Wednesday, July 10, 2019

“That’s All Folks…”

Melvin Jerome Blank, known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” was born on May 30, 1908, in San Francisco, CA, to Frederick and Eva Blank. While in high school in Portland, OR, Mel changed his surname from Blank to Blanc, when a teacher told him that he would amount to nothing, like his last name, Blank.

After graduating Lincoln High School in Portland, in 1927, Mel served as the youngest conductor of an orchestra, performed in vaudeville shows in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, and made his radio acting debut on Portland’s KGW, where his ability to voice different characters attracted attention. Mel married Estelle Rosenbaum in 1928, who, in 1935, encouraged him to move to Los Angeles and bring his formidable vocal talents to the Warner Bros.’ owned station KFWB in Hollywood. Mel worked on the Jack Benny Program, The Abbot and Costello Show, Burns and Allen and G.I. Journal. From September 3, 1946 to June 24, 1947, Mel starred in the “Mel Blanc Show.” 

Mel Blanc is most associated with his classic audio tracks for animated cartoons. In 1936, Mel joined Leon Schlesinger Productions who produced cartoon shorts for Warner Bros. Fate had Mel replace Joe Dougherty, who voiced Porky Pig, with whom Blanc will always be associated, and he also debuted the lisping Daffy Duck. In 1940, Blanc began voicing “Looney Tunes” characters, such as the iconic Bugs Bunny. Blanc also created the famous laugh of Universal Pictures’ “Woody Woodpecker, but he was replaced due to his exclusive agreement with Warner Bros. In 1960, After his exclusive contract with Warner Bros. lapsed, Blanc worked for Hanna-Barbera productions, voicing the audio for Barney Rubble on “The Flintstones” and Cosmo Spacely of “The Jetsons.” 

Blanc’s voice provided the audio for Bugs Bunny, Speedy Gonzales, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat (which Blanc claimed was merely his own voice with a spray lisp at the end) Dino the Dinosaur, Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew, Marvin the Martian, Secret Squirrel, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, Tasmanian Devil, Tom and Jerry, Yosemite Sam, and Wally Gator. Blanc was so identified with his voices that after a serious car accident which left him in a two-week coma, a doctor, trying an unorthodox approach, asked his patient, “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?” After a slight pause, Blanc weakly answered, “Eh… just fine, Doc. How are you?” The doctor then asked Tweety if he was there too. Blanc’s response: “I tawt a taw a puddy tat.”

Blanc died on July 10, 1989 in Los Angeles. In his will, Blanc instructed that his tombstone read, “That’s All Folks.” Both Mel and his creation, Bugs Bunny, possess stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.


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