Bugs Bunny’s milestone 80th birthday year coincides with the debut of Looney Tunes Cartoons, the critically acclaimed HBO Max Original series produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Warner Bros. is throwing a celebration like no other.
A Wild Hare
Tex Avery (1940)
Bugs’s nonchalant stance, as explained many years later by Chuck Jones, and again by Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett, comes from the 1934 movie It Happened One Night, from a scene where Clark Gable’s character is leaning against a fence eating carrots more quickly than he is swallowing (as Bugs would later do), giving instructions with his mouth full to Claudette Colbert’s character. This scene was so famous at the time that most people immediately saw the connection.
The line, “What’s up, Doc?”, was added by director Tex Avery for this film. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in Texas where he was from, and he didn’t think much of the phrase. But when this short was screened in theaters, the scene of Bugs calmly chewing a carrot, followed by the nonchalant “What’s Up, Doc?”, went against any 1940s audience’s expectation of how a rabbit might react to a hunter and caused complete pandemonium in the audience, bringing down the house in every theater. As a result of this popularity, Bugs eats a carrot and utters some version of the phrase in almost every one of his cartoons; sometimes entirely out of context.
Porky’s Hare Hunt
Ben “Bugs” Hardaway & Cal Dalton (1938)
While Porky’s Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny-like rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon.
The first “true” appearance of Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Elmer is a dimwitted hunter, “wooking for wabbits.” Bugs is a clever, smooth-talking character, who confuses Elmer with double-talk and misdirection. Elmer is no match for the wascally wabbit, even when he thinks Bugs is dead.
To see more Bugs Bunny cartoons click here: https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:looney-tunes?utm_id=sa%7c71700000067032079%7c58700005866967669%7cp53640660949&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5OX60syo6gIVNh6tBh2I4w08EAAYASAAEgJ-9_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
Happy Birthday, Bugs. Thanks for the years of laughter.