A “hare-raising” 75 years has passed since Bugs Bunny made his motion picture debut.
The Warner Bros. icon everybody knows and loves first appeared on July 27, 1940 in “Wild Hare,” a cartoon short directed by Tex Avery. The clip features a wily Bugs Bunny outsmarting Elmer Fudd, who hunts for a “silly wabbit” in vain. Warner Bros. made several rabbit cartoons in earlier years, but they were not the same as the distinctive cotton-tailed “Bugs” featured in July of 1940.
Bugs Bunny was an “instant star,” He became one of the world’s best-known cartoon characters, starring in more than 175 films, receiving three Oscar nominations, one Academy Award, and appearing in comic books, TV specials, and video games, as Parade Magazine reported.
And, as seen in his long career, his fame stretches far beyond the 1940s and 1950s. According to Variety Magazine, the “Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show” was ABC’s No. 1 kids show in 1987. And in April, The Washington Post reported that basketball icon Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny would be continuing their partnership with the release of “Hare” Jordan shoes.
Some even say that the rabbit overtook Mickey Mouse at one point in history, a reflection of the mood the nation. In a book titled “Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation,” author Kevin S. Sandler makes his case.
“After a period of experimentation form 1938 to 1940, Bugs Bunny developed certain traits and behaviors following US entry into World War II. At this time, Looney Tunes surpassed Disney’s Silly Symphonies to become the number-one short subject during the war years. Bugs' unruliness and flippancy more accurately reflected the mood of the country than the ‘maternal security’ of Mickey Mouse…He embodied the cockiness of the country with his unwillingness to back down from the enemy and his determination to do what he thought was right.”
Perhaps, this is the secret to Bugs Bunny’s 75 years (and counting) of success – Americans can’t help but admire his determination.
And they’ll have an opportunity to tune in for more. Variety Magazine recently reported that Time Warner's Boomerang Network channel would be running brand new episodes featuring Bugs Bunny.
In “Wabbit – A Looney Tunes production,” Bugs Bunny stars in all-new shorts that feature match-ups with classic characters like Yosemite Sam, as well as plenty of new opponents. The shorts are apparently hoped to bolster Time Warner’s younger audience – a segment of society easily pulled away from cable by streaming companies like Netflix.
Either way, “What’s up, Doc?” won’t be put away in a vault anytime soon.