I grew up hearing Mel Blanc’s voice every Saturday morning. In university my appreciation continued and in our dorm we even had a Bugs Bunny film night. These cartoons were full of political and historical references that we loved to point out and discuss.
Melvin Jerome “Mel” Blanc (5/30/1908 – 7/10/1989) was one of the most talented and well know voice actors of all time. Our university had a very active guest lecturer series in 1981 which included Gwendolyn Brooks, Shirley Chisholm, and Mel Blanc. For Mel Blanc the auditorium was packed. His lecture consisted of a multimedia presentation as well as explaining how he created the personalities of the characters, as well as performing many of his most popular voices.
Short List of the Accomplishments of Mel Blanc’s Career
- Also know as “The Man of 1000 Voices” because of his over 1000 different voice characters.
- Was the first voice actor to be given on screen credit.
- Voiced entire cartoons with different characters simultaneously without overdubbing or editing.
- In 1927, at 19 years old, he started working in radio and later in film and TV, for almost 60 years.
- A doctor who examined him said his vocal chords were as strong as opera singer Enrico Caruso.
- He is honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as himself and Bugs Bunny, one of only three to accomplish this.
My Lecture Memories
The development of the character of Bugs Bunny was very memorable. He explained he tried a number of different vocal accents and finally settled on Brooklyn NY as the best for Bugs Bunny. After his presentation he answered questions from the audience. There were many requests for him to perform his most popular voices. Someone asked if he was ever going to retire. He said he had no plans but he has trained his son to to do all of his voices. At the finish he received a standing ovation. He came from backstage after the lecture and we thanked him for his excellent presentation and shook his hand.
Mel Blanc’s voice is still being heard on new productions via archived recordings. His son only occasionally does the voices and decided not to pursue it as a career. His voices will last forever. By his request in his will his tombstone reads “THAT’S ALL FOLKS”.
For further reading about Mel Blank:
Wikipedia Bio of Mel Blanc
Other celebrity articles by Peter Wetherill:
My Musical Performance With Ray Charles