Looney Tunes was an animated comedy series produced by Warner Bros. between 1930 and 1969 during the Golden Age of American animation. Along with its sister program Merrie Melodies, the show featured a number of now-iconic characters, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Wile. E Coyote, and many more. For the majority of its run, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies were the most populated animated shorts in theaters. Looney Toons has also proven to be timeless and is one of the largest worldwide media franchises spanning across television shows, merchandise, video games, amusement park rides, and more. Now take a deep dive behind the scenes of the iconic series and its most beloved characters.
Wile. E Coyote And Road Runner Adhere To Certain Rules
Although initially intended to be a parody of cartoons like Tom and Jerry, the shorts featuring Wile. E Coyote and the Road Runner became incredibly popular in their own right. Although the show might seem like chaos at all times, the writers actually established a set of rules that the two characters had to follow.
For example, the Road Runner could only harm the Coyote by startling him with his trademark "meep meep" noise and had to stay on the road at all times. On the other hand, the Coyote's greatest enemy is always gravity, and all of the weapons and tools he acquired had to be products of the ACME Corporation. Although some rules were broken at times, for the most part, they were upheld.
The Tasmanian Devil Only Appeared In Five Shorts
Although the Tasmanian Devil or Taz may be one of the first Looney Tunes characters that come to mind, incredibly, he wasn't a significant part of the original series. Making his debut in 1954, ten years before the studios closed, Taz only appeared in a mere five shorts.
Nevertheless, his popularity exploded in the 1990s when he began to make other television appearances, merchandise was made of him, and he even had his own show, Taz mania. His overall popularity is understandable, considering what a memorable character he is.
Mel Blanc's Gravestone Is Beyond Appropriate
Any fan of Looney Tunes knows that the show owes a lot to voice actor Mel Blanc. He was the voice behind almost all of the show's most iconic characters, essentially making the show possible. His work on Looney Tunes has established him as one of the most prolific and impactful voice actors of all time.
Yet, Looney Tunes isn't the only show Blanc lent his voice to. He was also involved in The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Tom and Jerry. His gravestone at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary reads: "THAT'S ALL FOLKS," in reference to Porky Pig's catchphrase at the end of each episode.
Bugs Bunny Helped Change The Meaning Of The Word "Nimrod"
Bugs Bunny helped to popularize the word "nimrod," which he used to describe the less-than-impressive hunter, Elmer Fudd. Buggs always managed to evade the determined hunter, regularly humiliating him in the process. When Bugs would comment "What a Nimrod," it actually meant something that went over most audience's heads.
It was supposed to be a back-handed statement because, in the Book of Genesis, the great-grandson of Noah, named Nimrod, is described as being "a mighty hunter," something Fudd was not. Audiences eventually assumed it meant that someone who is slow or dim-witted, which is the definition most people use today.
Looney Tunes Has Won Five Academy Awards
It's clear that Looney Tunes made a massive cultural impact throughout the decades, and it hasn't gone unnoticed. Over the years, the franchise earned five Academy Awards, all of which were in the Best Short Subject (Cartoon) category. One of the first was in 1949, for "Scent-imental Reasons," which stars Pepe Le Pew in an attempt to seduce another skunk that turns out to be a cat.
Another in 1959 for "Knighty Knight Bugs," in which Bugs Bunny is a court jester that must retrieve a singing sword from the Black Knight and his fire-breathing dragon. Others include "Tweetie Pie," "Speedy Gonzales," and "Birds Anonymous."
Looney Tunes Was Originally Created To Demonstrate Warner Bros. Music Compositions
Many people have questioned why the show is called Looney Tunes, and its sister show was Merrie Melodies since they're both references to music. It turns out that the show was first developed to showcase Warner Bros.-owned music compositions to boost the sales of sheet music and phonograph records.
The names were also inspired by Walt Disney's musical series Silly Symphonies, with the goal of competing with Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons. However, after a dispute over the show's budget, Warner Bros. took the rights over the show's characters and made it into what we know today,
Bugs Bunny Is One Of The Most Portrayed Characters In The World
Bugs Bunny is arguably one of the most iconic and recognizable cartoon characters of all time. On top of being the corporate mascot for Warner Bros., he even has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
Due to his significant cultural impact, he is the ninth-most portrayed film personality in the world behind figures such as The Grim Reaper, Sherlock Holmes, Santa Claus, and more. That's quite an accomplishment for an animated rabbit.
Warner Bros. Insisted That The Looney Tunes Characters Got Equal Screen Time In Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a groundbreaking film that combined both live-action and animated characters. It helped to create a renewed interest in the Golden Age of American animation while also bringing about the Disney Renaissance. When Disney purchased the rights to the film, they convinced Warner Bros. to let them use some of their characters.
However, Warner Bros. insisted that their Looney Tunes characters had the same amount of screen time as the Disney characters. This is why many characters share scenes such as Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse.
Marvin The Martian Didn't Have A Name For A Long Time
Although we know this rather villainous character as Marvin the Martian, that's a rather new title. If you watch the original sorts, you might notice that his name is never actually mentioned. In 1952's, "A Hasty Hare," he is mentioned as the Commander of Flying Saucer X-2, which is a title and not necessarily a name.
