Bugs Bunny is a fictional character who appears in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodiesanimated films produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions, which became Warner Bros. Cartoons in 1945. In 2002, he was named by TV Guide as the greatest cartoon character of all time, an honor he shares with Mickey Mouse. Currently, he is the corporate mascot for Warner Brothers, especially its animated productions. Bugs starred in 163 shorts in the Golden Age of American animation, and made cameos in three others along with a few appearances in non-animated films. series of
According to Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare, he was "born" in 1940 in
Brooklyn, New York, created by Tex Avery (who directed A Wild Hare, Bugs Bunny's debut) and Robert McKimson (who created the definitive Bugs Bunny character design), among many others. According to Mel Blanc, the character's original voice actor, Bugs Bunny has a Flatbush accent, an equal blend of the Bronx and Brooklyn dialects (of the New York Accent). His catchphrase is a casual "Eh...what's up, doc?", usually said while chewing a carrot. His other popular phrases include "Of course you realize...this means war" and "Ain't I a stinker?"
An unnamed rabbit bearing some of the personality, if not physical characteristics of Bugs, first appeared in the cartoon short Porky's Hare Hunt, released on April 30, 1938. Co-directed by Ben Hardaway and an uncredited Cal Dalton (who was responsible for the initial design of the rabbit), this short had a theme almost identical to that of the 1937 cartoon, Porky's Duck Hunt (directed by Tex Avery), which had introduced Daffy Duck. Porky Pig was again cast as a hunter tracking another nutty prey who seemed less interested in escape than in driving his pursuer insane; this short replaced the black duck with a small white rabbit. The rabbit introduces himself with the odd expression "Jiggers, fellers", and Mel Blanc gave the rabbit nearly the voice and laugh that he would later use for Woody Woodpecker. This cartoon also features the famous Groucho Marx line that Bugs would use many times: "Of course you know, this means war!" The rabbit developed a following from the audience viewing this cartoon which inspired the Schlesinger staff to further develop the character.
Jones, where he is the pet rabbit of unseen character Sham-Fu the Magician. Two dogs, fleeing the local dogcatcher, enter his absent master's house. The rabbit harasses them, but is ultimately bested by the bigger of the two dogs.
His third appearance was in another 1939 cartoon, Hare-um Scare-um, directed by Dalton and Hardaway. This short, the first where he was depicted as a gray bunny instead of a white one, is also notable both for the rabbit's first singing role. Charlie Thorson, lead animator on the short, was the first to give the character a name. He had written "Bugs' Bunny" on the model sheet that he drew for Hardaway, implying that he considered the rabbit model sheet to be Hardaway's property. In promotional material for the short (such as a surviving 1939 presskit), the name on the model sheet was altered to become the rabbit's own name: "Bugs" Bunny (quotation marks only used at the very beginning), evidently named in honor of "Bugs" Hardaway.
In Chuck Jones' Elmer's Candid Camera the rabbit first encounters Elmer Fudd. This rabbit has more of a physical resemblance to the present-day Bugs, being taller and having a more similar face. The voice for this rabbit, however, was not similar to the well-known Brooklyn-Bronx accent, but spoke in a rural drawl. In Robert Clampett's 1940 Patient Porky, a similar rabbit appears to trick the audience into thinking that 750 rabbits have been born (however the design is of the earlier white rabbit).
In his later years, Mel Blanc stated that a proposed name was "Happy Rabbit".[Ironically, the only time the name "Happy" was used was in reference to Bugs Hardaway. In the cartoon Hare-um Scare-um, the newspaper headline reads, "Happy Hardaway"