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Elmer J. Fudd is a fictional cartoon character and one of the most famous Looney Tunes characters, and is considered by many to be the archenemy of Bugs Bunny. He has one of the more disputed origins in the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon (second only to Bugs himself). His aim is to hunt Bugs, but he usually ends up seriously injuring himself and other antagonizing characters. He has a speech sound disorder that makes his tongue slur. This usually results in him replacing his Rs with Ws, so "Watch the road, Rabbit," is replaced with "Watch the woad, wabbit!" Elmer's signature catchphrase is, "Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits", as well as his trademark laughter, "huh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh".

Egghead

In 1937, Tex Avery introduced a new character in his cartoon short Egghead Rides Again. Egghead initially was depicted as having a bulbous nose, funny/eccentric clothing, a voice like Joe Penner, and an egg-shaped head (thus the moniker "Egghead"). Many cartoon historians believe that Egghead evolved into Elmer over a period of a couple of years. However, animation historian Michael Barrier asserts "The Egghead-Elmer story is actually a little messy, my sense being that most of the people involved, whether they were making the films or publicizing them, not only had trouble telling the characters apart but had no idea why they should bother trying." Egghead made his second appearance in 1937's Little Red Walking Hood and then in 1938 teamed with Warner Bros.' newest cartoon star Daffy Duck in Daffy Duck and Egghead. In 1938 Egghead continued to make appearances in the Warner cartoons, including The Isle of Pingo Pongo, and A-Lad-In Bagdad. In A Feud There Was (1938) Egghead made his entrance riding a motorscooter with the words "Elmer Fudd, Peacemaker" displayed on the side, the first onscreen use of that name. Egghead shifts from having a Moe Howard haircut to being bald and wearing a brown derby, a baggy suit, and a high-collared shirt. His voice, laugh, and mannerisms are very much like those of Joe Penner. In the same period, a Warner's publicity sheet for Cinderella Meets Fella refers to Elmer as Egghead's brother, which seems to argue that at least internally at the studio the characters were always viewed as distinct, even as Fudd emerged and Egghead receded into obscurity. Egghead himself returned decades later in the compilation film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. More recently, he also made a cameo appearance at the end of Looney Tunes: Back in Action and was also given in his own story, which starred him alongside Pete Puma, in the Looney Tunes comic book.

Egghead has the distinction of being the very first recurring character created for Leon Schlesinger's Merrie Melodies series (to be followed by such characters as Sniffles, Inki, and even Bugs Bunny), which had previously contained only one-shot characters, although during the Harman-Ising era, Foxy, Goopy Geer, and Piggy each appeared in a few Merrie Melodies.

In the 1939 cartoon Dangerous Dan McFoo, a new voice actor Arthur Q. Bryan was hired to provide the voice of the hero dog-character and it was in this cartoon that the popular "milk-sop" voice of Elmer Fudd was created. Elmer Fudd has since been the chief antagonistic force in the majority of the Bugs Bunny cartoons, initiating one of the most famous rivalries in the history of American cinema.

Elmer emerges

In 1940, Egghead/Elmer's appearance was refined giving him a chin and a less bulbous nose (although still wearing Egghead's clothing) and Arthur Q. Bryan's "Dan McFoo" voice in what most people consider Elmer Fudd's first true appearance: a Chuck Jones short entitled Elmer's Candid Camera. The Bugs Bunny prototype drives Elmer insane. Later that year, he appeared in Friz Freleng's Confederate Honey (where he's called Ned Cutler), The Hardship of Miles Standish and Jones' Good Night Elmer where his voice and Egghead-like appearance were still the same. Jones would use this Elmer one more time, in 1941's Elmer's Pet Rabbit. The other title character here is labelled as Bugs Bunny, but is also identical to his counterpart in Camera. In the interim, the two starred in A Wild Hare. Bugs appears with a carrot, New York accent, and "What's Up, Doc?" catchphrase all in place for the first time, although the voice and physique are as yet somewhat off. Elmer has a better voice, a trimmer figure and his familiar hunting clothes. He is much more recognizable as the Elmer Fudd of later cartoons than Bugs is here. It is interesting to note that in his first appearances, Elmer actually "wikes wabbits", either attempting to take photos of Bugs, or adopting Bugs as his pet. The rascally rabbit has the poor Fudd so perplexed that there is little wonder as to why Elmer would become a hunter and in some cases actually proclaim, "I hate wittle gway wabbits!" after pumping buckshot down a rabbit hole...

Elmer's role in these two films, that of would-be hunter, dupe and foil for Bugs, would remain his main role forever after, and although Bugs Bunny was called upon to outwit many more worthy opponents, Elmer somehow remained Bugs' classic nemesis, despite (or because of) his legendary gullibility, small size, short temper, and shorter attention span. Somehow knowing not only that Elmer would lose, but knowing how he would lose, made the confrontation, counter-intuitively, more delicious. Despite being the antagonist, Elmer lacked the malice of a true villain.

