Happy birthday to everyone’s favorite cartoon rabbit, who “officially” turns 70 today. Back on July 27, 1940, Bugs Bunny made his debut in the Oscar-nominated Tex Avery-helmed short “A Wild Hare” (watch it after the jump). Though a similar rabbit character had appeared in a few Warner Bros./Leon Schlesinger cartoons over the prior two years, that little guy is mostly understood not to be an early incarnation of Bugs, whose biography claims he was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 1940.
At 70 years old, Bugs is apparently taking it pretty easy with his career, having appeared in little since the underrated 2003 hybrid “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” with which Joe Dante got to pay his biggest homage yet to the classic WB animations, especially those by Chuck Jones. But he will be returning to TV screens this fall in the Cartoon Network’s “The Looney Tunes Show,” in which he’ll be living in the suburbs with Daffy Duck as a roommate, “Odd Couple” style.
I credit my childhood love of Bugs and friends (a love that never died, by the way) with having been a gateway to classic live-action Hollywood works, especially to the Marx Brothers because Bugs is kind of modeled after Groucho. He also impersonates him in “Slick Hare” (while Elmer Fudd looks like Harpo), which could easily have been my first exposure to Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet, Carmen Miranda and Lauren Bacall. Of course, all were cartoon caricatures and I certainly didn’t know who most were for years. Regardless, I’d like to thank Bugs for making the introductions.