Top 10 Bugs Bunny Cartoons To Watch For His 80th Anniversary
Bugs Bunny is turning 80 and he doesn’t look a “hare” over 50. As one of the all-time greatest cartoon characters, Bugs Bunny will never get old.
A Brief History of Bugs Bunny
The wisecracking bunny came out of the Warner Bros. animation studios on April 30, 1938 in Porky’s Hare Hunt under the direction of Ben “Bugs” Hardaway. In 1940, Tex Avery took over with his direction of A Wild Hare where Bugs became the smart aleck rabbit who keeps his cool.
Bugs had the benefit of being developed by men who became giants in the animation industry, including animators Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett and Friz Freleng; voice actor Mel Blanc; and music composer Carl Stalling.
The character of Bugs as a street-smart wise guy with a Brooklyn accent was influenced by a variety of movie characters from the 1930s and 1940s. His catchphrase “What’s up, Doc?” is thought to come from the 1939 movie My Man Godfrey where William Powell’s character uses the line throughout the movie. Some give credit to director Tex Avery’s habit of calling everybody “Doc.”
The voice of Bugs, Mel Blanc, had some difficulty saying his lines while chewing carrots for the sound effects in between them. Blanc couldn’t chew the carrots and swallow in time to say the next line so recording stopped every time allowing him to spit the carrot out. According to Mel Blanc, “Bugs Bunny did for carrots what Popeye did for spinach,” allowing parents to convince their children to eat the vegetables their cartoon heroes did.
To date, Bugs Bunny has been nominated for three Oscars with one win for 1958’s Knighty Knight, Bugs. Bugs became the second cartoon character to be awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame (after Mickey Mouse). Warner Bros. stopped producing cartoons for theaters in 1963, but Bugs lived on in television commercials, animation compilations and major motion pictures such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 and Space Jam in 1996 with NBA legend Michael Jordan. (Space Jam 2 is reportedly in the early stages at Warner Bros., with Bugs set to star opposite the current best player in the NBA, Lebron James.)
With the 80th anniversary of Bugs’ first appearance on April 30, 2018, what better time to celebrate Bugs Bunny with a list of his top 10 classic cartoons?
Of the 167 cartoon shorts starring Bugs Bunny voiced by Mel Blanc, these are the most notable for quality, humor and the introduction of classic characters.
(1957, director Chuck Jones)
Elmer Fudd chases Bugs Bunny while they portray characters in several of Richard Wagner’s operas, including a moment where Elmer sings “Kill the Wabbit” to the unmistakable tune of “The Ride of the Valkyries.”
2) A Wild Hare
(1939, director Tex Avery)
The first cartoon to feature a confrontation between Bugs and Elmer Fudd, as well as the introduction of Bugs’ famous line, “What’s up, Doc?” Elmer Fudd tries unsuccessfully to con Bugs Bunny out of his rabbit hole with a juicy carrot. Bugs toys with Elmer in retaliation.
(1948, director Chuck Jones)
Bugs is the unwilling space rocket passenger who, upon landing on the moon, meets another space passenger, Marvin the Martian, in his first appearance.
(1957, director Friz Freleng)
Bugs and Daffy Duck travel together to Pismo Beach but instead end up in the Arabian desert, where Daffy finds and tries to run off with an Arabian sultan’s fortune.
(1954, director Robert McKimson)
During spring cleaning, Bugs notices animals running away in droves. Why? Because the roaring, furiously spinning Tasmanian Devil (aka “Taz”) is nearby. Chases ensue. This short is notable for the first appearance of the Tasmanian Devil.
(1941, director Tex Avery)
Bugs and Cecil the Turtle race each other to the finish line in a play on the age-old children’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare.
(1950, director Chuck Jones). Another Bugs-versus-Elmer Fudd tale, this time with the two crackpots chasing each other into the Hollywood Bowl where a production of the opera The Barber of Seville is taking place. They assume roles in the performance as they try to outwit each other before Bugs finally emerges the victor.
(1953, director Chuck Jones)
Bugs heads to the Coachella Valley Carrot Festival but after taking a wrong turn he arrives in the middle a live bullfight where he tries to outsmart the raging bull.
(1938, director Ben “Bugs” Hardaway)
This short contains the first appearance of the Bugs Bunny character. (Bugs wasn’t properly named until 1941’s Elmer’s Pet Rabbit.) In this early Looney Tunes short, Porky Pig is a hunter and Bugs is his target. Bugs and other rabbits are ruining farmers’ crops, especially their carrot crops. As with his confrontations against Elmer Fudd, the rabbit almost always wins out.
10) Baseball Bugs
(1946, director Friz Freleng)
In this short, a New York City-based baseball game happens between rival teams and Bugs steps up to the plate to help the home team win the game against their hostile rivals.
So here’s to Bugs Bunny’s 80th anniversary: A great comic creation that’s given joy and laughter to millions for generations and will for generations to come.