15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Looney Tunes’
Warner Bros. stepped into the world of animated shorts in 1930, unleashing a smash hit with Looney Tunes and giving us endless TV series, films, comics, video games and albums spanning childhoods (and adulthoods) across generations. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Sylvester and friends are animated royalty (and more beneficial to society than actual royalty) whose impact has echoed far beyond the screen.
From Daffy Duck redefining the meaning of “nimrod” to Bugs changing the concept of contemporary Super Bowl commercials, few areas of the pop-culture landscape haven’t been touched by their cartoonishly large hands. So, in honor of our animated overlords, here are 15 trivia tidbits about the characters that gave us an Acme truckload of animated firsts...
Bugs Bunny Was the First Animated Drag Queen
Bugs Bunny is no stranger to dressing up as a woman, and he does so with utter and commendable confidence. The shtick never comes across as mockery or ridicule because Bugs can strut that fluff like the best of them. RuPaul has even credited the fabulous hare for introducing him to the world of drag when the superstar was still a youngin’.
Walt Disney versus Warner Bros.
Faced with Walt Disney’s animated success with both Silly Symphonies and that damn mouse, Warner Bros. entered the animated short film race by creating Looney Tunes and throwing every possible joke at fans of motion pictures. “They never went for the cute stuff at Warners,” Warner Bros. writer Michael Maltese has said, referring to the Looney Tunes team’s goal to make each other laugh. “There was only one guy, Chuck (Jones), at the time, who had the Disney syndrome: The urge to make the most beautiful cartoons going. (Friz) Freleng would say, ‘Ah, bullshit! Let’s knock ’em dead.’” That they did, as their very first animation featured goofy old Bosko and a dancing bathtub.
It Was the First U.S. Animated Shorts Series to Extensively Use Parody
Looney Tunes parodied everything from jazz numbers to movies to famous actors — even their cartoon nemesis, Disney. A Corny Concerto, for instance, is a 1943 Merry Melodies short that parodies Disney’s Silly Symphonies, specifically spoofing Fantasia.
Taz Has Faced Off Against Wonder Woman
There’s a 2017 DC Comic called Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil Special Vol 1 in which Diana finds her old adversary, Taz, in the Tasmanian Jungle years after she defeated him as a teenager. Taz helps Wonder Woman free the Amazons from some army of literal trolls, and it’s just amazing that this crossover exists.
‘The Dover Boys’ Got a Remake in 2018
Chuck Jones’ hugely successful 1942 short, The Dover Boys, is a parody of a book series called The Rover Boys and features some groundbreaking techniques for its time. It’s just under 9 minutes, is regarded by some as the first ever modern cartoon and has been so revered since that in 2018, a total of 90 animators got together to honor it, with each contributing to the remake by adding their own unique style.
Bugs Bunny Has Been Used in False Memory Studies
In researching false memories and how misinformation can skew memory over time, subjects were shown false advertising in the early 2000s that claimed Bugs Bunny was hanging out and meeting people at a Disney World Resort. Up to 16 percent of the subjects would later believe that they had met Bugs at the Resort, which is 100 percent implausible since the Warner Bros. character never showed up at a Disney theme park.
‘Looney Tunes’ Was Meta Before Meta Was Even a Thing
Daffy Duck in Hollywood is the 1938 Merry Melodies animated short where Warner Bros. not only spoofed their own studio but had Daffy Duck “plug” his bosses like a good and sarcastic duck should.
Speedy Gonzales Was Once Banned
The “fastest mouse in all Mexico” first appeared in 1953’s Cat-Tails for Two and got his own short film in 1955, simply titled Speedy Gonzales. The sombrero-loving speedster was a hit with everyone at first, but critics were soon worried that he was nothing more than a problematic stereotype whose name was derived from an anti-Mexican sex joke. During the 1980s, ABC banned the mouse who was friends with everyone’s sister, as did Cartoon Network in the 1990s. It was the League of United Latin American Citizens, however, who ended up campaigning for the lovable rodent’s return, labeling him a cultural icon.
The Mel Blanc and His ‘Looney Tunes’ Characters’ Anti-Hard Drugs PSA
Long before a bunch of cartoon All-Stars would tell ’90s kids that drugs turn your brain into a psychedelic theme park ride, Blanc told folks to stay away from heroin and hard drugs in a PSA featuring some of the Looney Tunes characters he voiced so brilliantly.
The Set of Rules That Governed Every Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner Short
Published by Chuck Jones in his 1999 autobiography, Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, the Looney Tunes creators had a set of rules dictating what the two enemy characters were allowed to do. It was a carefully curated list that focused on the use and logic behind the pair’s violence, as well as character traits that these shorts never strayed from.
The HBO Max Reboot Change That Had Fans All Riled Up
When WarnerMedia rebooted their iconic animation to be streamed on HBO Max in 2020 as Looney Tunes Cartoons, they decided to make both Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam essentially gunless. In this new reimagination, Fudd now chases after Bugs using non-firing weapons…
…and our mustached and former gunslinging outlaw Yosemite Sam sports props that include everything from sickles to explosives.
The Last Time Blanc Voiced Porky Pig
Famously taking over the voice of the Looney Tunes porcine resident from voice artist Joe Dougherty (who had an actual stutter and ran overtime during recording sessions), Blanc shaped Porky Pig into the character we know today. Fitting, then, that the last time Blanc voiced Porky was at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? where he closed out the iconic movie.
Cartman Sings a ‘Looney Tunes’ Song When He Gets Zapped By an Alien Ray
In the first episode of South Park, Cartman has a dream about an alien abduction and refuses to believe that they inserted an alien probe up his butt. When he’s struck by an alien ray, Cartman starts singing “I Love to Singa,” which was helped made famous by a 1936 Merry Melodies cartoon directed by Tex Avery.
Marvin the Martian Didn’t Have a Name for 27 Years
That’s right, the little guy with the helmet was simply referred to as “Commander of Flying Saucer X-2” when he was first introduced in the 1952 short, The Hasty Hare. When the question of the character’s possible merchandise eventually came up in 1979, they decided to bestow a name onto the villainous extraterrestrial in The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.
And the Award Goes To… Sylvester the Cat
Of the Looney Tunes characters, three of the sufferin’ succotash cat’s shorts, Tweetie Pie, Speedy Gonzales and Birds Anonymous, have won Academy Awards, making him the most award-winning character of them all.