“Eh, what’s up, doc?”
That unmistakable phrase is from one of animation’s most famous characters: Bugs Bunny. Since his official debut in the short “A Wild Hare” (1940), Bugs Bunny has appeared in countless cartoons from the golden age of animation and beyond.
I grew up watching Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons on local television channels during the weekdays, on Saturday mornings, and in prime-time specials. While my favourite characters are Road Runner and Pepé Le Pew, Bugs Bunny does make my top 5.
Starting in 1947, the Bugs Bunny character also appeared in books, toys, comics, and — my favourite — vinyl records under the Capitol label. Those records featured the “Bozo (the Clown) Approved” graphic design on the covers. These are the records starring Bugs Bunny that are currently in my collection (in no particular order):
Bugs Bunny Songfest (Golden)
Golden Records released this LP in 1961, a compilation of the Little Golden 78s. Here, Gilbert Mack and Dave Barry voiced Bugs and several other Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies characters, depending on the tracks, on Side 1. Side 2 is a set of the characters wishing the listeners a happy birthday – one for each month – all voiced by Mel Blanc.
Bugs Bunny and his Friends (Capitol)
From 1960, a 12” LP compilation of six stories culled from the read-along 78s released in the 1940s. The stories feature the voices of Blanc, assisted by Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd), and June Foray.
Bugs Bunny Goes to the Dentist (Kid Stuff)
Originally published by Golden Press in 1978 (then as a 7” LP read-along in 1984), the story is ideal for easing young readers’ (and listeners’) fears of visiting the dentist. An unknown actor voices Bugs, with a synth keyboard as background music, as was the custom of the earlier Kid Stuff book and record titles.
The New Adventures of Bugs Bunny (Peter Pan)
From 1973, this is the first of three albums, with Mel Blanc voicing the characters in four stories (backed by a synth keyboard for music).
4 More Adventures of Bugs Bunny (Peter Pan)
From 1974 – Blanc is back with other stories with the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies characters, again with the synth-keyboard background.
Holly Daze (Peter Pan)
Also from 1974, Bugs Bunny and friends appear in 4 musical Christmas adventures, this time with a small-scale orchestra playing a rendition of Merrily We Roll Along and three original songs penned by Herb Davidson and Charlotte Sanders. The LP was reissued four years later as Christmas with Bugs Bunny and Friends.
Peter Pan then recycled the following, culled from two of the three albums:
Bugs Bunny: 3 Funny Stories
From 1975, this album comprises a 12” LP with a 16-page illustrated book containing three stories: Getting the Bugs Out (which has Bugs fixing Porky and Petunia’s TV set), Moon Bunny (Bugs goes to the moon and back), and Maestro Bugs (Bugs disrupting Elmer conducting an orchestra).
Bugs Bunny: Get That Pet
Released in 1972, this 7” 45 read-along also features Sylvester, Tweety, and Granny. Granny is tired of Sylvester and Tweety’s chasing antics, so she gets a new pet — Bugs. Now, the pair schemes to get rid of him.
Bugs becomes the first bunny astronaut to land on the moon and returns to tell everyone about it. Released as a 7” LP in 1976.
Elmer is conducting an orchestra and Bugs decides to join in on the fun — in his own way, naturally. Released as a 7” 45 in 1973.
There are dozens more titles out there, but these are what I have for the time being — and I enjoy playing every one of them.
My advice to others who are looking to collect records like these is simply: go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you you’re weird or strange for doing so (although I constantly have to tell myself that). The records I reference here are fairly common and easy to find; they have been in print for a good couple of decades. Thankfully, one can find mint copies — i.e. unopened. The tricky part is trying to locate the first prints, especially unopened copies. But they’re out there, I know.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I see a particular rabbit putting on a looney record on the turntable. Happy Bugs Bunny Day!