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Bugs Bunny is an American animated character created in 1938 at Leon Schlesinger Productions, later Warner Bros. Cartoons. Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray hare or rabbit and is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality, a pronounced New York accent, and his portrayal as a trickster. He has primarily appeared in animated cartoons, most notably the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of theatrical short films. His popularity there led to his becoming a corporate mascot of the Warner Bros. company. Bugs has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character and is the ninth most portrayed film personality in the world.
According to Bugs Bunny: 50 Years and Only One Grey Hare, Bugs was born on July 27, 1940 in Brooklyn, New York in a warren under Ebbets Field, home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In reality, he was created by many animators and staff, including Tex Avery, who directed A Wild Hare, Bugs’ debut role, and Robert McKimson, who created the definitive “Bugs Bunny” character design. According to Mel Blanc, the character’s original voice actor, Bugs has a Flatbush accent. Bugs has had numerous catchphrases, the most prominent being a casual “Eh… What’s up, doc?”, usually said while chewing a carrot.
The cartoon opens with two castaways adrift on a small raft in the middle of the ocean, underscored with “Asleep in the Deep”. Delirious from hunger, they start imagining each other (or even their own limbs) as food. They spot an island in the distance and rush ashore, underscored by “Down Where the Trade Winds Play”, a song used several times in the cartoon (and in others, such as Gorilla My Dreams), where they meet Bugs Bunny, who is munching on his carrot as usual. To his friendly, “What’s the good word, strangers?” they answer “FOOD!” and start after Bugs, who leaps away on a vine with a Tarzan yell.
Working at a U.S. Army Airfield under the banner “Victory Through Hare Power,” the Master Heckler finally meets his match. While reading a book about gremlins- tiny creatures who sabotage (“saba-tog-ee,” says Bugs) military aircraft- Bugs Bunny happens upon one such creature, calmly attempting to detonate a blockbuster bomb with a mallet. An unusually gullible Bugs chases the gremlin into a bomber, which, of course, winds up airborne and out of control.
An unusually chubby Elmer Fudd goes prospecting for gold in the desert, where he is bedevilled–and nearly blown up–by the ubiquitous Bugs Bunny. Upon finding out that Bugs has a gold tooth, Elmer decides to grab the glittering dental extremity for himself. In the course of events, Elmer reveals that he wears a girdle (and warns the men in the audience not to laugh), and Bugs is briefly led to believe that he’s been reduced to a pile of bones (“Gruesome, ain’t it?”) Ultimately, however, Elmer has occasion to shout “Euweeka! Gold at wast!” V for Victowy!!!
While out on the hunt for rabbits, Elmer receives a telegram from “Eastern Union” saying his Uncle Louie will leave him $3 million in his will, as long as he doesn’t harm any animals—especially rabbits. “We’re in the Money” plays in the underscore. Elmer, with his rounded-L’s-and-R’s speech impediment, of course cannot pronounce “Uncle Louie” correctly; which sounds more like “Uncoh Wooie”. Bugs, with characteristic élan, takes full advantage of the situation by moving in with Elmer. As he showers and shaves, Bugs sings “Angel in Disguise”, from the 1940 Warner Brothers film It All Came True (which, like The Man Who Came to Dinner, starred Ann Sheridan).
Elmer is a Mountie in the North Woods, out to arrest Bugs for being a “scwewy wabbit.” Things go badly for Elmer from the start as Bugs, who is “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” handcuffs him to a bomb. Bugs then takes advantage of Elmer’s superhuman gullibility by swiping his hat and pretending to be his commanding officer- Bugs “drums Elmer out of the regiment” and tears off his uniform (including his boxers). Elmer cries, “I am a diswace to the wegiment!” After a long chase through caves and snowbanks, Bugs finally takes pity on Elmer and gives himself up. Bugs is brought before a firing squad, but when asked for his last wish, he wishes he was in Dixie, hooray, hooray.