Bugs Bunny, the iconic cartoon character that has appeared in numerous films and television shows over the last 75 years has amassed an amazing history of public appearances. He has been in more films than any other cartoon character, is the ninth most portrayed film character in history and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bugs Bunny appeared in public for the first time on 27 July 1940 in a Tex Avery directed cartoon called A Wild Hare. Bugs was an animated character created by Leon Schlesinger Productions with a voice-over by Mel Blanc – known as the man of a thousand voices. The production was a great success, and created an immediate demand for further Bugs Bunny appearances.
This was right in the middle of the period of America’s “Golden Age of Animation”, when many famous cartoon characters emerged before a captivated public, with Bugs Bunny very much to the fore. His appeal was universal, delighting both children and adults with his madcap antics and distinctively American humour.
He became the main character in Merrie Melodies and the Looney Tunes series producing rising national and international fame and operating under the Warner Brothers Cartoons banner.
More Bugs Bunny films followed right through the 1940’s, particularly during Word War Two, when he became a favourite figure in the United States Military Forces. He was a mascot for several Air Force groups and was also made an honorary Master Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.
His fame continued right through into the modern era, with perhaps his greatest accolade being bestowed in 2002 when he was voted number one cartoon character of all time by the influential magazine TV Guide. The Editor summed up the Bugs Bunny phenomenon very neatly:
His stock has never gone down. Bugs is the best example of the smart-aleck American comic. He 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.
The magnificent full-length feature animated movies of today, using high-end computer graphics, all have their origins in the early days of the Bugs Bunny era, a time of innovation and pioneering spirit in the industry.
Image: A depiction of Bugs Bunny’s evolution throughout the years. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.