Happy birthday, Bugs!

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bugs Bunny anniversary: How the rabbit stayed popular for decades.

Bugs Bunny, the carrot-chewing cartoon character – one of the most recognized of the Warner Bros. personalities – is celebrating his 75th birthday.Bugs Bunny turns 75 on July 27, and while the famous cartoon rabbit hasn’t aged a day, Time took a look back at just how much the hare has changed since his debut.

Bugs Bunny made his debut in 1940 on “A Wild Hare,” directed by Tex Avery, and coined his signature phrase “What’s up, Doc?” Soon after, the show received an Academy Award nomination for best original short. “A Wild Hare” lost to another cartoon entitled “The Milky Way.” Warner Bros., however, will not be celebrating the famous rabbit’s birthday, especially because the character’s creation is somewhat elusive. On “Looney Tunes” animator Chuck Jones’s Facebook page, a note about “Wild Hare” director Tex Avery was posted, with six tips Jones learned from Avery about art and animation. While Bugs would have been known to the parents of Baby Boomers from the beginning of the cartoons, Baby Boomers themselves encountered the Looney Tunes characters in the animated shorts that ran in movie theaters and on TV. (One of Bugs’ most famous cartoon appearances, the short “What’s Opera, Doc?,” was released in 1957.) How do Millennials know the characters? However, some believe that cartoonist Charles Thorson designed Bugs Bunny for Hardaway, captioning, rather than naming, his sketch as “Bugs’ Bunny.” Bugs quickly gained popularity.

There were cutesy rabbits and wacky rabbits, but those rabbits aren’t Bugs. (One distinction, Jones explained, was that Bugs’ craziness always serves a purpose–in contrast to the unhinged Daffy Duck.) The Wild Hare bunny is uncredited, though that changed before the year was up. In 1949, he was featured in Jones’ animated film, “Long-Haired Hare.” Throughout the 1950s the character appeared in many other films including “What’s Opera Doc?,” “Rabbit Rampage,” and “Knighty Knight Bugs.” Just 14 years after his birth, the bunny was more popular than Mickey Mouse, Time noted. In 1987, Bugs’ popularity continued to show no end when the ABC show “The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show” topped the charts as the network’s No. 1 kid’s show, Variety reported. A smaller audience was exposed to the Looney cast in 2003 with the movie “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” which did not perform well at the box office.

However, the film may be developing a following – multiple media outlets have called the movie “underrated.” And Bugs and his friends appear to still be in audiences’ minds today, with recent lists rating Bugs as the second-best cartoon character of all time (behind only Homer Simpson) and “Looney Tunes” itself as the third-best cartoon show of all time. In 1979, when The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie came out, TIME critic Richard Schickel noted that “it is possible that some day Animator Chuck Jones may come to be regarded as the American Bunuel” for the fact that Jones and the groundbreaking surrealist filmmaker so well understood the psychological underpinnings of comedy.

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