A guest post by Robert Appleton, Faculty, 3-D Animation Program, New York Film Academy
Was famous voice actor Mel Blanc the actual genius of character development in 20th century animation? Most baby boomer fans in childhood may not have realized it, but the voice he gave to Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny was largely borrowed from a show their parents were listening to on the radio on The Jack Benny Program (1932-1955) and its television incarnation of the same name (1950-1965). Phrases that the Oscar-winning rabbit or his sidekick, Daffy Duck (also Blanc’s voice) used – “Now cut that out!” and “Cuc….amonga!” among them – were directly borrowed from Jack Benny. The intra-show theft worked in reverse when once, on Benny’s radio show, the protagonist had a visit from the wascally wabbit in a dream.
In each of these animated series, the genius was that the characters evolved from elsewhere. The fact that each derived from adult series is likely the reason the animations were appealing – with the help of some double entendres from time to time – to both parents and children.