Remember as kids we would laugh and sometimes imitate the wacky voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester? It was because of a grown man behind the bunny, the duck, the cat and thousands of other characters which he enhanced with his voice. It all came out of one legendary person, Mel Blanc aka “The Man of 1000 Voices”.
He practically became one of them. Bugs’ voice, Blanc said, grew out of his impression of the character as a smart, endlessly resourceful maverick, a very urban rabbit despite his residency in rural holes. His inputs made a huge impact on what Bugs eventually turned out to be. Mel said “I thought, when we were working on how Bugs would talk, which accent sounds the toughest – Brooklyn or the Bronx? I couldn’t make up my mind, so I made his voice a combination of both.” Blanc would instantly embody the facial expressions of whatever character he was voicing. He actually lived these characters. And the characters lived him. One of them also saved him. It was our hero, Bugs Bunny.
When one night at Sunset Boulevard’s Deadman Curve, Mel Blanc met with an accident that crushed his Aston Martin and himself inside it. The chances of him surviving were a million to one. That’s when the address “Bugs Bunny, Hollywood, USA” received fifteen thousand cards and letters, gifts of pennies, nickels, sticks of gum and carrots. Thousands of people praying for Bugs Bunny to get well soon. It’s weird, isn’t it? People don’t even love humans as much as they loved a cartoon character. Maybe that’s the magic of animation and creating new characters. The voice of Bugs Bunny was heard, and it was heard well alright!
After about 3 weeks of Mel being in a coma, his neurosurgeon got an idea. He knew the affection Mel had for Bugs, he said “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?”. It was like a miracle waiting to happen, that’s when a bleak but extremely familiar voice said “Eh, just fine, Doc, How are you?”. A human who was suffering, close to his death and there’s a fictitious character who was being his hero was trying to save him. Bugs eventually won, Mel survived.
Mel Blanc was the voice to Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Pepe Le Pew, Yosemite Sam, Mr. Spacely, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Speedy Gonzalez,The Tasmanian Devil, Barney Rubble, Dino the Dinosaur, Heathcliff and so many more but the love for one saved him and it was our dear Bugs. This is the power of animation. Mel Blanc is said to be one of the first voice actors and he is also the first voice actor to get screen credit which he funnily enough received after being denied a raise by his studio boss Leon Schlesinger.
Out of his glorious work history, his career at Warner Bro’s was the longest and memorable. When we think of Bugs, we hear his voice along with the chomping of carrots. We could never thank Mel Blanc enough for the iconic legend that his voice created.