Warner Bros. created Bugs Bunny in the 1930s, and the slick rabbit has been dominating TV screens around the world ever since. Bugs Bunny is fast-talking, smart, and always getting into trouble. But there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the legendary rabbit.
Who would ever think that a cartoon character would have so much scandal and history behind them? Lean up against a fence, pull out a carrot, and enjoy these entertaining facts about Bugs Bunny. From his humble origins to a possible clothesless scene (yes, it’s possible), there is more to Bugs than just two big ears and a fluffy tail.
Bugs Made His First Appearance In 1938
Bugs Bunny appeared kind of by accident. Warner Bros. had success with Daffy Duck and wanted to reuse some of his jokes in a new short. Someone suggested they “dress the duck in a rabbit suit” and Bugs was born.
On April 30, 1938, Bugs appeared with Porky Pig in Porky’s Hare Hunt, and the rest is history.
He Got His Name From His Animator
Chuck Jones is the longtime animator of all things Looney Tunes, but Bugs Bunny’s original designer was Ben “Bugs” Hardaway.
When Hardaway was tinkering with the original design of Bugs, fellow employees would refer to the new cartoon character as “Bug’s Bunny.” The name caught on, and Warner Bros. changed the cartoon from Happy Rabbit to Bugs Bunny.
The Creators Had To Make Sure Bugs Didn’t Look Like A Bully
The creators were really worried about making sure that Bugs didn’t come off looking like a bully. It was an unwritten rule that Bugs didn’t start the fights, but that he would only be defending himself against people who were bothering him.
That’s why many of the shorts start with Bugs minding his own business before Elmer Fudd or Daffy Duck begins to pick a fight.
Keep reading to find out what Bugs Bunny and Ru Paul’s Drag Race have in common.
He Has Only “Lost” A Fight Four Times
Bugs doesn’t pick the fights, and he rarely loses them either. Cecil Turtle always beats Bugs because the two are supposed to be like the Tortoise and the Hare. A Gremlin and a nameless mouse are the other two to win against Bugs.
He’s also only lost once to his arch-nemesis Elmer Fudd, in What’s Opera, Doc.
Clark Gable Inspired Bugs’ Carrot Eating Habit
Quite a few actors inspired Bugs’ mannerisms, but one of the easiest to compare is Clark Gable in It Happened One Night.
In the film, Gable plays a fast-talking, city slicker reporter. For one scene, he is shown leaning on a fence and chomping away on carrots. Sound familiar?
Bugs Saved His Creator From A Coma
Okay, Bugs Bunny himself didn’t come to life and perform CPR. But In 1961, Mel Blanc was in a car accident that left him unconscious in a coma.
Doctors couldn’t wake him up for weeks until on surgeon, as a joke, said “Bugs! Bugs Bunny! How are you doing today?” and Blanc replied, “Eeee, what’s up Doc?”
Coming up, Bugs Bunny isn’t just an American icon. He’s so influential that he changed the definition of a word.
WW2 Turned Bugs Into A Propaganda Machine
Just like Mickey Mouse, Warner Bros. and the Looney Tunes cast were a big part of the American propaganda machine during WW2. Here, Bugs is pictured pretending to be Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
In Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips, Bugs is at war against Japanese soldiers. The short only aired briefly but was pulled from the Looney Tunes collection because of its racist portrayal of the Japanese.
He Has A Star On The Walk Of Fame
Bugs Bunny is one of the first two cartoon characters to land a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bugs got his star in 1985, just seven years after his rival cartoon character Mickey Mouse.
Now, he is one of seventeen cartoon characters with a star, and the only character from Warner Bros. entertainment.
The Term “Nimrod” Means “Idiot” Thanks To Bugs Bunny
Bugs Bunny is so influential in American culture that he is the sole reason why America uses the term “nimrod” to mean idiot. Before Bugs, nimrod referred to a mighty hunter, named after the Biblical figure Nimrod.
