Bugs Bunny officially turns 75 today. The snickering rabbit made his first credited appearance in Tex Avery's 1940 animated short “A Wild Hare,” and he remains a cultural icon three quarters of a century later. Here's why he could still use more respect.
1. He's an Academy Award winner.
Not only was Bugs Oscar-nominated for his official debut in “A Wild Hare,” but he picked up an Academy Award for 1958's “Knighty Knight Bugs” in the category of Best Cartoon Short Subject. Look, he even received it from Tony Curtis and his first wife (of six) Janet Leigh.
2. He stars in one of the great sports video games of the '90s.
The Super Nintendo gave us plenty of classic sports games, including John Madden's football cartridges and the yearly NBA/NHL/MLB releases. “Looney Tunes B-Ball,” meanwhile, was one of the few fantastic video games not associated with a major sports organization. Marvin the Martian's capacity for lay-ups will stun you.
3. He gave us the most staggering moment of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”
Bugs Bunny's first screen appearance alongside Mickey Mouse gave “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” its most awe-worthy moment. Their mid-air badinage is a delight. I'm blocking out Christopher Lloyd's horrifying climactic work because it still scares the hell out of me.
4. He's responsible for one of the top ten highest-selling soundtracks of the '90s.
“Space Jam,” the Michael Jordan-assisted Bugs Bunny comedy from '96, is the sixth highest-selling movie soundtrack of that decade. It's only behind “The Bodyguard,” “Titanic,” “The Lion King,” “City of Angels,” and “Waiting to Exhale.” Thanks to the ethereal tones of R. Kelly for the help on that one.
5. He's appeared in more films than any other cartoon character.
No other cartoon character has hit the silver screen more times than Bugs, and furthermore he's the ninth-most portrayed character in all of film. Garfield weeps.
6. Billy Crystal already made the perfect joke about how old he is – 25 years ago.
“Bugs Bunny turned 50. He looks good. He had minor surgery too, did you know that? He had his prostate erased.” And that was back in '90. No respect!
7. He's had his catchphrase down since his very first official appearance.
Kind of shocking that Bugs Bunny's most famous catchphrase has been with us since his official debut in “A Wild Hare.”
8. His style inspired the greatest screwball comedy of the 1970s.
Barbra Streisand owes her incredible zeal and timing in 1972's “What's Up, Doc?” to Bugs. Note her carrot-chomping and wiseacre dialogue. Pure Bugs from start to finish.