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10 Interesting Facts about Legendary Voice Actor Mel Blanc
Have you ever heard of cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Daffy Duck, and even Porky Pig? The well-known cartoon show Looney Tunes was created and produced in 1930 by Warner Brothers Studio. This show was built upon memorable slapstick comedy with bits of violence and famous catchphrases that spanned across generations. Phrases such as “Eh, what’s up, doc?” and “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!” were notably echoed by the previously mentioned characters Bugs Bunny and Tweety.
This show saw much success during its run in its earlier years and has maintained a fanbase even today. However, the show’s initial success might not have occurred had it not been for the talent and genius of a man named Mel Blanc. Born on May 30, 1908, Blanc was a pioneer who mastered the art of voiceovers, specifically in the cartoon genre. He was the voice behind many of Looney Tunes’ characters, as well as others, including Barney Rubble and Dino from The Flintstones.
Mel Blanc’s work was so extensive that it earned him the moniker “The Man of 1,000 Voices.” But what are some interesting facts about this legend? Let’s find out.
Related: Top 10 Funniest Cartoon Shows Ever
10 The Gravestone of a “Looney” Genius
Looney Tunes and its companion series, Merrie Melodies, always showcased intro and outro music. Although closely aligned, both shows used different tunes for their themes. Looney Tunes used “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” as its opening tune starting in 1937. Merrie Melodies used a slightly different presentation with the tune “Merrily We Roll Along” in 1936. In addition to the opening tune, there was always a nod to the show being produced by Warner Bros., which was shown to the viewing audience. All this was visible on a backdrop that showed a red-colored bullseye with a hole in the middle.
At the end of each episode, an outro theme was also played with the same music as the intro theme. Next, the viewing audience would then see a cartoon character appear on the screen and utter the words “That’s all folks.” The version that most are familiar with—which was implemented in the late 1930s— shows Porky Pig stuttering, “Th-th-th-th-that’s all, folks.”
As mentioned previously, Mel Blanc was the voice of many Looney Tunes characters, including Porky Pig. His influence greatly shaped the entertainment industry, primarily in animation. The man of 1,000 voices died on July 10, 1989, and was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Written on Blanc’s epitaph is the famous phrase, “That’s all, folks!” It is a line that he himself made famous, and it is widely known and often repeated across the generations.
9 Original Voice of Toucan Sam
Toucan Sam is the official mascot for Kellogg’s Froot Loops cereal and has been its representative since its first appearance in 1963. Sam was created by the Leo Burnett advertising agency, which was also responsible for the creation of other well-known characters, including Tony the Tiger and the Pillsbury Doughboy. As an icon, the tropical bird is well known for its colorful appearance, more so concentrated upon its beak. Over the years, Toucan Sam has seen various upgrades to his look, ending in the more recognizable colors that we see in modern times.
Sam’s beak was originally colored pink, red, and yellow-orange, which was an homage to the original three colors of the cereal. However, it is known that in recent years, the Froot Loops cereal comes in eight colors: red, yellow, orange, green, purple, pink, blue, and gold. The Toucan Sam character was originally voiced by Mel Blanc in 1963 and is widely known for saying the phrase, “Follow your nose!”
8 Fill in the Blanc–Name Change
During his high school years, Mel Blanc was known to be a bit of a troublemaker and a class clown. His original last name was “Blank,” but one of his teachers made fun of his last name. The teacher said that he was blank, just like his last name, which is what led Mel to legally change his name later.
7 Bugs Bunny in a Coma?
Mel Blanc made himself famous through the great work that he performed as he assumed various voiceover roles. His most notable character is none other than Bugs Bunny. The larger-than-life figure routinely uttered the phrase, “Eh, what’s up, doc?” when exchanging words with other characters in the Looney Tunes show. It was this phrase that became a hallmark for Bugs Bunny, and it solidified the legacy of Mel Blanc.
In 1961, Blanc suffered the misfortune of a life-threatening car accident, which landed him in a coma. It was reported that doctors were unsuccessful at waking Blanc from his comatose state. However, one of the doctors asked Mel, “Bugs? Bugs Bunny? Are you there?” That is when Blanc uttered his most famous phrase. It was later that Mel Blanc gave credit to Bugs Bunny as being the reason that he continued to live.
