudd and puts on some women’s clothes. The Library of Congress even inducted it into its National Film Registry.
Over 75 years of cartoons, which one’s your favorite?
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