Animation History
February 19, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

WANTED: The Bugs Bunny Show

bugs_bunny_show

Yesterday I hosted a Looney Tunes marathon screening (six hours!) in Los Angeles. I devoted one hour of it to running a bunch of ABC’s Bugs Bunny Show (1960) bumpers and TV commercials.

For years I’ve been obsessed with the original prime-time network Bugs Bunny Show partly because it was my first exposure to the classic Looney Tunes characters. But also because the original 52 episodes have been locked up in the Warner vaults and haven’t been seen in their original format for decades.

I really can’t understand it. Fresh animation by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson and their crews, bridging classic cartoons in each episode. Much of this material is quite good. Why wouldn’t the studio do everything in its power to restore these and make them available?

One reason we do not see these, is because the original negatives were abused – cut up to suit the whims of Saturday morning reruns for 40 years. The show was never syndicated – it remained on network television (usually ABC or CBS) after its initial prime time run. Thus, there were never any 16mm syndication prints as their were for most TV shows – only a few (usually black & white) back-up prints for network airing.

german_bugs Bunny

I hold out hope that duplicate color negatives exist in Europe. The show was shown, intact, for years in foreign territories.

One of my fascinations with the program is all the promotional art created for the show. These unique title cards (below) were created to billboard the coming attractions at the end of each episode.

elmer_fudd Bugs_daffy_tweety

Did you know the singing frog from One Froggy Evening was originally named “Enrico”? I suppose Chuck simply forgot he already christened the character back in the 1960s on The Bugs Bunny Show when he renamed him “Michigan J. Frog” sometime in the 1970s. This is the sort of thing having this show languish in the vaults will cause.

enrico

The studio artists created all sorts of art connected to the TV show. Like this sponsors bumper for Colgate:

bugs_colgate

Or this box of “Top 3″ cereal for sponsor Post Cereals:

Bugs_top3

Merchandisers also got on board to support the TV exposure for the Looney Tunes. Western Publishing (Gold Key Comics) cashed in with several issues of Bugs Bunny Show-Time:

bugs_bunny_showtime

Colorforms – years ahead of PD video producers – produced this particularly ugly kids product under license from Warner Bros.

bugs_bunny_game

It was common for TV networks to hire a caricaturist to create art featuring the stars of their series… Can anyone identify the artist of this official publicity photo?

Bugs-publicity_photo

Dear Warner Bros.

Please restore and release the original Bugs Bunny Show. You’ve got gold on your hands, if you play it right.

35 Comments

  • This is a situation where computer colorization of the B&W elements wouldn’t bother me at all, since the bumpers originally were done in color, and in some cases, the color charts for those segments are still available.

  • Yeah, I’m still waiting for a complete “The Bugs Bunny Show” set. I think it would sell well even if Warners release it as part of the “Warners Archive” brand.

    • me too!
      they should also make a set of the bugs bunny road runner show

    • yeah! it’ll be called “Warner Archives: The Bugs Bunny Show: Back to the Classics.”

    • and last of all,

    • HERE’S THE LIST O’ SHORTS:
      1. RABBIT SEASONING
      2.RABBIT FIRE
      3.DUCK!RABBIT!DUCK!
      4.ALI BABA BUNNY
      5.THE ABOMIBLE SNOW RABBIT
      6.BEANSTALK BUNNY
      7.SHOW BIZ BUNNY
      8.PEOPLE TO BUNNY
      9.PERSON TO BUNNY
      10. THIS IS A LIFE?
      11. THE ICEMAN DUCKETH
      12. THE MILLION HARE
      13. BOX OFFICE BUNNY
      14. DAFFY DUCK FOR PRESIDENT
      15. PORKY PIG’S FEAT

      FROM LOGAN

  • i remember the show like it was yesterday. I think it was on the ABC for 2 seasons om 1961 to 62. The cartoons the featured were newer than the ones I would see on the after-school cartoon shows on the local stations. I remember the wrap-arounds were great and more entertaining then the ones Disney would do with their shorts for the Wonderful World of Color. I remember seeing the Road Runner and Coyote for the first time on “The Bugs Bunny Show”. After the network run, ABC started running the original episodes on Saturday mornings. When the show went to CBS, they was heavily edited for time constrains and for some violence. Really too bad the original negatives were cut up and abused. There might be some 16mm air prints somewhere. i think I seen a few for sale on ebay…

  • I remember the segments from the CBS Bugs Bunny Roadrunner show (when it was a super 90 minute block), and thought the whole format was cool! They were produced when the original run of the series was still in production, so they fit right in; both voices and drawings. (I guess those were what was left of those original negatives). Then, subsequent reformats of the show dropped those for good. I then wished they would resurrect the original show, which I had never seen.

