Bugs Bunny is the main character of Looney Tunes and the Warner Bros. Icon. He is very sly and charismatic as he's shown to find a way to defeat Elmer Fudd and his other enemies. He's also frenemies with Daffy Duck who vies to be in Bugs' shoes. Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray hare or rabbit who is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality, a pronounced New York accent, his portrayal as a trickster, and his catch phrase "Eh... What's up, doc?", usually said while chewing a carrot.
While Porky's Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny-like rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon. It is the first film where both Elmer Fudd and Bugs (both redesigned by Bob Givens) are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor, respectively; the first in which Mel Blancuses what would become Bugs' standard voice; and the first in which Bugs uses his catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" A Wild Hare was a huge success in theaters and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.
For the film Avery asked Givens to remodel the rabbit. The result had a closer resemblance to Max Hare. He had a more elongated body, stood more erect, and looked more poised. If Thorson's rabbit looked like an infant, Givens' version looked like an adolescent. Blanc gave Bugs the voice of a city slicker. The rabbit was as audacious as he had been in Hare-um Scare-um and as cool and collected as in Prest-O Change-O.
Immediately following on A Wild Hare, Bob Clampett's Patient Porky (1940) features a cameo appearance by Bugs, announcing to the audience that 750 rabbits have been born. The gag uses Bugs' Wild Hare visual design, but his goofier pre-Wild Hare voice characterization.
The second full-fledged role for the mature Bugs, Chuck Jones' Elmer's Pet Rabbit (1941), is the first to use Bugs' name on-screen: it appears in a title card, "featuring Bugs Bunny," at the start of the film (which was edited in following the success of A Wild Hare). However, Bugs' voice and personality in this cartoon is noticeably different, and his design was slightly altered as well; Bugs' visual design is based on the prototype rabbit in Candid Camera, but with yellow gloves and no buck teeth, has a lower-pitched voice and a more aggressive, arrogant and thuggish personality instead of a fun loving personality. After Pet Rabbit, however, subsequent Bugs appearances returned to normal: the Wild Hare visual design returned, and Blanc re-used the Wild Hare voice characterization. The Wild Hare personality also returned as well.
Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (1941), directed by Friz Freleng, became the second Bugs Bunny cartoon to receive an Academy Award nomination. The fact that it didn't win the award was later spoofed somewhat in What's Cookin' Doc? (1944), in which Bugs demands a recount (claiming to be a victim of "sa-bo-TAH-gee") after losing the Oscar to Jimmy Cagney and presents a clip from Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt to prove his point.
World War II Edit
By 1942, Bugs had become the number one star of Merrie Melodies. The series was originally intended only for one-shot characters in films after several early attempts to introduce characters (Foxy, Goopy Geer and Piggy) failed under Harman–Ising. By the mid-1930s, under Leon Schlesinger, Merrie Melodies started introducing newer characters. Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (1942) shows a slight redesign of Bugs, with less-prominent front teeth and a rounder head. The character was reworked by Robert McKimson, then an animator in Clampett's unit. The redesign at first was only used in the films created by Clampett's unit, but in time it would be taken up by the other directors, with Freleng and Frank Tashlin the first. When McKimson was himself promoted to director, he created yet another version, with more slanted eyes, longer teeth and a much larger mouth. He used this version until 1949 (as didArt Davis for the one Bugs Bunny film he directed) when he started using the version he had designed for Clampett. Jones would come up with his own slight modification, and the voice had slight variations between the units. Bugs also made cameos in Avery's final Warner Bros. cartoon, Crazy Cruise.
Since Bugs' debut in A Wild Hare, he appeared only in color Merrie Melodies films (making him one of the few recurring characters created for that series in the Schlesinger era prior to the full conversion to color), alongside Elmer predecessor Egghead, Inki, Sniffles, and Elmer himself. While Bugs made a cameo in Porky Pig's Feat (1943), this was his only appearance in a black-and-white Looney Tunes film. He did not star in a Looney Tunes film until that series made its complete conversion to only color cartoons beginning in 1944. Buckaroo Bugs was Bugs' first film in the Looney Tunes series, and was also the last Warner Bros. cartoon to credit Schlesinger (as he had retired and sold his studio to Warner Bros. that year).
Bugs' popularity soared during World War II because of his free and easy attitude, and he began receiving special star billing in his cartoons by 1943. By that time Warner Bros. had become the most profitable cartoon studio in the United States. In company with cartoon studios such as Disney and Famous Studios, Warners pitted its characters against Adolf Hitler,Benito Mussolini, and the Japanese. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (1944) features Bugs at odds with a group of Japanese soldiers. This cartoon has since been pulled from distribution due to its depiction of Japanese people. He also faces off against Hermann Göring and Hitler inHerr Meets Hare (1945), which introduced his well-known reference to Albuquerque as he mistakenly winds up in the Black Forest of 'Joimany' instead of Las Vegas, Nevada. Bugs also appeared in the 1942 two-minute U.S. war bonds commercial film Any Bonds Today, along with Porky and Elmer.
At the end of Super-Rabbit (1943), Bugs appears wearing a United States Marine Corps dress blue uniform. As a result, the Marine Corps made Bugs an honorary Marine Master Sergeant. From 1943 to 1946, Bugs was the official mascot of Kingman Army Airfield, Kingman, Arizona, where thousands of aerial gunners were trained during World War II. Some notable trainees included Clark Gable and Charles Bronson. Bugs also served as the mascot for 530 Squadron of the 380th Bombardment Group, 5th Air Force, U.S. Air Force, which was attached to the Royal Australian Air Force and operated out of Australia's Northern Territoryfrom 1943 to 1945, flying B-24 Liberator bombers. Bugs riding an air delivered torpedo served as the squadron logo for Marine Torpedo/Bomber Squadron 242 in the Second World War. Additionally, Bugs appeared on the nose of B-24J #42-110157, in both the 855th Bomb Squadron of the 491st Bombardment Group (Heavy) and later in the 786th BS of the 466th BG(H), both being part of the 8th Air Force operating out of England.
Bugs (standing in for Porky Pig) in the closing to Hare Tonic (1945) andBaseball Bugs (1946).
In 1944, Bugs Bunny made a cameo appearance inJasper Goes Hunting, a Puppetoons film produced by rival studio Paramount Pictures. In this cameo (animated by McKimson, with Blanc providing the usual voice), Bugs (after being threatened at gunpoint) pops out of a rabbit hole, saying his usual catchphrase; after hearing the orchestra play the wrong theme song, he realizes "Hey, I'm in the wrong picture!" and then goes back in the hole. Bugs also made a cameo in the Private Snafu short Gas, in which he is found stowed away in the titular private's belongings; his only spoken line is his usual catchphrase.
Although it was usually Porky Pig who brought the Looney Tunes films to a close with his stuttering, "That's all, folks!", Bugs replaced him at the end of Hare Tonic and Baseball Bugs, bursting through a drum just as Porky did, but munching on a carrot and saying in his Bronx-Brooklyn accent, "And that's the end!"
- No one character can trick Bugs Bunny.
- Bugs makes a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.