What’s Up, Doc? All The Things You Never Knew About Your Favorite Cartoon Rabbit
Bugs Bunny was first created in the 1930s by Warner Brothers and ever since the cartoon rabbit has been on everyone’s televisions sets. He’s a quirky smart-mouthed rabbit that is always getting into trouble.
No one at the company could have imagined that the character would collect so much history and scandals. Sit back, relax, get a carrot, and read on to learn a lot about this timeless happy rabbit.
Bugs Bunny Originally Looked Quite Different
Bugs Bunny was born actually as an accident. Warner Bros. wanted to reuse some of Daffy Duck’s old jokes in a short and someone suggested that Daffy be dressed in a rabbit suit.
The first-ever appearance made by Bugs was April 30, 1938, in Porky’s Hare Hunt. As the picture indicates, Bugs’ original look didn’t stick.
Where He Got His Name
Even though Chuck Jones was the animator for Looney Tunes at the time, Ben Hardaway was the original designer of Bugs Bunny or should we say Happy Rabbit.
Hardaway originally named him Happy Rabbit but some colleagues started calling the bunny Bugs after Hardaway’s own nickname at the studio. The name stuck and now you know how he got his name.
They Didn’t Want Bugs To Be A Bully
When they designed Bugs, they really didn’t want audiences thinking he was a bully, so the writers never had Bugs start the fights, only end them. He would defend himself whenever someone else started the fight.
You’ll notice that in many shorts Bugs will be minding his own when a character like Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck will decide to rile him up.
He Was Born In New York
You’d remember that Bugs was always trying to get to Albuquerque? Well, he was actually born in Brooklyn, New York and that’s why he has the accent.
But Bugs was actually conceptualized by Mel Blanc and Hardaway in Los Angeles so you could say he’s from there or was at least given life there.
He Changed The Word “Nimrod”
Bugs Bunny was so popular that he changed the definition of a word! Before then, Nimrod referred to a great hunter named after the biblical character – Nimrod.
So since Bugs would call Elmer Fudd Nimrod sarcastically so often, everyone in America adopted it too! This just shows how influential Bugs has been in the hearts and minds of everyone.
Bugs Helped His Creator Out Of A Coma
Now we’re not saying that Bugs actually woke him up himself. But in 1961 his creator, Mel Blanc, was in a car accident that left him comatose.
He was unconscious for weeks until a surgeon jokingly said “Bugs! Bugs Bunny! How are you doing today?” Blanc woke up and replied, “Eeee, what’s up Doc?”
Bugs Has Made The Most Appearances Of Any Cartoon Character
Bugs had officially appeared in more films than any other cartoon character ever! He’s also the ninth most portrayed world wide. He’s been in over 160 short films in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
Everyone remembers his iconic appearance in Space Jam as the leader of the toon squad.
He’s Only Ever Been Outbeaten Four Times
You already know that Bugs always end fights but doesn’t start them. He’s only ever lost to Cecil Turtle because of the whole “tortoise and the hare” thing. A Gremlin and a mouse that we don’t know the name of.
His fourth loss was against his long-running nemesis Elmer Fudd, who finally beat him in his last appearance in the show.
Clark Gable Inspired Bugs To Eat Carrots
Created characters always have certain mannerisms to help them stand out. Think of Clark Gable in It Happened One Night, you see where we’re going?
Gable is a fast-talking trickster, much like our rabbit. There’s a scene in the movie when seen leaning against a fence chowing on a carrot.
HE HAS A STAR ON THE WALK OF FAME
Bugs Bunny is one of the first two cartoon characters to land a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bugs got his star in 1985, just seven years after his rival cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Now, he is one of seventeen fictional characters with a star, and the only character from Warner Bros. entertainment.
Now, he is one of seventeen cartoon characters with a star, and the only character from Warner Bros. entertainment.
BUGS IS AN HONORARY MEMBER OF THE US MARINES
During Super Rabbit, of his many WW2 propaganda shorts, Bugs Bunny appears to be wearing the dress blues of the US Marines. Because of this, the Marines named him an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.
