Warner Bros. created Bugs Bunny in the 1930s, and the slick rabbit has been dominating TV screens around the world ever since. Bugs Bunny is fast-talking, smart, and always getting into trouble. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the legendary rabbit.
Who would ever think that a cartoon character would have so much scandal and history behind them? Lean up against a fence, pull out a carrot, and enjoy these entertaining facts about Bugs Bunny. From his humble origins to a possible clothesless scene (yes, it’s possible), there is more to Bugs than just two big ears and a fluffy tail.
Bugs Looks Different In His First Appearance
Bugs Bunny appeared kind of by accident. Warner Bros. had success with Daffy Duck and wanted to reuse some of his jokes in a new short. Someone suggested they “dress the duck in a rabbit suit” and Bugs was born.
On April 30, 1938, Bugs appeared with Porky Pig in Porky’s Hare Hunt, and the rest is history. As you can see, this version of Bugs looks nothing like the one we know today.
He Got His Name From His Animator
Chuck Jones is the longtime animator of all things Looney Tunes, but Bugs Bunny’s original designer was Ben “Bugs” Hardaway. When he was making the initial design, he named the character Happy Rabbit.
When Hardaway was tinkering with the original design of Bugs, fellow employees would refer to the new cartoon character as “Bugs’ Bunny.” The name caught on, and Warner Bros. changed the cartoon name from Happy Rabbit to Bugs Bunny.
The Creators Didn’t Want Bugs To Look Like A Bully
The creators were really worried about making sure that Bugs didn’t come off looking like a bully. It was an unwritten rule that Bugs didn’t start the fights, but that he would only be defending himself against people who were bothering him.
That’s why many of the shorts start with Bugs minding his own business before Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck begins to pick a fight.
Creators Say He Was Born In Brooklyn, New York
Even though he’s always trying to get to Albuquerque, Bugs Bunny was officially born in Brooklyn, New York. That’s why he is portrayed as a fast-talking trickster with a Brooklyn accent.
Of course, Bugs was actually born in the mind of Mel Blanc and the creators at Warner Bros. That, of course, means that even though they can claim that Bugs was born in New York, he was actually given life in Los Angeles.
Bugs Changed The Meaning Of The Word “Nimrod”
Bugs Bunny is so influential in American culture that he is the sole reason why America uses the term “nimrod” to mean idiot. Before Bugs, nimrod referred to a mighty hunter, named after the Biblical figure Nimrod.
Bugs would sarcastically compare Elmer Fudd to Nimrod, and America picked up the phrase. The fact that the cartoon was able to change the definition of an established word shows just how much of a lasting impact it had on the world.
Bugs Saved His Creator From A Coma
Okay, Bugs Bunny himself didn’t come to life and perform CPR. But In 1961, Mel Blanc was in a car accident that left him unconscious in a coma.
Doctors couldn’t wake him up for weeks until on surgeon, as a joke, said “Bugs! Bugs Bunny! How are you doing today?” and Blanc replied, “Eeee, what’s up Doc?” Fortunately, Blanc recovered. He continued working even while he was in a full-body cast.
He Holds The Record For Most Film Appearances For A Cartoon Character
As of January 2013, Bugs Bunny has officially appeared in more films than any other cartoon character and is the ninth most-portrayed film personality in the world. In fact, the lovable rabbit has starred in more than 160 theatrical animated short films of the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies.
Of course, we all know his most iconic film role was as the leader of the Toon Squad in 1996’s Space Jam.
He Has Only “Lost” A Fight Four Times
Bugs doesn’t pick the fights, and he rarely loses them either. Cecil Turtle always beats Bugs because the two are supposed to be like the Tortoise and the Hare. A Gremlin and a nameless mouse are the other two to win against Bugs.
He’s also only lost once to his arch-nemesis Elmer Fudd, in What’s Opera, Doc. This was the final appearance of Elmer Fudd in a Chuck Jones cartoon.
