When most people think of rabbits, they think of the legendary cartoon character, Bugs Bunny. For those that don’t know who Bugs Bunny is, he’s the gray rabbit from Looney Tunes and Merrie’s Melodies. According to his fictional biography, Bugs Bunny was born 1940 in Brooklyn, NY. His accent is a cross between a Brooklyn accent and a Bronx accent.
The character Bugs Bunny was influenced by an early Disney character, Max Hare. Hare starred in many Disney cartoons and even won a Academy Award for Animated Short film in 1934. Bugs Bunny appeared in his first short cartoon in 1938, entitled Porky’s Hare Hunt. The cartoon short was directed by Ben Hardaway and Cal Dalton. Ben Hardaway’s nickname was “bugs”. The introduction cartoon of Bugs Bunny was very similar to a 1937 cartoon called Porky’s Duck Hunt, which introduced the soon to be famous Daffy Duck.
Porky’s Hare Hunt followed the general plot of the 1937 cartoon, Porky’s Duck Hunt , in which Porky pig was a hunter against a prey (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck) which was more interested in driving Porky crazy rather than run away from him.
Bugs Bunny made his second cartoon appearance 1939, in a cartoon entitled Prest-O-Change-O, in which he plays the rabbit of a magician who is never seen on camera.
Bugs Bunny’s fourth and probably most memorable appearance was in the 1940 short cartoon entitled Elmer’s Candid Camera, in which both characters would meet and start a long war that is still very much alive today. The personality in which Bugs Bunny is famous for emerged in 1940 on Tex Avery’s Wild Hare.
It was in this episode that for the first time, Bugs Bunny would come up out of his rabbit hole and utter the now famous quote “what’s up, Doc?” to Elmer Fudd. According to many cartoon historians this short cartoon was the first time Bugs Bunny was shown in full character, because most of the other short cartoons he appeared in didn’t fully resemble Bugs Bunny in looks or personality. On Bugs Bunny’s seventh television appearance, he finally got the name Bugs Bunny.
In 1941 Bugs Bunny became enormously popular in mainstream American culture and he would also go on to become the most popular characters of the Looney Tunes cast. In 1942 Bugs Bunny became the star of Merrie’s Melodies, which was a cartoon show that featured one shot cartoon shorts. Also in 1942 Bugs Bunny would undergo a few redesigns to his front teeth to make them stand out more, his head was also redesigned to look more round.
Bugs Bunny was also very popular during World War II, appearing in a two minute U.S war bonds commercial called Any Bonds Today. In 1944 Bugs Bunny was at odds with a group of Japanese soldiers, Bugs was praised for this during World War II, but the cartoon has since been pulled from distribution due to its stereotypes.
Today Bugs Bunny is still a very hardworking show biz man, being the mascot for Warner Brothers, having a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, being featured on a postage stamp and appearing in countless commercials.