Today is not only Memorial Day, it's also the birthday of the voice behind many of the most beloved cartoon characters of all time. In his more than 50 years in Hollywood, Mel Blanc (1908-1989) gave audiences countless "Merry Melodies" via Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, and Sylvester the Cat, said to be the character closest to Blanc's natural speaking voice. (Sufferin' succotash!)
But besides the Looney Tunes stable, Blanc voiced such characters as "Sy the Little Mexican" on Jack Benny's radio show in the '30s. He was the original voice of Woody Woodpecker and Barney Rubble on The Flintstones, one of several characters Blanc did for Hanna-Barbera after moving over from Warner Bros. in the early '60s. He kept working into the '80s, voicing Twiki the robot in Buck Rogers and reprising Sylvester, Tweety and a few other Looney Tunes favorites in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Towering head and shoulders (and ears) above the rest of Blanc's creations, though, is Bugs Bunny. Born either in a warren beneath Brooklyn's Ebbets Field or on famed animator Tex Avery's drafting board, Bugs first appeared in the 1940 short A Wild Hare, and continued to be voiced by Blanc until the latter's death, at which point he rivaled Mickey Mouse as one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time.
Bugs showed up a few years before rock and roll, so originally, his musical tastes ran more to opera, folk songs and Broadway. But he was irreverent, smart-assed, flirtatious and fond of dressing in drag, which makes him a rock star in our eyes. Since Bugs was so fond of breaking into song - and proved so adaptable to YouTube - here's a few of that wascawwy wabbit's greatest hits.
Square Dance from "Hillbilly Hare":
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.