Clark Gable Inspired Bugs’ Carrot Eating Habit
Quite a few actors inspired Bugs’ mannerisms, but one of the easiest to compare is Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.
In the film, Gable plays a fast-talking, city slicker reporter. For one scene, he is shown leaning on a fence and chomping away on carrots. Sound familiar? That’s one of Bugs Bunny’s most iconic trademarks. Hey, at least it’s a healthy habit! It could have been a cigar.
He Has A Star On The Walk Of Fame
Bugs Bunny is one of the first two cartoon characters to land a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bugs got his star in 1985, just seven years after his rival cartoon character Mickey Mouse. Now, he is one of seventeen fictional characters with a star, and the only character from Warner Bros. entertainment.
Now, he is one of seventeen cartoon characters with a star, and the only character from Warner Bros. entertainment.
Bugs Is An Honorary Member Of The US Marines
During Super Rabbit, of his many WW2 propaganda shorts, Bugs Bunny appears to be wearing the dress blues of the US Marines. Because of this, the Marines named him an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.
Bugs also served as the mascot to several divisions of the US Marines for years following WW2. For example, from 1943 to 1946, Bugs was the official mascot of Kingman Army Airfield located in Arizona. Charles Bronson and Clark Gable both trained there!
Mel Blanc Would Eat Carrots While Recording
One rumor that seems never to go away is that the creator and voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, was ironically allergic to carrots. Well, the rumor isn’t true.
In fact, Blanc was known to get so into character that he would chomp on carrots during recording sessions to make the sound more realistic. There’s just not another food that would have sounded like a carrot being chomped! It’s really a good thing Blanc wasn’t allergic.
Bugs Bunny Is Officially A Rabbit, Not A Hare
Even though Bugs debuted in A Wild Hare, he is most definitely not a hare. A hare doesn’t live in a burrow, and their fur color will change over time. Also, rabbits and hares even eat different foods. Rabbits like grass and veggies such as carrots, but hares eat twigs and bark.
Even though biologist rule that Bugs is most definitely not a hare, the cartoon uses the terms interchangeably because there are no rules in the Looney Tunes universe.
Charlie Chaplin And Groucho Marx Inspired His Personality
Two personalities from the 1930s that served as inspiration for Bugs’ personality. Charlie Chaplin’s goofy but witty character was the basis for animating Bugs.
Groucho Marx’s line, “Of course you realize this means war!” was lifted straight from Hollywood and became a classic phrase for Bugs Bunny. Marx first used the line in the 1933 film Duck Soup and then again in 1935’s A Night at the Opera.
He Made It Onto A Stamp Before Mickey Mouse Did
Mickey may have beat him to a Walk of Fame Star, but Bugs Bunny was the first cartoon character to appear on an official US Postal Service stamp. The stamp debuted in 1997 and managed to become quite a controversy.
Many people thought that the stamp was too “commercialized” and Mickey Mouse fans weren’t happy about the fact that Bugs had beaten them to it. Gee, ain’t that a stinker.
You Can Visit Bugs Bunny World!
If you’re itchin’ to meet Bugs in person, you can do so at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. The park has a Bugs Bunny World, renamed for the cartoon varmint in 1985.
In 1999, the park hosted a huge celebrity-filled bash. It gave proceeds to Comic Relief and to the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Here is Bugs with his pals Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito at the event.
He’s Officially A Senior Citizen
Bugs Bunny “officially” turned 75 years old on July 27, 2015. The date marks the first time he made his appearance in Tex Avery’s short “Wild Hare.”
Warner Bros. doesn’t celebrate animated characters’ birthdays so there wasn’t a big public fuss. But we hope that Mr. Bunny was able to enjoy himself some carrot cake for the big day, and for his 80th birthday which took place in July of 2020.
Bugs Is Still Popular Among Celebs
Bugs Bunny is still a popular attraction at Six Flags Magic Mountain. In this 2008 photo we see a young Justin Beiber visiting the park and saying hello to Bugs and Daffy. Other Looney Tunes characters with rides or attractions include Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, and Daffy Duck.
