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Monday, 30 May 2016

Mel Blanc born 30 May 1908

Melvin (Mel) Jerome Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio and television commercials, Blanc is best known for his work with Warner Bros. during the Golden Age of American animation (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such iconic characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Voices", Blanc is regarded as one of the most gifted and influential persons in his field. 

American entertainer Mel Blanc, who would make his name and fortune by way of his muscular vocal chords, started out in the comparatively non-verbal world of band music. He entered radio in 1927, and within six years was co-starring with his wife on a largely adlibbed weekly program emanating from Portland, Oregon, titled Cobwebs and Nuts. Denied a huge budget, Blanc was compelled to provide most of the character voices himself, and in so doing cultivated the skills that would bring him fame.  

He made the Los Angeles radio rounds in the mid-1930s, then was hired to provide the voice for a drunken bull in the 1937 Warner Bros. "Looney Tune" Picador Porky. Taking over the voice of Porky ("Th-th-th-that's all, Folks") Pig from a genuine stammerer who knew nothing about comic timing, Blanc became a valuable member of the "Termite Terrace" cartoon staff. Before long, he created the voice of Daffy Duck, whose lisping cadence was inspired by Warner Bros. cartoon boss Leon Schlesinger.  

In 1940, Blanc introduced his most enduring Warners voice -- the insouciant, carrot-chopping Bugs Bunny (ironically, Blanc was allergic to carrots). He freelanced with the MGM and Walter Lantz animation firms (creating the laugh for Woody Woodpecker at the latter studio) before signing exclusively with Warners in the early 1940s. Reasoning that his limitless character repetoire -- including Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Speedy Gonzales, Tweety Pie, Pepe Le Pew, Yosemite Sam and so many others -- had made him a valuable commodity to the studio, Blanc asked for a raise. Denied this, he demanded and got screen credit -- a rarity for a cartoon voice artist of the 1940s.  

Though his salary at Warners never went above $20,000 per year, Blanc was very well compensated for his prolific work on radio. He was a regular on such series as The Abbott and Costello Show and The Burns and Allen Show, and in 1946 headlined his own weekly radio sitcom. For nearly three decades, Blanc was closely associated with the radio and TV output of comedian Jack Benny, essaying such roles as the "Si-Sy-Si" Mexican, harried violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the parrot, and the sputtering Maxwell automobile. 

While his voice was heard in dozens of live-action films, Blanc appeared on screen in only two pictures: Neptune's Daughter (1949) and Kiss Me Stupid (1964). Extremely busy in the world of made-for-TV cartoons during the 1950s and 1960s, Blanc added such new characterizations to his resume as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones (1960-66) and Cosmo Spacely on The Jetsons (1962). 

On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident, as he was going to a studio to work on a commercial. He was driving alone when his sports car collided head-on with a car driven by 18-year-old college student Arthur Rolston on Sunset Boulevard. Rolston suffered minor injuries, but Blanc was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center with a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for two weeks, along with sustaining fractures to both legs and the pelvis.  

About two weeks after the accident, one of Blanc’s neurologists tried a different approach. Blanc was asked, “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?” After a slight pause, Blanc answered, in a weak voice, “Eh... just fine, Doc. How are you?” The doctor then asked Tweety if he was there too. “I tot I taw a puddy tat,” was the reply. Blanc returned home on March 17. Four days later, Blanc filed a US$500,000 lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. His accident, one of 26 in the preceding two years at the intersection known as Dead Man's Curve, resulted in the city funding restructuring curves at the location. 

Blanc began smoking cigarettes when he was 9 years old. He continued his pack-a-day habit until he was diagnosed with emphysema, which pushed him to quit at age 77. On May 19, 1989, Blanc was checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by his family  when they noticed he had a bad cough while shooting a commercial; he was originally expected to recover. Blanc's health then took a turn for the worse and doctors found that he had advanced coronary artery disease.

He died on July 10 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California at the age of 81. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS" (the phrase was a trademark of Blanc's character Porky Pig.) (Info edited from AMG & Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For “Mel Blanc - Greatest Hits” go here:

1. Woody Woodpecker
2. Toot Toot Tootsie
3. There's a Hole in the Iron Curtain
4. I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat
5. Yosemite Sam
6. I Tan't Wait Till Quithmuth Day
7. Christmas Chopsticks
8. I Tell My Troubles To Joe
9. The Missus Wouldn't Approve
10. Morris
11. Grandfather's Will
12. Tweet and Toot
13. The E-I- O Song
14. Barney Google
15. Pussy Cat Parade
16. Little Red Monkey
17. Somebody Stole My Gal
18. I Love me I'm Wild About Myself
19. Yah Das Ist Ein Christmas Tree
20. Ten Little Bottles In The sink
21. K-K-K-Katy
22. The Lady Bird Song
23. I Dess I Dotta Doe
24. Money
25. The Hat I Got For Christmas is Too Beeg
26. Big Bear Lake
27. I'm Glad That I'm Bugs Bunny
28. I'm Just Wild About Animal Crackers
29. Lord Bless is Soul
30. Tia Juana D'Ya Wanna

der bajazzo said...

I have been a big Mel Blanc fan from around 1949.

Thank you very much for sharing this.

Scott Marks said...

Outstanding! Blanc's vocal artistry is unrivaled to this day. Th-th-th-thanks for the laughs!