6 Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones–From Mel’s Hospital Bed
In addition to many of Mel’s famous voiceovers from the Looney Tunes franchise, he also voiced cartoon characters on the successful show The Flintstones. Created in 1960 by Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones featured the nuclear family of Fred and Wilma Flintstone along with their daughter Pebbles and pet dinosaur Dino. They also routinely interacted with their neighborhood friends Barney and Betty Rubble, along with their son Bamm-Bamm.
During his career, Mel Blanc voiced Barney Rubble and Dino, who were regular characters in the once-popular show. After the near-death experience from his car accident, Blanc continued to do voiceovers from his home bed and hospital bed during recovery. This was all while being in a full-body cast, along with all The Flintstone cast members recording in the same room with Blanc. Yabba-dabba-Do!
5 “Looney” Is as “Looney Does”
Mel Blanc was a pioneer and a genius of his day. The level of voice acting that he exhibited was brilliant in his performance, which became noticeable as he worked on his craft as a voiceover artist. Blanc utilized the art of what is called “method acting.” It is defined as a technique used in performance to fully become the character. This is done through emotion and immersing oneself in the role for a long period of time.
Blanc was widely known for putting himself into the cartoon characters that he voiced. So much so that when he was in the sound booth recording, those in the studio could see the exact character that he was voicing. One can imagine what he looked like while in the role of the Tasmanian Devil, which he also voiced during his career.
4 A Chip off the Old Block
Mel Blanc’s legacy as a voiceover actor spanned decades which has been documented over 60 years in the business. At the age of 81, Mel Blanc passed away in 1989. While his influence was etched into the world of animation, his legacy was passed on to his son. Noel Blanc continued where his father left off shortly after his passing, but more so in minor roles.
Noel Blanc voiced Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and the Tasmanian Devil in the show Tiny Toon Adventures. He also made an appearance on an episode of Family Guy as the voice of Elmer Fudd, which was his last credited role in 2006. He has since retired from producing and voice acting. In an interview with reporter Mike Polcino of Antiques and Collectibles magazine, Noel said, “I never really wanted to do voices. I directed and wrote and performed, but not as a voice person. But while I was directing my dad, I realized that I could start doing some of these characters, and he said, ‘Gee, you sound like me.’”
3 Mel Blanc Tried to Eat His Vegetables
As a kid, your parents probably told you that if you ate all your vegetables, you would grow up to be healthy and strong. Attempting to eat his vegetables—particularly carrots—was a part of Mel Blanc’s acting when he voiced Bugs Bunny. There were many instances of Bugs Bunny munching on a carrot as he stated the phrase, “Eh, what’s up, doc?” To be in character, Mel Blanc found himself chewing on the orange delight.
However, it was rumored that Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots because of witnesses seeing him spit out his carrots while doing his voiceover. The truth is, Blanc was not allergic to carrots; rather, he found it difficult to do his lines with carrots in his mouth. Other options were considered, including celery and apples. However, this proved not to be useful. Ultimately, it was decided that Blanc chew, stop the recording so that he could spit his carrots out, and then resume recording his next lines. Talk about not talking with your mouth full.
2 Kiss My Tuchus!
Mel Blanc’s ethnic heritage was that of Jewish ancestry. One might surmise that because of his background, he understood Jewish sayings within the culture. Apparently, Blanc’s license plate on his car read “KMIT.” When asked by a representative of the California DMV if it stood for a radio station (due to it being illegal to advertise using a license plate), Blanc simply said, “No, that’s actually an old Jewish expression, ‘know me in truth.’”
However, the phrase meant “kish mir im tuchis,” which has its origins in Yiddish. This simply means, “Kiss my ***.”
1 The Great Compromise–Warner Bros.
There is no denying that Mel Blanc paved the way for future voice actors. However, it came at a price earlier in his career. There was a time when voice actors did not receive on-screen credit for animated cartoons. Blanc requested a raise from Warner Brothers, but he was rejected. However, as a compromise, Blanc was given credit by adding the title “Vocal Characterizationist” to his name. Not only did this give him the recognition that he deserved, but it also made sure that those in the same role were given credit in the future. Thank you, Mel!