A Wild Hare

July 27th Celebrates A Wild Hare

I grew up watching the Bugs Bunny Road Runner show, years later I was pretty surprised to hear how violent it was, for some reason I didn’t feel that way growing up, but did you know?

On July 27th 1940, Bugs Bunny made his official debut in at Warner Bros. Studio in an animated cartoon called, “A Wild Hare?”

It was produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions, directed by Tex Avery, and written by Rich Hogan.

Bugs is unnamed in this film, but would be named for the first time in his next short, Elmer’s Pet Rabbit, directed by Chuck Jones. The opening lines of both characters—”Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits” for Elmer, and “Eh, what’s up Doc?” for Bugs Bunny would become catchphrases throughout their subsequent films.

In a rare promotional broadcast, A Wild Hare was loosely adapted for the radio as a sketch performed by Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan on the April 11, 1941 edition of The Al Pearce Show. The sketch was followed by a scripted interview with Leon Schlesinger.

Although the script is available for public online viewing, as of June 2010 no recording of the broadcast is known to exist.

The line, “What’s up, Doc?” was added by director Tex Avery for this film. Avery explained later that it was a common expression in Texas where he was from, and he didn’t think much of the phrase. But when this short was screened in theaters, the scene of Bugs calmly chewing a carrot, followed by the nonchalant “What’s Up, Doc?” went against any 1940s audience’s expectation of how a rabbit might react to a hunter and caused complete pandemonium in the audience.

Today’s YouTube video clip shared by user name That Was History, gives you a little history of Bugs Bunny.

On November 18, 1928, Mickey Mouse made his movie debut in Steamboat Willie, one of the earliest animated cartoons. This seven-minute film, directed by Walt Disney, was the first to combine animation technology with synchronized sound.

Twelve years later Bugs Bunny made his first debut in the cartoon clip called, “A Wild Hare” but how did Bugs Bunny get his name?

While at the Schlesinger/Warner Bros. studio during the late 1930s, Hardaway served as a story man, and co-directed several Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts with Cal Dalton during Friz Freleng’s three-year exodus to MGM.

Leon Schlesinger needed a replacement for Freleng, and Hardaway’s previous experience in the job resulted in his promotion.

The rabbit’s third appearance comes in Hare-um Scare-um (1939), directed again by Dalton and Joseph Benson Hardaway. He was sometimes credited as J. B. Hardaway, Ben Hardaway, Bugsy Hardaway and B. Hardaway.

In 1940, Warner Bros. demanded from its illustrators to sketch a “tall, lanky, mean rabbit” for a cartoon titled “Hare-um Scare-um”. Someone in the office mistakenly labeled one of the submissions from a cartoonist as “Bugs Bunny” instead of Bugs Hardaway.

The sketches made by Hardaway, however, were not used but the words that labeled them were given to the rabbit star of the 1940 cartoon “A Wild Hare”. From then on, “Bugs Bunny” was introduced and became popular.

Hurrah for Bugs Bunny, as I end this story the way Porky Pig use to say, at the end of every cartoon, “That’s All Folks!”

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio

jdmitchelldesigns@gmail.com

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