Bugs also served as the mascot to several divisions of the US Marines for years following WW2. For example, from 1943 to 1946, Bugs was the official mascot of Kingman Army Airfield located in Arizona. Charles Bronson and Clark Gable both trained there!
MEL BLANC WOULD EAT CARROTS WHILE RECORDING
One rumor that seems never to go away is that the creator and voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, was ironically allergic to carrots. Well, the rumor isn’t true.
In fact, Blanc was known to get so into character that he would chomp on carrots during recording sessions to make the sound more realistic. There’s just not another food that would have sounded like a carrot being chomped! It’s really a good thing Blanc wasn’t allergic.
BUGS BUNNY IS OFFICIALLY A RABBIT, NOT A HARE
Even though Bugs debuted in A Wild Hare, he is most definitely not a hare. A hare doesn’t live in a burrow, and their fur color will change over time. Also, rabbits and hares even eat different foods. Rabbits like grass and veggies such as carrots, but hares eat twigs and bark.
Even though biologist rule that Bugs is most definitely not a hare, the cartoon uses the terms interchangeably because there are no rules in the Looney Tunes universe.
CHARLIE CHAPLIN AND GROUCHO MARX INSPIRED HIS PERSONALITY
Two personalities from the 1930s that served as inspiration for Bugs’ personality. Charlie Chaplin’s goofy but witty character was the basis for animating Bugs.
Groucho Marx’s line, “Of course you realize this means war!” was lifted straight from Hollywood and became a classic phrase for Bugs Bunny. Marx first used the line in the 1933 film Duck Soup and then again in 1935’s A Night at the Opera.
HE MADE IT ONTO A STAMP BEFORE MICKEY MOUSE DID
Mickey may have beat him to a Walk of Fame Star, but Bugs Bunny was the first cartoon character to appear on an official US Postal Service stamp. The stamp debuted in 1997 and managed to become quite a controversy.
Many people thought that the stamp was too “commercialized” and Mickey Mouse fans weren’t happy about the fact that Bugs had beaten them to it. Gee, ain’t that a stinker.
YOU CAN VISIT BUGS BUNNY WORLD!
If you’re itchin’ to meet Bugs in person, you can do so at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. The park has a Bugs Bunny World, renamed for the cartoon varmint in 1985.
In 1999, the park hosted a huge celebrity-filled bash. It gave proceeds to Comic Relief and to the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Here is Bugs with his pals Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito at the event.
HE’S OFFICIALLY A SENIOR CITIZEN
Bugs Bunny “officially” turned 75 years old on July 27, 2015. The date marks the first time he made his appearance in Tex Avery’s short “Wild Hare.”
Warner Bros. doesn’t celebrate animated characters’ birthdays so there wasn’t a big public fuss. But we hope that Mr. Bunny was able to enjoy himself some carrot cake for the big day, and for his 80th birthday which took place in July of 2020.
BUGS IS STILL POPULAR AMONG CELEBS
Bugs Bunny is still a popular attraction at Six Flags Magic Mountain. In this 2008 photo we see a young Justin Beiber visiting the park and saying hello to Bugs and Daffy. Other Looney Tunes characters with rides or attractions include Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, and Daffy Duck.
Magic Mountain opened its 19th roller coaster in Bugs Bunny world in 2014. There are many places where Bugs’ fans can go to visit their favorite rabbit!
TV GUIDE THINKS BUGS IS THE BEES KNEES
TV Guide named Bugs Bunny the #1 cartoon character of all time in 2002. As one editor explained, “His stock…has never gone down…Bugs is the best example…of the smart-aleck American comic.”
He continued, “[Bugs] not only is a great cartoon character, he’s a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops.” Those are words of high praise!
THE VOICES AFTER MEL
A lot of voice actors have been Bugs Bunny over the years. Mel Blanc, of course, was the original voice. Sadly, Mel passed away from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 1989.