Elmer was usually cast as a hapless big-game hunter, armed with a double-barreled shotgun and creeping through the woods "hunting wabbits." In a few cartoons, though, he assumed a completely different persona — a wealthy industrialist type, occupying a luxurious penthouse, or, in one episode involving a role reversal, a sanitarium — which Bugs would of course somehow find his way into. In Dog Gone People, he had an ordinary office job working for demanding boss "Mister Cwabtwee". In another cartoon he appeared to work in an office and had a dog he called "Wover Boy", who he took hunting, though Bugs did not appear.

Several episodes featured Elmer differently. One (What's Up, Doc?, 1950) has Bugs Bunny relating his life story to a biographer, and recalling a time which was a downturn for the movie business. Elmer Fudd is a well-known entertainer who, looking for a new partner for his act, sees Bugs Bunny (after passing caricatures of many other famous 1940s actors who, like Bugs, are also out of work). Elmer and Bugs do a one-joke act cross-country, with Bugs dressed like a pinhead, and when he does not know the answer to a joke, Elmer gives it and hits him with a pie in the face. Bugs begins to tire of this gag and pulls a surprise on Fudd, answering the joke correctly and bopping Elmer with a mallet, which prompts the man to point his rifle at Bugs. The bunny asks nervously: "Eh, what's up doc?", which results in a huge round of applause from the audience. Bugs tells Elmer they may be on to something. According to this account, the common Elmer-as-hunter episodes are entirely staged.

One episode where Bugs "lost" in the hunting was Hare Brush (1956). Here, Elmer has been committed to an insane asylum because he believes he is a rabbit. Bugs Bunny enters Fudd's room and Elmer bribes him with carrots, then leaves the way the real rabbit entered. Bugs acts surprisingly (for him) naïve, assuming Elmer just wanted to go outside for a while. Elmer's psychiatrist arrives, and thinking Fudd's delusion has affected his appearance, drugs Bugs and conditions him into believing that he is Elmer Fudd ("I am Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht") after which Bugs starts wearing hunting clothes and acting like Elmer, hunting the rabbit-costumed Fudd, who is in turn acting like Bugs. Their hunt is cut short when Bugs is arrested, as Elmer Fudd is wanted for tax evasion. After Bugs is hauled away, Fudd breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience, "I may be a scwewy wabbit, but I'm not going to Alcatwazmarker."

Elmer Fudd has occasionally appeared in other costumes, notably as Cupid. He tries to convince Bugs about love, but Bugs is reluctant, thinking to himself "Don't you look like some guy who's always after me?" and pictures the Elmer in hunter's clothes. The Cupid Elmer plots to get even with Bugs, using his love arrows to make Bugs fall in love with an artificial rabbit at a dog track. Elmer also appeared in this form opposite Daffy Duck in The Stupid Cupid (1944).

The Bugs/Elmer partnership was so familiar to audiences that in a late 1950s cartoon, Bugs' Bonnets, a character study is made of what happens to the relationship between the two when they each accidentally don a different selection of hats (Native American Wig, Pilgrim Hat, Military Helmets, Bridal Veil and Top Hat, to name a few). The result is comic mayhem; a steady game of one-upmanship that ultimately leads to matrimony!

Fat Elmer

For a short time in the 1941–1942 season, Elmer's appearance was modified again, for five cartoons: Wabbit Twouble; The Wacky Wabbit; The Wabbit Who Came to Supper; Any Bonds Today?; and Fresh Hare. He became a heavy-set, beer-bellied character, patterned after Arthur Q. Bryan's real-life appearance, and still chasing Bugs (or vice versa). However, audiences did not accept a fat Fudd, so ultimately the slimmer version (which was only fat in the head, literally and figuratively) returned for good.

This time period also saw a temporary change in Elmer's relationship with Bugs Bunny. Instead of being the hunter, Elmer was the victim of unprovoked pestering by Bugs. In Wabbit Twouble, Bugs plays a number of gags on Elmer, advising the audience, "I do dis kind o' stuff to him all t'wough da picture!" (A line somewhat ironically would later be said by the Tortoise as he and his friends cheat Bugs out of winning a race). Another episode, The Wacky Wabbit, finds Elmer focused on prospecting for gold which would be used to fund the World War II effort. Elmer sings a variation of the old prospector's tune "Oh! Susanna" made just for this cartoon (complete with the phrase "V for Victory"), with Bugs joining in just before starting to hassle Elmer.

Elmer's peak

The best known Elmer Fudd cartoons include Chuck Jones' masterpiece What's Opera, Doc? (one of the few times Fudd bested Bugs, though he felt bad about it), the Rossini parody Rabbit of Seville, and the "Hunting Trilogy" of "Rabbit Season/Duck Season" shorts (Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!) with Fudd himself, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck.

