86 Years Young: Bugs Bunny An Animated Genius and Cultural Icon

Although his biography states he was born in 1940, he has been on screens since April 30, 1938

by Sededin Dedovic
86 Years Young: Bugs Bunny An Animated Genius and Cultural Icon
© WB Kids / Youtube channel

In 1938, on April 30th, a cartoon was aired in which a mischievous rabbit set his own rules in the woods. Bugs Bunny celebrates his 86th birthday today. Born in Brooklyn, beloved worldwide, Bugs Bunny is the animated version of a stand-up comedian.

He's the greatest cartoon character of all time and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. From the very beginning of his career, Bugs Bunny enjoyed success. His official debut, "A Wild Hare," was nominated for the best animated film of the year.

He won the prestigious Academy Award, or Oscar, in 1959 with the film "Knighty Knight Bugs." Although his biography states he was born in 1940, he has been on screens since 1938. He was created by Tex Avery and Bob Givens, with Mel Blanc being the first of many to lend him his voice, a man of a thousand voices.

Looney Tunes© GenWB / youtube channel

After Mel Blanc, his voice was imitated by Jeff Bergman, Sam Vincent, Billy West, and Joe Alaskey. In most cases, he is just a rabbit munching on his carrot and in the initial scenes of the film, he doesn't bother anyone.

He doesn't attack unless provoked. He is a vengeful and reactive character who outwits everyone with cunning. Bugs Bunny appeared in various media and adaptations. One characteristic of this character is directly addressing the audience.

Lines he delivers while looking at the screen like "I'll be right back with you folks in a minute" and "Folks, you know this means war" resemble the performances of modern-day stand-up comedians. "He can quote Shakespeare and then tell you where the nearest bar in Brooklyn is," once said Billy West, one of Bugs's voice actors.

Looney Tunes© GenWB / YOutube channel

If you watched this cartoon as a child, you might not have understood the concepts of private property, capitalism, social security, and family disruption. Older viewers appreciated the animated film precisely for the values it promoted, such as individual rights, independence, and democracy.

"Hey, what's up, Doc?" He often says his most famous line while munching on a carrot, and the creators of this character claimed it was actually a Texan dialect and an imitation of a scene from the movie "It Happened One Night" where actor Clark Gable, leaning on a fence, munches on greens and speaks with his mouth full.

Chuck Jones wrote and drew the first comic strip about Bugs Bunny, but he believed that credit for creating the legend should not be attributed to him alone. "Bugs wasn't the creation of any one person; rather, he represented the creative talents of maybe six directors and many cartoon writers.

At that time, stories were often the product of a group suggesting various possibilities, rejecting them, and ending up with a group story conference," Craig said long ago.

Looney Tunes© GenWB 7 YOutube channel

The character's design changed over the years.

The film "Porky's Hare Hunt" brought the original design, and his first role was as the prey of Porky Pig, previously played by Daffy Duck. He behaved like a rural boss, was loud, and set his own rules. At first, Bugs Bunny was placed in typical American genres such as western and action, but later, in the seventies, there was a turnaround, and his character transitioned into new genres.

Instead of his mischief, the setting would become a museum, a concert hall, a symphony, or the opera "The Barber of Seville." The diversity of this animated film is evident in its reconstruction of the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's film "Psycho" with Bugs Bunny in the lead role.

Bugs Bunny is the animated character that appeared in the most films ever. Still, he's most recognized as the iconic figure of the golden age of American animation and the mascot of Warner Bros, particularly famous for his roles in the series "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies." The American TV Guide declared Bugs Bunny the greatest cartoon character of all time among 50 characters.

He was the first animated personality to appear on a postage stamp in America, a honor previously held only by historical figures. Bugs Bunny was "sentenced" to become a legend. He gained fame by amusing children in America and then around the world, during World War II, and until now, he has been a cherished favorite of audiences.

He would bid farewell to the audience with "Well, that's all folks!" until the next sighting. The creator of Bugs Bunny, Bob Givens, an animator and one of the conceptual creators of the Bugs Bunny character, passed away on December 14, 2017. Apart from Warner Bros, he also animated for Walt Disney and Hanna-Barbera.