Pam’s Pictorama Toy Post: I found Bugs one day while doing a leisurely stroll through eBay of the kind I (perhaps luckily) rarely have the chance to do. While looking through the listings for vintage character toys I stumbled on him. No one was showing any interest in him which was surprising for such a nice toy and he was an excellent price. I figured what the heck, and put a more or less minimum bid on him. The next thing I knew, he was mine and he has a place of pride among the cat collection.
In no way was I disappointed – he is a splendid toy in excellent condition. He is made by the M&H Novelty Company, NY, NY and is a Warner Bros. toy. His carrot is detachable with a small hook and eye of which the eye on the carrot side is currently lost. It unfortunately also looks exactly like a variety of catnip carrots I purchase for the kits which is filled with a heady mixture that makes them just insane.
Of course, Bugs Bunny cartoons played an enormous role in my formative years. Whereas a young Kim Deitch was being treated to television runs of silent Aesop’s Fable cartoons, for me it was Bugs, Elmore Fudd and The Road Runner. In some ways this makes me and my generation somewhat deprived by comparison, but nonetheless I retain a deep affection for Bugs. Kim and I agree that Bugs was the first to introduce us to certain early tunes – who can forget him singing about The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady for example? A snatch of As Time Goes By? Warbling a passage from It Can’t Be Wrong. Or singing I dream of Genie with the light brown hare… Kim has pointed out that these are generally tunes used in Warner Bros. movies which does make some sense. Other notable examples, Ain’t We Got Fun, There is No Place Like Home (Be it every so crumbly, there’s no place like Rome…) and You Ought to be in Pictures to name a few.
Meanwhile, a quick internet search reminds me that while Bugs would memorably sing snatches of popular music, his roots in classical and opera run deep as well. Without drawing it to our attention, Bugs and company introduced us to everything from Wagner (The Flying Dutchman and Pilgrim’s Chorus featured in What’s Opera Doc?) to Strauss, Chopin (who can forget him singing I wish my brother George was here to the tune of the Minute Waltz in Hyde and Hare?) and Rossini.
Bugs thew off one-liners like a Borscht belt comedian, sang, danced and crossed-dressed his way across our televisions in an endless loop where we absorbed and memorized his vaudeville style lessons without realizing we had done so. Suddenly we found ourselves to be nascent adults, reciting whole passages of the cartoons during college drinking games or late-night first dates. There are whole websites devoted just to the music of Bugs Bunny – the lyrics of the popular songs (Looney Lyrics) and another which is devoted just to the classical tunes and opera (15 Pieces of Classical Music That Showed Up in Looney Tunes Cartoons.)
Is it any wonder that when I discovered popular music of the 20’s and 30’s I felt like I had come home? Nope – I was just following my nose down the road where Bugs lead me during my most formative years.