There’s a pretty lengthy list of all the actors who have voiced Bugs over the years. Seth MacFarlane, Darrell Hammond, Dave Barry, Eric Bauza, Bill Farmer, Jeff Bergman, Joe Alaskey, Greg Burson, John Kassir, and Billy West are just a few!
BILLY WEST AND SPACE JAM
Billy West played Bugs in 1996’s Space Jam. He later told Vice that he got lots of input when it came to voicing the iconic character.
“Space Jam was weird because everybody has their own perception of what Bugs Bunny should sound like. Everybody. Somebody would just stick their head in the door and say, ‘He sounds too Jewish.’ Or, ‘He’s too tough, he’s off-putting. You gotta seduce kids, not scare them out the door.’”
THE LOONEY TUNES INSPIRE GRAFFITI
Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil (Taz), and many of the other Looney Tunes cartoons continue to inspire graffiti artists. There are even tutorials online that tell you how to tag a building with your favorite character.
This particular graffiti version of Bugs is from Paris, taken in April of 2018. People pay good money for prints, photos, and merchandise of Looney Tunes graffiti art, too. What’s up with that, doc?
BUGS GOT TO CONDUCT THE SYMPHONY
In 2015, The Los Angeles Philharmonic held a special event called “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II.” Bugs has appeared in many of his cartoons as a symphony conductor, and for this event, his image was projected onto the screen.
The evening’s true conductor, George Daugherty, was gracious to share the stage with our favorite bunny. The LA Phil even has a page on its website dedicated to “Artist” Bugs Bunny.
CHUCK JONES MADE A TON OF ANIMATED FILMS
Although many consider Ben Hardaway to be Bugs’ official creator, Chuck Jones was a contributing developer. Jones was a prolific filmmaker, with 300 titles and three Oscars to his name. He’s responsible for many of the most beloved animated characters we know today.
Just a couple of the titles he worked on are How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and 1979’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Jones received an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1996.
THE CHUCK JONES EXPERIENCE
Fans of Chuck Jones (and animation) got a special treat in 2012 when Circus Circus Las Vegas opened an exhibition showcasing his art. The gallery featured lots of Jones’ artwork and some interactive elements.
Here, visitors can see how they stack up against some of the most famous Looney Tunes. According to Vegas Inc, the exhibition was “an offshoot of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Orange County, California.”
BOB GIVENS WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN BUGS’ DESIGN
Animator Bob Givens worked alongside Tex Avery and Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. Studios. Ben Hardaway had already designed the initial version of Bugs Bunny, and for a new animation called “A Wild Hare,” Givens was asked to redraw the character to be less “cutesy.”
Givens was responsible for the version of Bugs Bunny that we’re all the most familiar with. Fellow animator and sometimes collaborator Robert McKimson then tweaked Givens’ design a bit.
GIVENS HAD A LONG CAREER
During his 60+ year career, Bob Givens worked at Disney and Hanna-Barbera studios, in addition to Warner Bros. Before joining up with Avery and Jones on the Bugs Bunny character, he’d worked on Disney’s classic film Snow White.
He also did the layout for seasons 1 through 4 of the popular series Garfield and Friends, from 1988 to 1992. Sadly, Givens died in December 2017. He was 99 years old.
PSYCHOLOGISTS USE HIM IN FALSE MEMORY STUDIES
Psychologists have used Bugs Bunny to dupe their patients for years. In studies, the scientists will show the test subjects fake advertisements of Disney World that features Bugs Bunny.
Of course, Warner Bros. has no connection to Disney, so Bugs will never be featured at Disney World. If the patient says they remember meeting Bugs at Disney World, so the psychologists know the memory is false. That’s pretty tricky, doc!
BUGS, BACK IN ACTION
You just can’t keep a good Bugs down. He returned to the big screen for the 2003 animation/live-action film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. The star-studded cast of this movie included Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman, Joan Cusack, Heather Locklear, Brendan Fraser, and more.
It was the last film to be produced by Warner Bros. Feature Animation. Joe Alaskey voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the film.