Bugs would sarcastically compare Elmer Fudd to Nimrod, and America picked up the phrase.
All these facts are true, but keep reading to see how scientists use Bugs Bunny to trick their patients into believing things that are false.
Bugs Is An Honorary Member Of The US Marines
During Super Rabbit, of his many WW2 propaganda shorts, Bugs Bunny appears to be wearing the dress blues of the US Marines. Because of this, the Marines named him an honorary Marine Master Sergeant.
Bugs also served as the mascot to several divisions of the US Marines for years following WW2. He’s a true patriot!
Mel Blanc Would Eat Carrots While Recording
One rumor that seems never to go away is that the creator and voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, was ironically allergic to carrots. Well, the rumor isn’t true.
In fact, Blanc was known to get so into character that he would chomp on carrots during recording sessions to make the sound more realistic.
Psychologists Use Him In False Memory Studies
Psychologists have used Bugs Bunny to dupe their patients for years. In studies, the scientists will show the test subjects fake advertisements of Disney World featuring Bugs Bunny.
Of course, Warner Bros. has no connection to Disney, so Bugs will never be featured at Disney World. If the patient says they remember meeting Bugs at Disney World, so the psychologists know the memory is false.
Mickey Mouse might be one of the most iconic cartoon characters, but Bugs Bunny holds some impressive records over Mickey.
Bugs Bunny Is Officially A Rabbit, Not A Hare
Even though Bugs debuted in A Wild Hare, he is most definitely not a hare. A hare doesn’t live in a burrow, and their fur color will change over time.
Even though biologist rule that Bugs is most definitely not a hare, the cartoon uses the terms interchangeably because there are no rules in the Looney Tunes universe.
Charlie Chaplin And Groucho Marx Inspired His Personality
Two personalities from the 1930s that served as inspiration for Bugs’ personality. Charlie Chaplin’s goofy but witty character was the basis for animating Bugs.
Groucho Marx’s line, “Of course you realize this means war!” was lifted straight from Hollywood and became a classic phrase for Bugs Bunny.
He Holds The Record For Most Film Appearances For A Cartoon Character
As of January 2013, Bugs Bunny has officially appeared in more films than any other cartoon character and is the ninth most-portrayed film personality in the world.
Of course, we all know his most iconic film role was as the leader of the Toon Squad in 1996’s Space Jam.
Creators Say He Was Born In Brooklyn, New York
Even though he’s always trying to get to Albuquerque, Bugs Bunny was officially born in Brooklyn, New York. That’s why he is portrayed as a fast-talking trickster with a Brooklyn accent.
Of course, Bugs was actually born in the mind of Mel Blanc and the creators at Warner Bros.
He Made It Onto A Stamp Before Mickey Mouse Did
Mickey may have beat him to a Walk of Fame Star, but Bugs Bunny was the first cartoon character to appear on an official US Postal Service stamp. The stamp debuted in 1997 and managed to become a controversy.
People thought the stamp was too “commercialized” and Mickey Mouse fans weren’t happy Bugs beat them to it. Gee, ain’t that a stinker.
He Doesn’t Wear Clothes, But Bugs Bunny Still Has A Nude Scene
Every scene is a nude scene for a rabbit, but during The Wabbit Who Came To Supper, there is a little more than meets the eye. In the cartoon, Bugs gets out of the shower — with his rumored lover Elmer Fudd waiting outside — and wraps a towel around himself.
For a split second, there appears to be something slip out the front of the towel that doesn’t look like his usually fluffy tail. Children, avert your eyes.
He’s The First TV Drag Queen
Step aside Ru Paul, the original queen is here. Many have noted over the years how Bugs Bunny was way ahead of his time with his gender-fluidity.
Bugs will often change into female clothing and adopt a female personality. Then he will switch right back to being a male bunny.
Not all drag queens are gay, but that doesn’t stop fans from creating fan theories about Bugs.
