Chuck Jones became a director in 1938, after Frank Tashlin had left (although Tashlin eventually came back in the early 40s). Jones is mostly known for the slapstick humor, and wordplay gags which were present in many of his classic cartoons from the mid-40s onward. But his first several shorts were more slow and Disney-like, and usually focused on cute, small animal characters like Sniffles the Mouse. "Prest-o Change-o" was the first short Jones made to feature a wacky character, in this case, the crazy white rabbit from "Porky's Hare Hunt".
Ben Hardaway and co-director Cal Dalton, went back to the "hunter chasing a crazy rabbit" schtick, and brought us a short entitled "Hare-um Scare-um". Hardaway and Dalton had character designer Charlie Thorson create a new design for the rabbit. Thorson made the character grey, and a rounder head and torso, big cheeks, and big big teeth. The model sheet was labeled "Bugs' Bunny". Because, remember, Hardaway's nickname was "Bugs". Warner Bros. merchandising department took note of this idea, and began calling the chatacter "Bugs Bunny" on certain products such as glasses and booklets.
As you may have noticed, the ending to the cartoon seems abrupt. Follow the link below to learn more about the censored ending: http://ramapithblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/legendbreakers-hare-um-scare-um.html
Bugs Bunny is the most recognizable Looney Tunes character ever, and undoubtfully the most popular. But the character came a long way, and developed under many hands before he became the cool rabbit we know today. Bugs' history actually begins with Tex Avery's 1937 short "Porky's Duck Hunt", which first introduced the world to the wisecracking waterfowl, Daffy Duck. It also marked the first time Porky Pig's stuttering vocals were supplied by the talented Mel Blanc (before, Porky had been voiced by Joe Doughtery, a man who has a real stutter). Although Daffy had not yet been named, he became very popular with audiences, and Avery directed a second short entitled "Daffy Duck and Egghead". It was the Duck's first cartoon in color. The short was written by Joseph Ben "Bugs" Hardaway".
In 1938, director Friz Freleng left Warner Bros. for MGM (it won't last long), and Bugs Hardaway was promoted as director. His first major idea was, as he told studio painter Martha Sigall, "put a rabbit suit on that duck." The realization of that idea was Hardaway's "Porky's Hare Hunt". The story was by Howard Baldwin (there sure are a lot of "Baldwins" in show business isn't there?).
Not that around the 3:30 mark, the rabbit does Woody Woodpecker's laugh, even though that character had not been created yet. That infamous laugh was created by Mel Blanc himself, and had actually thought it up while in school! Can you imagine the looks he must have gotten? As for "Hare Hunt" itself, the short is pretty funny, but i hesitate to call it a classic. Martha Sigall has used the word "unlikable" for the embryonic Bugs. One problem is the rabbit laughs manically everytime he either outsmarts or harms Porky and his hunting dog, making the character quite devious. But still, the whole idea of a "screwy wabbit" heckling a hapless hunter is there, and thankfully, the Boys of Termite Terrace didn't give up on attempting to further develope this new character.
Up Next: "Prest-o Change-o", and "Hare-Um Scare-Um".