TV actor and comedian George Lopez has been tapped to provide the voice for the beloved Speedy Gonzales in a new big screen movie adaptation of the beloved Warner Brothers 'Looney Tunes' franchise.
Now I understand that big names bring big bucks to the box office, but this really the first time in my mind that a famous Looney Tunes character is being re-voiced by a star instead of a trained voice actor who can mimic the immortal voice of the late Mel Blanc. Voice actor Billy West, an outspoken critic of celebrity voice over characters, once described it in an earlier interview I did with him for Arriviste Press magazine as "most artless, bloodless, Godless idea I've ever heard."
When people talk about the greatest voice actors in cartoons, Mel Blanc is always at the top of the list, and for good reason: he solely provided the voice of the majority of the Looney Tunes characters, save for Elmer Fudd, who was voiced by Arthur Q. Bryan. His first real contribution was providing the voice of Porky Pig, a gig originally given to an actor named Joe Dougherty whose genuine stutter made it impossible for him to control the character's voice.
Blanc also worked in radio before and during his time at Warner Bros., working with such legends as Jack Benny, Abbot and Costello, and Burns and Allen. It was radio that helped him to create solid but unseen characters, a talent that carried over beautifully into animation.
After the jump is a clip from the Tonight Show featuring the man himself being interviewed by Johnny Carson. It's rather bittersweet to see these two great comedic minds on screen together, and to think of what the world of entertainment lost when they each passed away.
Bugs Bunny is by far the most unflappable character in cartoons, an insouciant thorn in the side of anyone who seeks to do him harm, and the only one able to maintain his cool while everyone around him is going insane. I've come up with five of my favorite Bugs Bunny shorts of all time, and it wasn't easy. I managed to pare the list from eleven down to seven, and finally, down to five. Here they are:
What's Opera, Doc? (1957): "Spear and magic helmet?" A later entry into the Looney Tunes library, this has come to be recognized as one of the best animated shorts of all time. The basic plot of Elmer hunting Bugs and Bugs thwarting his every attempt is still evident here, but it's amplified by the great musical score, Maurice Noble's amazing background art, and a tragic love story that's actually rather touching in its own unbalanced way. I also love this exchange between Elmer (as Siegfried) and Bugs (disguised as Siegfried's love interest, Valkyrie Brunhilde):
Elmer: [singing] Oh Brunhilde , you're so lovely.
Bugs: [singing] Yes I know it, I can't help it.
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