Magic Mountain opened its 19th roller coaster in Bugs Bunny world in 2014. There are many places where Bugs’ fans can go to visit their favorite rabbit!
TV Guide Thinks Bugs Is The Bees Knees
TV Guide named Bugs Bunny the #1 cartoon character of all time in 2002. As one editor explained, “His stock…has never gone down…Bugs is the best example…of the smart-aleck American comic.”
He continued, “[Bugs] not only is a great cartoon character, he’s a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops.” Those are words of high praise!
The Voices After Mel
A lot of voice actors have been Bugs Bunny over the years. Mel Blanc, of course, was the original voice. Sadly, Mel passed away from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 1989.
There’s a pretty lengthy list of all the actors who have voiced Bugs over the years. Seth MacFarlane, Darrell Hammond, Dave Barry, Eric Bauza, Bill Farmer, Jeff Bergman, Joe Alaskey, Greg Burson, John Kassir, and Billy West are just a few!
Billy West And Space Jam
Billy West played Bugs in 1996’s Space Jam. He later told Vice that he got lots of input when it came to voicing the iconic character.
“Space Jam was weird because everybody has their own perception of what Bugs Bunny should sound like. Everybody. Somebody would just stick their head in the door and say, ‘He sounds too Jewish.’ Or, ‘He’s too tough, he’s off-putting. You gotta seduce kids, not scare them out the door.'”
The Looney Tunes Inspire Graffiti
Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil (Taz), and many of the other Looney Tunes cartoons continue to inspire graffiti artists. There are even tutorials online that tell you how to tag a building with your favorite character.
This particular graffiti version of Bugs is from Paris, taken in April of 2018. People pay good money for prints, photos, and merchandise of Looney Tunes graffiti art, too. What’s up with that, doc?
Bugs Got To Conduct The Symphony
In 2015, The Los Angeles Philharmonic held a special event called “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II.” Bugs has appeared in many of his cartoons as a symphony conductor, and for this event, his image was projected onto the screen.
The evening’s true conductor, George Daugherty, was gracious to share the stage with our favorite bunny. The LA Phil even has a page on its website dedicated to “Artist” Bugs Bunny.
Chuck Jones Made A Ton Of Animated Films
Although many consider Ben Hardaway to be Bugs’ official creator, Chuck Jones was a contributing developer. Jones was a prolific filmmaker, with 300 titles and three Oscars to his name. He’s responsible for many of the most beloved animated characters we know today.
Just a couple of the titles he worked on are How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and 1979’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Jones received an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1996.
The Chuck Jones Experience
Fans of Chuck Jones (and animation) got a special treat in 2012 when Circus Circus Las Vegas opened an exhibition showcasing his art. The gallery featured lots of Jones’ artwork and some interactive elements.
Here, visitors can see how they stack up against some of the most famous Looney Tunes. According to Vegas Inc, the exhibition was “an offshoot of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Orange County, California.”
Bob Givens Was Instrumental In Bugs’ Design
Animator Bob Givens worked alongside Tex Avery and Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. Studios. Ben Hardaway had already designed the initial version of Bugs Bunny, and for a new animation called “A Wild Hare,” Givens was asked to redraw the character to be less “cutesy.”
Givens was responsible for the version of Bugs Bunny that we’re all the most familiar with. Fellow animator and sometimes collaborator Robert McKimson then tweaked Givens’ design a bit.
Givens Had A Long Career
During his 60+ year career, Bob Givens worked at Disney and Hanna-Barbera studios, in addition to Warner Bros. Before joining up with Avery and Jones on the Bugs Bunny character, he’d worked on Disney’s classic film Snow White.
He also did the layout for seasons 1 through 4 of the popular series Garfield and Friends, from 1988 to 1992. Sadly, Givens died in December 2017. He was 99 years old.