He nearly always misplaced the letters R and L with W (a trait that also characterized Tweety Bird) when he would talk in his slightly raspy voice. This trait was prevalent in the Elmer's Candid Camera and Elmer's Pet Rabbit cartoons, where the writers would give him exaggerated lines such as, "My, that weawwy was a dewicious weg of wamb." to further exaggerate his qualities as a harmless nebbish. That characteristic seemed to fit his somewhat timid and childlike persona. And it worked. The writers often gave him lines filled with those letters, such as doing Shakespeare's Romeo as "What wight thwough yonduh window bweaks!" or Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries as "Kiww the wabbit, kiww the wabbit, kiww the wabbit...!" or "The Beautifuw Bwue Danube, by Johann Stwauss", or the name of actress "Owivia deHaviwwand". Elmer's speech impedinent is so well known that Google allows the user to change the search engine language to "Elmer Fudd"

Part of the joke is that Elmer is presumably incapable of pronouncing his own first name correctly. Occasionally Elmer would properly pronounce an r or l sound, depending on whether or not it was vital for the audience to understand what the word was. (For example, in 1944's The Old Grey Hare, he clearly pronounces the r in the word "picture".)

Later appearances

Elmer Fudd made appearances in several television specials in the 1970s and 1980s, and some cameo roles in two of the Looney Tunes feature-film compilations.

In the 1988 movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Elmer Fudd makes a cameo in a brief head-shot during the final scene.

Elmer would also appear frequently on the animated series Tiny Toon Adventures as a teacher at Acme Looniversity, where he was the idol and favorite teacher of Elmyra Duff, the slightly deranged animal lover who resembles Elmer both in basic head design and lack of intellect.

Elmer also made cameos on Animaniacs, one in Turkey Jerky, another in the Pinky and the Brain short, Don't Tread on Us.

Elmer also had a guest starring appearance on Histeria! in the episode "The Teddy Roosevelt Show", in a sketch where he portrayed Gutzon Borglum. This sketch depicts Elmer/Gutzon's construction of Mount Rushmoremarker, accompanied by Borglum's son Lincoln, portrayed by Loud Kiddington. Elmer made another appearance on Histeria!, this time in his traditional role, during a sketch where the Bald Eagle trades places with the Turkeymarker during Thanksgiving weekend, featured in the episode "Americana".

Fudd also appeared on The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries in the first season episode A Ticket to Crime as detective Sam Fudd; at the end he took off his clothes and turned into Elmer.

Elmer appears as part of the TuneSquad team in Space Jam.

Elmer took on a more villainous role in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, in which he is a secret agent for the Acme Corporation. In his scene, Elmer chases Bugs and Daffy through the paintings in the Louvremarker museum, taking on the different art styles as they do so. At the end, Elmer forgets to change back to his normal style after jumping out of the pointillism painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, allowing Bugs to easily disintegrate Elmer by blowing a fan at him.

An even more villainous Elmer appeared in two episodes of Duck Dodgers as The Mother Fudd, an alien who would spread a disease that caused all affected by it to stand around laughing like Elmer (a parody of the Flood in Halo and the Borg in Star Trek).

In Loonatics Unleashed, his descendant, Electro J. Fudd, tried to prove himself the universe's greatest hunter by capturing Ace Bunny, but settled for Danger Duck instead. Elmer himself also makes an appearance in the form of a photo which shows he presumably died at the hands of a giant squirrel.

The voice of Elmer Fudd

The original voice of Elmer Fudd, Arthur Q.
Bryan.
Fudd was originally voiced by radio actor Arthur Q. Bryan, but twice in Bryan's lifetime the voice was provided by the versatile Mel Blanc: once, in The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950), only a single line was needed, and bringing in Bryan was not cost effective; in What's Opera, Doc, Elmer's furious scream "SMOG!" was dubbed by Mel Blanc, although Bryan had voiced the rest of the part. Later, during the musician's union strike of 1958, another artist did the voice for Elmer's co-starring appearance in Pre-Hysterical Hare. There is no documented reason for Bryan's absence, leaving some fans to speculate that he refused to cross the picket lines. In 1959, Bryan died aged 60, and Hal Smith was selected to replace him as Elmer, but after just two cartoons were recorded by the new actor, and another was made in which Fudd has no lines and therefore no voice, the character was soon retired. Although in more recent years other voice actors have alternated as Elmer's voice, Bryan's characterization remains the definitive one. He was never credited onscreen, because Blanc had a clause in his contract that required him to receive a screen credit and, perhaps inadvertently, denied the same to other voice performers. Blanc would take on the role regularly in the 1970s and 1980s, supplying Elmer's voice for new footage in compilation feature films and similar TV specials, as well as some all-new specials. He admitted in his autobiography that he found the voice difficult to get "right", never quite making it his own. In Speechless, the famous lithograph issued following Blanc's death, Elmer is not shown among the characters bowing their heads in tribute to Blanc. Elmer has also been voiced by Daws Butler, Greg Burson, Jeff Bergman, Billy West, Tom Kenny, Quinton Flynn, and others over the years.

Other voice actors

Beside Arthur Q. Bryan, other actors have voiced Elmer:

Impact on popular culture

The search engine Google has been translated into many languages, some of them for sheer comedic purposes. One of the novelty languages is "Elmer Fudd."

See also



References

  1. Elmer Fudd
  2. Summer Slumber


External links




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