Earlier this week was the 20th anniversary of Mel Blanc’s passing at 81 from emphysema. Dubbed ‘the man of a thousand voices,’ for my generation Mel Blanc is the sound of Saturday mornings and afternoons as we watched endless Looney Tunes episodes.
For older generations, he was the voice of radio characters, animated shorts played before the main movie, and the first run television shows we would see years later as reruns.
Mel Blanc was the first voice actor to receive on-screen credit. And no wonder – the characters he voiced is too long to list here but just the Looney Tunes characters include: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner… WOW.
And I can actually hear each one in my head as I type their names! How about you?
It’s hard to believe that for a man who relied on his voice he actually began smoking at nine years old and continued his pack a day habit until 77, when he was finally pushed to quit.
But he we nearly lost him in 1961 from a horrific car accident on Sunset Boulevard; he wasn’t expected to survive and remained in a coma for a couple of weeks. Everyone despaired that he would come out of it, when finally one of his neurologists decided to take a different approach.
He leaned over Mel’s bed and said, “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?”
After a pause, in a weak voice, Mel answered “Eh… just fine, Doc. How are you?”
The doctor then asked Tweety if he was there, too.
Mel: “I tot I taw a puddy tat.”
And he was back!
Mel Blanc is regarded as the most prolific voice actor in the history of the industry. It is an honor and a privilege to remember his contribution AND the billions of belly laughs and chuckles he gave us all.
That’s All Folks!
Mel Blanc, May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989