  • I think it actually began airing in prime time in 1960. The above Elmer Fudd promo art has a 1960 copyright. Yes, there was quite a contrast between the pre-48 cartoons and the later ones shown on ABC. This is where the Tasmanian Devil got his popularity with only a handful of cartoons. We probably learned more about backstage show business from listening to the theme song than we did from any live action show.

  • I was nine when the BBS first aired and I loved it! Still really enjoy seeing what is available (old b&w film and what’s on some of the Golden collections ). The wrap-arounds were so entertaining and made it truly a “show”. I will be at the front (or near the front) of the line to shell out good money if Warner ever brings this show to DVD. Jerry, I know you’ve been working on this for a long time–please don’t give up. We “old-timers” have to keep all the Golden Age treasures alive for ourselves and for those that follow us.
    best, DJAnderson

  • Jerry:
    I’ve got a 16mm B&W Bugs Bunny Show episode with commercials in my collection.

    • Thanks for letting me know, Ken. I have about six or seven 16mm prints (including one in color!). I also have a bunch of bridges from other collectors amassed on video… What I haven’t done is compiled all the known episodes in collectors hands into one chronologic DVD-R (for personal research viewings, of course). I need to do that.

      Professionally, I have discovered that Warner Bros. has all the episodes, completely intact with original commercials, in 35mm black & white. It’s the color elements that are messed up – and its the cost of reconciling the whole thing that prevents this project from moving forward. I cannot stress enough all the trouble that had to be gone through to get the restorations we did on the Golden Collections – and that was simply for “bonus material” (the rule of thumb at Warners is not to restore anything for bonus material).

      Every few years I go on a rant about the sorry fate of The Bugs Bunny Show. After my screening yesterday, I had to bring it up again. Maybe it’s time for us to do our own “underground” compilation… :/

    • Sneaky..But I Love it!..I would gladly buy even B@W 35mm copies on DVD. Even if there only were 6 or 7 of them.

  • I have BB Show IB footage in my collection from the episode where Daffy is dressed as Bugs and harassed by a quasi-Lonesome Lenny, but it’s missing the last scene. I find that the case with most 16mm color prints of the shows. It probably is high time to transfer everything we can personally.

  • or 16 MM even..

  • Is It Like How They Cut Out Huckleberry Hound Show, Quick Draw McGraw Show And Yogi Bear Show Bumpers

  • Old enough to remember prime-time cartoons — were they all in the wake of Flintstones or am I misremembering? Rocky and his Friends rose out of syndication as The Bullwinkle Show; and I’m pretty sure the Alvin Show was originally prime time. Both used variations of Bugs Bunny’s giving-a-show format (although I think Bullwinkle’s stagebound bits came first). Handy device for linking up shorts.

    Later variations traded the backstage conceit for characters showing their films as films. Woody Woodpecker had that 16mm projector; Casper assembled his pals in front of a cloud-based TV screen; and Porky Pig had a barn dance featuring a television set. Even the Saturday morning Bugs Bunny eventually had Bugs pointing to a home movie screen to introduce Road Runner.

    This signifies something but I don’t know what.

    • And, naturally, the opening for “The Alvin” show had the Chipmunks running around their TV studio, with Alvin calling cues from the control booth before zipping out to join his brothers in the onstage dance number (just seconds before Clyde Crashcup wandered by and sucked all the action out of the room, of course)!

  • Jerry, if you’re interested, I’ve got a few recorded episodes of the so-called Season 3 (1971-72), which is nothing but stuff recycled from Season 1 & 2 and that’s the only season that went international. My recordings are of VHS quality (recorded around 1990′s but not by me) and PAL master with Polish voice-over done to it, of course.

  • You may want to pursue Canadian networks. I remember being very young and seeing this show (I’m fairly sure) on CBC. I do remember the Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour mostly but I remember it was The Bugs Bunny Show before then.

