Thursday, October 15, 2009

The History of Bugs Bunny: "Porky's Hare Hunt"

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".

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