This weekend, Leonard Maltin and I will be presenting a tribute screening, at the TCM Fest in Hollywood, to the 75th anniversary of Bugs Bunny. But if you ask Warner Bros. today they’ll tell you Bugs Bunny began in 1940 – and that’s IF they’ll admit to any birth dates at all!
Major international conglomerates will do what they have to do to protect their corporate assets. “Bugs Bunny”, as far as they are concerned, looks a certain way, acts a certain way and says certain things (“What’s Up, Doc?”) in a certain sounding way. That certain way began in 1940 – with Tex Avery’s A Wild Hare.
However, Warner Bros. themselves (and Leon Schlesinger before them) had traditionally pointed to 1938 as the birth year of the wabbit. The inside cover of the vintage Bugs Bunny comic book above attests to that. The copyright sheets below (courtesy of David Gerstein) were all prepared prior to the release of A Wild Hare, all three identify the zany rabbit as “Bugs Bunny”. (Bugs was first named on-screen in 1941’s Elmer’s Pet Rabbit). Heck, even in a 1939 Schlesinger merchandising manual (below, at right), ‘Bugs’ Bunny is identified as such a year before his “official” birth in A Wild Hare.
Click thumbnails below to enlarge and read. Below that is the “Any Bonds Today” short mentioned in the comic page above. Oh – and Happy Birthday, Bugs – You don’t look a day over 73!