The name Marvin the Martian came decades later when there was potential for merchandising, and Warner Bros. realized they needed to give him a marketable name.
Significant Changes Were Made To Tweety Bird
At the beginning of the series, the lovable Tweety Bird was pink and was also named Orson! His first appearance on the show was in the 1942 short, A Tale of Two Kitties. In the short, the pink Orson had a showdown with two cats named Babbit and Castello, a play on the comedy duo Abbot and Costello.
When he made an appearance on his second short, "Birdy and the Beast," he was renamed Tweety and had yellow feathers drawn on later following complaints about a naked bird.
The First Character
The first character in Looney Tune's history was Bosko. He was developed in 1927 by animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, who were working at Walt Disney Studios at the time. Taking note of the new "talkie" craze, the two began thinking about making a sound cartoon with Bosko and leaving Disney, which they did.
After seeing what the animators had done with Bosko, Leon Schlesinger signed the two to his studio to create cartoons for him to sell to Warner Bros. Bosko then became the leading character in Warner Bros.' new Looney Tunes cartoon series.
The Origin Of Sylvester's Name
The name of "Sylvester" is a pun on Felis silvestris, which is the name for the European wildcat species. Sylvester was not the character's name until it was given to him by Chuck Jones when it was first used in "Scaredy Cat" in 1948.
However, before the introduction of his official name in "Scaredy Cat," he was called Thomas in his first appearance with Tweety in "Tweetie Pie." This is most likely a reference to a male cat being referred to as a "Tom."
Yosemite Sam Has A Different Identity In France
For over 19 years, the creator of Yosemite Sam, Friz Freleng, had exclusive control over the character in Warner Bros. studios except for the cartoon "Hare-Abian Nights." Although Sam is technically a cowboy, Freleng liked to have fun with his character and would put him in a different costume in numerous different films.
His characters ranged from being a duke, a Confederate soldier, a space alien, and more. However, some countries preferred his pirate identity, such as France, where he is commonly referred to as "Sam the Pirate."
Porky Pig Had A Voice Actor Change
The original voice of Porky Pig was done by voice actor Joe Dougherty, who was chosen because he actually had a stutter. Unfortunately, because Dougherty couldn't control his stutter, his recording sessions took hours, driving up production costs.
This resulted in Dougherty being let go and the character being handed off to Mel Blanc. Of course, Blanc kept the stutter, but made it much more precise and was able to deliver it with much more comedic effect.
Wile. E Coyote Was Inspired By Mark Twain
When Chuck Jones was creating the character of Wile. E Coyote, he found inspiration in the writings of renowned author Mark Twain. In his 1872 novel Roughing It, he describes the coyote as "long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton [...] a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry. He is always poor, out of luck, and friendless."
Jones commented that nobody more perfectly described the coyote than Twain and decided to use some of his descriptions for the down-on-his-luck and starving Wile. E.
At First, Private Snafu's Shorts Weren't Available To The Public
Private Snafu was the title character of a series of black-and-white instructional adult animated shorts. They were produced during World War II between 1943 and 1945 and were distributed by the US government to instruct military personnel on how to handle certain situations.
Although they were delivered in an ironic and humorous fashion, they covered subjects ranging from proper sanitation habits to booby traps and more. Although they were not initially released to the public, they are now-declassified work of the US government and are public domain, free for viewing.
Witch Hazel Is The Only Character To Appear In Both Looney Tunes And Disney Cartoons
Witch Hazel is an animated character in Warner Bros. Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies cartoon series. The name is a direct reference to the plant witch-hazel, which is believed to have medicinal properties. She is the only character to make an appearance in both Warner Bros. and Disney shorts, beginning with Disney.
She made her first appearance was in the Disney cartoon Trick or Treat in 1952 before Chuck Jones made his own witch of the same name for Warner Bros. This was only possible because her name was already being used in commercial products. However, Jones made some changes to the character.
Bugs Bunny Wasn't The Greatest With Directions
Bugs Bunny is quite the traveler, and throughout his time on screen has been all across the globe and even into space! However, a lot of the places that he ended up weren't necessarily on purpose, as he's known to take wrong turns frequently and pop up in places that he wasn't expected.
Nevertheless, unknown to some, Bugs Bunny does have a home. Supposedly, he was born in Brooklyn, New York. That might help to explain a bit of his personality!
The "E" Stands For Something in Wile. E Coyote's Name
Wile. E Coyote's name is an appropriate pun on the word "wily," meaning to be cunning and crafty. However, few people know that the "E" in his name is said to stand for "Ethelbert" as was revealed in one issue of Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies Comics.
Nevertheless, the cartoonist that included this information did not intend for it to be continuous with the show and is therefore considered to be non-canon. Regardless, many still accept Ethelbert to be his middle name.
Foghorn Legorn Was Based On Another Character
Foghorn Leghorn was created by Robert McKimson and writer Warren Foster and starred in 29 cartoons between 1946 and 1964. He first appeared in the short "Walky Talky Hawky" and is considered to be one of the two most popular characters KcKimson created, along with the Tasmanian Devil.
Interestingly, Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the character of Senator Claghorn, a Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar in the popular 1940s program Fred Allen's Radio Show. Leghorn is also one of the very few characters whose physical appearance never changed over the years.