Psychologists Use Him In False Memory Studies
Psychologists have used Bugs Bunny to dupe their patients for years. In studies, the scientists will show the test subjects fake advertisements of Disney World that features Bugs Bunny.
Of course, Warner Bros. has no connection to Disney, so Bugs will never be featured at Disney World. If the patient says they remember meeting Bugs at Disney World, so the psychologists know the memory is false. That’s pretty tricky, doc!
Bugs, Back in Action
You just can’t keep a good Bugs down. He returned to the big screen for the 2003 animation/live-action film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. The star-studded cast of this movie included Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman, Joan Cusack, Heather Locklear, Brendan Fraser, and more.
It was the last film to be produced by Warner Bros. Feature Animation. Joe Alaskey voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the film. More about him next…
Joe Alaskey Was A Longtime Voice For Bugs
Joe Alaskey was one of Mel Blanc’s successors at the Warner Bros. He was also one of Bugs’ long-running voice actors. He also did voices for Tweety Bird, Elmer Fudd, some of the Rugrats characters and many more. Alaskey won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program in 2004. He was nominated for many other awards.
He was also nominated for many other awards. Unfortunately, he was only 63 when he died of cancer in 2016.
You Can Hear Bugs Bunny Through Your GPS
Photo credit: @vsmoothe / flickr
Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, you can now download Looney Tunes voices through your TomTom navigation device. Characters such as Bugs, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and Pepe Le Pew are available. Here’s a sampling of what some of the Loonified directions might sound like, from the TomTom website:
Bugs: “Say doc, after 600 yards stay in the right lane. What’s this rabbit’s foot doin’ in the glove box?” Yosemite Sam: “Sharp left, ya humpbacked muley. Then go straight on. This ve-hicle ain’t big enough for the two of us!”
Bugs Has Fans Everywhere
Bugs Bunny has fans all over the world, young and old alike. These cleats belong to Didi Gregorius, a shortstop for the New York Yankees. Previously a New York Yankee, he created the shoes himself for a game the team had against the Seattle Mariners.
Gregorius said to mlb.com, “I like watching Bugs Bunny and especially Road Runner and the Coyote, because he’s always trying to get him. It’s always fun.”
Bugs In The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
A larger-than-life Bugs Bunny debuted in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1989. This commemorated the rabbit’s 50th year anniversary. Bugs is eating a huge carrot. We just hope he got to feast on something more substantial after the parade.
The song that accompanied Bugs’ float down the parade route was “The Merry-Go Round Broke Down.” The Bugs Balloon made an appearance every year until 1992. It is now stored at Macy’s Float Warehouse.
Many Video Games Feature Bugs Bunny
There are a lot of video games starring Mr. Bunny himself. A few of the titles include “Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage,” “Crazy Castle,” “The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout,” “Operation Carrot Patch,” and ‘Lost in Time.”
Many of the games have Bugs rescuing Honey Bunny from other Looney Tunes characters while collecting prizes (such as carrots). And most of the video games, but not all, feature Billy West providing the voice for Bugs.
A Modern Artist ‘Skinned’ Bugs Bunny
Don’t worry — Bugs is just fine. But a Korean sculptor named Hyungkoo Lee created a series of popular cartoon characters exposed down to their skeletons. Bugs Bunny, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Wile E. Coyote, and The Road Runner are just some of the animated creatures who got the unusual transformations.
Bugs Bunny, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Wile E. Coyote, and The Road Runner are just some of the animated creatures who got the unusual transformations. Lee made the sculptures with resin and aluminum and displayed them in 2015.
Bugs Bunny Had A Stalker
In a version of The Looney Tunes Show that ran from 2011 to 2014, Bugs Bunny’s old flame Lola Bunny makes a return. Played by Kristin Wiig, Lola develops a serious stalker vibe toward Bugs. She even took pictures of him in the shower at one point.
Don’t worry, though, Lola fans. She and Bugs eventually made amends. There’s even a video game featuring them together, “Bugs Bunny & Lola Bunny: Operation Carrot Patch.”