Is It Possible That He’s Gay? Theories Swirl
His ability to dress in drag with no problem supports many fan theories that Bugs might be gay. In 2007, creator Mel Blanc’s son Steve said that Bugs “had a long and unrequited love” with Elmer Fudd. The catchphrase “What’s Up, Doc?” was even used as the password to get into the Hammer Club on the Sunset Strip.
Despite the theory, Bugs only has two official love interests: Honey Bunny and Lola Bunny.
You Can Visit Bugs Bunny World!
If you’re itchin’ to meet Bugs in person, you can do so at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. The park has a Bugs Bunny World, renamed for the cartoon varmint in 1985.
In 1999, the park hosted a huge celebrity-filled bash. It gave proceeds to Comic Relief and to the Comprehensive Childhood Diabetes Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Here is Bugs with his pals Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito at the event.
He’s Officially A Senior Citizen
Photo credit: @lebakery/ Instagram
Bugs Bunny “officially” turned 75 years old on July 27, 2015. The date marks the first time he made his appearance in Tex Avery’s short “Wild Hare.”
Warner Bros. doesn’t celebrate animated characters’ birthdays so there wasn’t a big public fuss. But we hope that Mr. Bunny was able to enjoy himself some carrot cake for the big day.
Bugs Is Still Popular Among Celebs
Bugs Bunny is still a popular attraction at Six Flags Magic Mountain. In this 2008 photo we see a young Justin Beiber visiting the park and saying hello to Bugs and Daffy.
Magic Mountain opened its 19th roller coaster in Bugs Bunny world in 2014.
TV Guide Thinks Bugs Is The Bees Knees
TV Guide named Bugs Bunny the #1 cartoon character of all time in 2002. As one editor explained, “His stock…has never gone down…Bugs is the best example…of the smart-aleck American comic.”
He continued, “[Bugs] not only is a great cartoon character, he’s a great comedian. He was written well. He was drawn beautifully. He has thrilled and made many generations laugh. He is tops.” Those are words of high praise!
The Voices After Mel
A lot of voice actors have been Bugs Bunny over the years. Mel Blanc, of course, was the original voice. Sadly, Mel passed away from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in 1989.
Jeff Bergman, Joe Alaskey, Greg Burson, John Kassir, and Billy West are some of the actors who have also voiced Bugs.
Billy West And Space Jam
Billy West played Bugs in 1996’s Space Jam. He later told Vice that “Space Jam was weird because everybody has their own perception of what Bugs Bunny should sound like. Everybody. Somebody would just stick their head in the door and say, ‘He sounds too Jewish.’ Or, ‘He’s too tough, he’s off-putting. You gotta seduce kids, not scare them out the door.'”
The Looney Tunes Inspire Graffiti
Bugs Bunny, the Tasmanian Devil (Taz), and many of the other Looney Tunes cartoons continue to inspire graffiti artists. There are even tutorials online that tell you how to tag a building with your favorite character.
This graffiti version of Bugs is from Paris, taken in April 2018. What’s up with that, doc?
Bugs Got To Conduct The Symphony
In 2015, The Los Angeles Philharmonic held a special event called “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II.” Bugs has appeared in many of his cartoons as a symphony conductor, and for this event, his image was projected onto the screen.
The evening’s true conductor, George Daugherty, was gracious to share the stage with our favorite bunny.
Chuck Jones Made A Ton Of Animated Films
Although many consider Ben Hardaway to be Bugs’ official creator, Chuck Jones was a contributing developer. Jones was a prolific filmmaker, with 300 titles and three Oscars to his name. He’s responsible for many of the most beloved animated characters we know today.
Jones received an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1996.
The Chuck Jones Experience
Fans of Chuck Jones (and animation) got a special treat in 2012 when Circus Circus Las Vegas opened an exhibition showcasing his art. The gallery featured lots of Jones’ artwork and some interactive elements.
