Last time I wrote about being a little girl and watching Saturday Morning Cartoons, which were usually Looney Tunes, and since then I have found myself wondering about the history of Looney Tunes. For example, when, where, and how did the animated series of cartoons originate? So, given inquiring minds want to know, I conducted a bit of research, courtesy of Google, and this week I thought I would share what I learned with all you cartoon fans.
First, I learned that Warner Brothers couldn’t help but notice the success of Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse cartoons, so propelled by (and perhaps envious of) that success, “Warner contracted with Leon Schlesinger to produce an animated short that would incorporate music from the studio’s vast recording library (Britannica).” Oh, and by the way, I also learned that the name Looney Tunes is actually a parody of Walt Disney’s musical cartoon series Silly Symphonies.
“Schlesinger,” according to Britannica, “subcontracted the work to animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, who were using the then novel innovation of synchronized sound to create animated talkies. Their first animated film for Schlesinger, Sinkin’ in the Bathtub (1930), featured Bosko, a wide-eyed character that bore an uncanny resemblance to Otto Messmer’s Felix the Cat. The cartoon concluded with Bosko addressing the audience with a phrase that would become a Looney Tunes trademark: “That’s all, folks!’” Pleased with the short’s success, Warner Brothers then ordered more shorts to be produced, and the Harman-Ising studio added a second series of animated films under the banner Merrie Melodies, with Melodies becoming the main showcase for the Warner’s music collection.
Then things really began to take off, according to toonzone.net, when Warner hired directors Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, along with probably the greatest of all voice actors, Mel Blanc, and also greatly increased its roster of cartoon characters by adding such unforgettable personalities as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, and the Tasmanian Devil. The result was to make Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies the most popular animated series in movie theaters across the country, even more popular that the cartoons produced by Disney, MGM, Terrytoons, Walter Lantz Productions, or Fleischer Studios.
According to Warnerbros.com, Looney Tunes, alongside Merrie Melodies, was produced by Warner from 1930 to 1969, an era many cartoon buffs and film scholars alike consider “The Golden Age of American Animation.” Moreover, since its inception Looney Tunes has become a worldwide media franchise that includes television series, feature films, comic books, music albums, video games, and amusement park rides. Many of the characters also have made and continue to make cameo appearances in various other television shows and movies, as well as in advertisements.
Finally, I wasn’t in the least surprised to learn that the most popular Looney Tunes character is Bugs Bunny. “Bugs”, in fact, is a cultural icon and has appeared in more films than any other cartoon character in history, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
And that’s it for what I learned about Looney Tunes in my romp through cyberspace, so, until next time, “That’s all folks!”
Guinness Book of World Records (2015) Most Portrayed Character in Film.
“Looney Tunes, the Early Years” (2011) Retrieved from http://www.toonzone.net/early-years/
Ray, M. (2015) Looney Tunes Cartoon Series. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/Looney-Tunes
“Warner Bros. Animation” (2014) Retrieved from http://www.warnerbros.com/studio/divisions/television/warner-bros-animation