    • Indeed, “The Bugs Bunny Show” was broadcast on the CBC all the way through the 1960′s. I believe originally it was on Tuesday evenings around 5:30 PM and then switched to Saturdays at 5 PM by the mid-1960′s. So, the existence of full 16mm black and white copies is as a result of distribution to Canada (and probably England and Australia). Colour broadcasts started in Canada in mid-1966, so it is likely that the CBC requested colour prints from that time onward, but here’s the rub. By 1966 “The Bugs Bunny Show” would have been in a radically different form in the Warner vault than that of its ABC network version.

      I recall seeing cartoons on CBC (probably from “BB Show” season 2) that were never, to my knowledge, run in the U.S. Saturday morning version. These cartoons were predominately ones that subsequently showed up in a United States only syndication package in September 1967 in their complete theatrical form.

      In late 1973 I saw a 35mm theatrical “Bugs Bunny Show” (just like on TV) as an short subject ahead of the Bogdanovich feature “What Up, Doc?” at a cinema in Bournemouth, England.

  • In addition the responses above, I’ve gotten several private emails from collectors offering up their copies of various Bugs Bunny Shows. In the next few weeks (if I don’t get too distracted) I’ll go through my collection and note which episodes I already have bridges for, then I’ll compile a “most wanted” list of material I still need. With 52 episodes, I’m afraid it may be difficult (or impossible)… but let’s start the process…

  • I put the suggestion to Warner Archive about a year ago and they said that there was no way that the show could be restructured. It would be nice to see it happen.

  • Then there are the complete versions of the Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw shows, with complete color bumpers and main titles — also on my wish list.

    • We’d like to see that too, Tom. Also, it’s really nice to see you here.

  • I have 2 B&W half hours with Canadian commercials.

  • Ooh! I’ve been waiting years for the right opportunity to post this little-known (or cared about) fact: I was, _literally_, only three and a half years old when “The Bugs Bunny Show” debuted on prime time on ABC in the fall of 1960! (Well, that dates me…) And I think I still remember some of it. That’s very likely when I became a Warner Bros. cartoon fan…

  • I have an 16mm IB tech Bugs Bunny show from the late ’60′s. I’m guessing it was when it was run on ABC Sunday mornings by select affiliates (when the super hero phase was on). Any weekend morning broadcast would have had more commercial time than that of a network show from the early ’60′s thus all of the linking material was pretty much gone from this visually excellent print. Alas, the sound track is poor.

    But wasn’t all the Bugs Bunny Show material shot in black and white and then conformed to the Technicolor process? Wouldn’t the original black and white strips still be in existence? Maybe Warner Bros. is just not prepared to expend the financial resources necessary to “restore” from these materials.

    I’ve seen very rare copies of the Bugs Bunny Show aired in eastern Canada that feature some of the linking material. These were colour prints that had been savagely edited from the original BB Show during the WB-7 Arts or Kinney National era for distribution. I think that this was when the damage was really done.

    • The Bugs Bunny Show bridging sequences were originally shot in color. They were first broadcast in black & white (you’ll note that, like The Flintstones, Rocky and Bullwinkle and other TV cartoons of that era, the colors are intentionally neutral pastels that will “read” in black & white). The commercials featuring Bugs and Daffy for Tang or Post Cereals might have been produced in black & white . Warners DOES have all the bridging material intact in 35mm black & white. The original color negatives have been chopped up because they reused them over and over again in different configurations for Saturday Morning reshowings… Unfortunately the company can see no financial incentive in reassembling the material.

  • IF Warners DOES have all the bridging material intact in 35mm black & white how much of an undertaking would it be to colorize those prints?

    I know that sounds terrible but I bet they could get close

    • I agree – if Warner Archive just released the BW version they have, I’m sure it would be picked up by collectors, including myself.

  • So make a DVD copy of the B&W films with all the commericals and stuff.

    Far less costly than colorizing, and “historically accurate” to the way it was first broadcast.

    Color would be nice, but I’d buy it in B&W just to have.

  • I remember German tv channel Pro7 showing The Bugs Bunny Show in colours about 18-19 years ago. I don’t know if the show was complete or not, I just remember it being shown early in the morning.

  • I still remember Bugs singing “Gee Whiz, Willikins, Golly Gee” a la Elvis.

  • Did anything ever come of this idea to compile what you have onto a research DVD?

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