Here, visitors can see how they stack up against some of the most famous Looney Tunes.
Bob Clampett Was Instrumental In Bugs’ Design
Animator Bob Clampett worked alongside Tex Avery and Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. Studios. Ben Hardaway had already designed the initial version of Bugs Bunny, and for a new animation called “A Wild Hare,” Clampett was asked to redraw the character to be less “cutesy.”
Clampett was responsible for the version of Bugs Bunny that we’re all the most familiar with.
Clampett Left Warner Bros.
Clampett left Warner Bros. due to creative differences and later worked for Screen Gems, Columbia Pictures, and Republic Pictures. He was the primary focus of a 1975 documentary called Bugs Bunny: Superstar.
Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1984, just days before his 71st birthday. He was touring to promote the home video release of his Beany & Cecil cartoons.
Bugs, Back in Action
You just can’t keep a good Bugs down. He returned to the big screen for the 2003 animation/live-action film Looney Tunes: Back in Action. The star-studded cast of this movie included Steve Martin, Jenna Elfman, Joan Cusack, Heather Locklear, Brendan Fraser, and more.
Joe Alaskey voiced Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in the film. More about him next…
Joe Alaskey Was A Longtime Voice For Bugs
Joe Alaskey was one of Bugs’ long-running voice actors. He also did voices for Tweety Bird, Elmer Fudd, some of the Rugrats characters and many more. Alaskey won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program in 2004. He was nominated for many other awards.
Unfortunately, he was only 63 when he died of cancer.
You Can Hear Bugs Bunny Through Your GPS
Photo credit: @vsmoothe / flickr
Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, you can now download Looney Tunes voices through your TomTom navigation device. Characters such as Bugs, Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, and Pepe Le Pew are available.
Here’s a sampling of what some of the Loonified directions might sound like, from the TomTom website:
Bugs: “Say doc, after 600 yards stay in the right lane. What’s this rabbit’s foot doin’ in the glove box?”
Yosemite Sam: “Sharp left, ya humpbacked muley. Then go straight on. This ve-hicle ain’t big enough for the two of us!”
Bugs Has Fans Everywhere
Bugs Bunny has fans all over the world, young and old alike. These cleats belong to Didi Gregorius, a shortstop for the New York Yankees. He created them himself for a game against the Seattle Mariners.
Gregorius said to mlb.com, “I like watching Bugs Bunny and especially Road Runner and the Coyote, because he’s always trying to get him. It’s always fun.”
Bugs In The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
A larger-than-life Bugs Bunny debuted in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1989. This commemorated the rabbit’s 50th year anniversary. Bugs is eating a huge carrot. We just hope he got to feast on something more substantial after the parade.
The Bugs Balloon made an appearance every year until 1993.
Many Video Games Feature Bugs Bunny
There are a lot of video games starring Mr. Bunny himself. Titles include “Bugs Bunny Rabbit Rampage,” “Crazy Castle,” “The Bugs Bunny Birthday Blowout,” “Operation Carrot Patch,” and ‘Lost in Time.”
Many of the games, but not all, feature Billy West voicing Bugs.
A Modern Artist ‘Skinned’ Bugs Bunny
Don’t worry — Bugs is just fine. But a Korean sculptor named Hyungkoo Lee created a series of popular cartoon characters exposed down to their skeletons. Bugs Bunny, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Wile E. Coyote, and The Road Runner are just some of the animated creatures who got the unusual transformations.
Lee made the sculptures with resin and aluminum and displayed them in 2015.
Bugs Bunny Had A Stalker
In a version of The Looney Tunes Show that ran from 2011 to 2014, Bugs Bunny’s old flame Lola Bunny makes a return. Played by Kristin Wiig, Lola develops a serious stalker vibe toward Bugs. She even took pictures of him in the shower at one point.
Don’t worry, though, Lola fans. She and Bugs eventually get back together.