Whether you've heard the name Mel Blanc, or whether you haven't, one thing is for sure, you would've definitely heard his voice.
Mel wasn't just a pioneer of the voice acting industry – he was much more than that. Dubbed the "man of 1000 voices," he was responsible for voicing an unbelievable range of Looney Tunes Cartoons. And by that, I mean he more than likely voiced ALL of your favorite characters, not just one.
Bugs Bunny is probably his most illustrious character. However, quite incredibly, he also voiced Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety AND Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, the Tasmanian Devil and much, much more. Just check out the video below for a small sample.
When a doctor once examined his throat, it was discovered he was born with rare, thick vocal chords which gave him the flexibility to cover the high pitched whines to deep, bellowing exclamations. And I'm sure, there are many people out there thankful that such a genetic gift fell to such a talented man.
By all accounts, he was a charming and humble, a man who never lost sight of where he was, never got carried away and appreciated the joy his creations brought to millions.
What is most intriguing about Mel Blanc is that his life was as interesting away from the recording booth as it was within it. He suffered his fair share of hardship, without a doubt, but always maintained a zest for his career.
Such were his levels of dedication, the Looney Tunes were a part of him; the deep rooted, subconscious embedding of the characters he vocalized even saved his life (see number 7).
Below are 12 looney facts about the man of 1,000 voices:
1. He was allergic to carrots
I know, right, the irony of the voice behind Bugs Bunny being allergic to carrots is almost too good to be true. Well, unfortunately, it isn't true at all.
Rather than being allergic to carrots, as has been stated (and circulated widely on the Internet), Mel spat them out because he didn't enjoy the taste. I mean, do you blame him?
To get the authentic crunching sound, it was necessary from him to chew on the carrots, despite his distaste. However, to avoid the relentless munching having an impact on the quality of his vocal work, he used to do the crunching sounds at the end of a session, and spit the carrot back into a spittoon.
2. He was asked to name his gift for his life's work, and he asked for...
A Ford Edsel. I suppose you could say this is testament to his humbleness, considering Warner Bros. told him whatever he could ask for, he'd get. And for good reason – he'd been responsible for bringing some of their most well known creations to life for decades.
Before you get carried away by the vintage nostalgia tainting your view, the Edsel was far from a prime motor of the day. In fact, sales were so bad, the name has now become synonymous with "commercial failure."
3. He was a heavy smoker, and started young
Although his career centered around the use of his voice, Mel was a heavy smoker. In fact, he started smoking at the tender age of 9.
He gave up when he was 77 due to health problems, four years before his death.
4. He compromised money for recognition
In essence, despite the worth of the work they provided, when Blanc started his career, voice actors were neglected within the industry. During those early days, they didn't even get a mention in cartoon credits!
However, Mel was the catalyst to change this. When Warner Bros. studio boss Leon Schlesinger turned Blanc down for a raise (harshly, may I add) he made a compromise: in exchange for staying on the same wage, he got them to agree to add his name in the end credits.
This paved the way for voice actors getting the recognition they deserve, as well as propelling Blanc to fame.
5. A bullying school teacher made him change his name
His original name was Mel Blank. However, due to a teacher bullying him about his name (a teacher!) he changed the K for a C.
I think it's fair to say Mel got the last laugh!
6. He nearly died in a serious car accident
In 1962, he was involved in a serious collision while on his way to record a commercial.
His injuries were so severe, he was hospitalized and entered a coma.
7. Bugs Bunny literally saved his life
His family were at his bedside for over two weeks while Mel was unconscious. Doctors at the hospital had tried different ways of waking him, but he wasn't responding, and things were looking bleak.
One doctor, who was a Looney Tunes fan, decided an innovative approach; he walked into the room and asked:
"Bugs? Bugs Bunny? Are you there?"
Family, friends and even other doctors looked bemused. Amazingly, this stirred up something in Mel and, to what is probably one of the best anecdotes ever, he responded, in Bugs's voice:
"What's up, Doc?"
8. When regaining consciousness, he communicated as his characters
The same doctor also tried different characters, and asked whether Tweety was there. Again, in character, Mel responded:
“I tot I taw a puddy tat."
9. He continued recording despite being in full body cast
Almost dying, being in a coma for two weeks, and being mummified in a full body cast didn't stop the ever professional from doing his work.
Due to pressing production deadlines, some of the voice recordings were even done at the hospital. The entire Flintstones cast visited him in his hospital bed, and set up a makeshift studio, full with recording equipment, and acted out the episodes in the hospital.
10. His headstone contains Porky Pig's famous quote - "That's All Folks"
Blanc died in 1989, aged 81. He'd stipulated in his will that he'd like the inscription on his headstone, and his wish was granted, along with his nickname "the man of 1,000 voices."
11. He passed on his talent to his son, too
When his son Noel was young, Mel used to teach him the skill of voice acting. And it must've paid off – Noel even voiced some of his famous characters on certain episodes.
He's pictured here in front of a mural of his father.
12. His last voice work ever was for the 'Jetsons Movie' (1990)
This was released posthumously, a year after Mel died. He'd already recorded all of his sessions for Mr. Spacely, and the movie was dedicated to him.
Source: Behind the Voice Actors