Mel Blanc, circa 1959
|Born||Melvin Jerome Blank
May 30, 1908
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||July 10, 1989
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart disease
|Other names||"The Man of 1000 Voices"|
|Alma mater||Lincoln High School|
|Known for||Looney Tunes
The Jack Benny Program
(1933–89; his death)
Melvin Jerome "Mel" Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. as the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, the Tasmanian Devil and many of the other characters from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies theatrical cartoons, during the "Golden age of American animation". He later worked for Hanna-Barbera's television cartoons, most notably as the voices of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely in The Jetsons. Blanc was also a regular performer on The Jack Benny Program, in both its radio and television formats. Having earned the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Voices", Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry. Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.
Early life 
Blanc was born Melvin Jerome Blank in San Francisco, California, to Jewish parents Frederick and Eva Blank. The younger of two children, he grew up in the neighborhood of Western Addition in San Francisco, and later in Portland, Oregon, where he attended Lincoln High School. Growing up, he had a fondness for voices and dialect, which he began voicing at the age of ten. He claimed that when he was sixteen, he changed the spelling from "Blank" to "Blanc" because a teacher told him that he would amount to nothing and be, like his name, a "blank". Blanc joined The Order of DeMolay as a young man, and was eventually inducted into its Hall of Fame. He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and split his time between leading an orchestra, becoming the youngest conductor in the country at the age of 17, and performing shtick in vaudeville shows around Washington, Oregon, and northern California.
Radio work 
Blanc began his radio career in 1927 as a voice actor on the KGW program The Hoot Owls, where his ability to provide voices for multiple characters first attracted attention. He moved to Los Angeles in 1932, where he met Estelle Rosenbaum, whom he married a year later, before returning to Portland. He moved to KEX in 1933 to produce and co-host his Cobweb And Nuts show with his wife Estelle, which debuted on June 15. The program played Monday through Saturday from 11:00 pm to midnight, and by the time the show ended two years later, it appeared from 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm.
With his wife's encouragement, Blanc returned to Los Angeles and joined Warner Bros.-owned KFWB in Hollywood, California, in 1935. He joined The Johnny Murray Show, but the following year switched to CBS Radio and The Joe Penner Show. Blanc was a regular on the NBC Red Network show The Jack Benny Program in various roles, including voicing Benny's Maxwell automobile (in desperate need of a tune-up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, Benny's pet polar bear Carmichael, the tormented department store clerk, and the train announcer (see below). The first role came from an mishap when the recording of the automobile's sounds failed to play on cue, prompting Blanc to take the microphone and improvise the sounds himself. The audience reacted so positively that Benny decided to dispense with the recording altogether and have Blanc continue in that role.
One of Blanc's most memorable characters from Benny's radio (and later TV) programs was "Sy, the Little Mexican", who spoke one word at a time. The famous "Sí...Sy...sew...Sue" routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of Blanc and Benny.
By 1946, Blanc appeared on over 15 radio programs in supporting roles. His success on The Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS Radio Network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946, to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, as well as his young cousin Zookie.
Blanc also appeared on such other national radio programs as The Abbott and Costello Show, the Happy Postman on Burns and Allen, and as August Moon on Point Sublime. During World War II, he appeared as Private Sad Sack on various radio shows, most notably G.I. Journal. Blanc recorded a song titled "Big Bear Lake." For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.
Animation voice work during the Golden Age of Hollywood 
In March 1937, Mel Blanc joined Leon Schlesinger Productions, which made animated cartoons distributed by Warner Bros. After sound man Treg Brown was put in charge of cartoon voices, and Carl Stalling became music director, Brown introduced Blanc to animation directors Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, and Frank Tashlin, who loved his voices. The first cartoon Blanc worked on was Picador Porky as the voice of a drunken bull. He replaced Joe Dougherty as Porky Pig's voice in Porky's Duck Hunt, which marked the debut of Daffy Duck, also voiced by Blanc.
The character of Bugs Bunny ate carrots. To follow this sound with the animated voice, Blanc would bite into a carrot and then quickly spit into a spittoon. One oft-repeated story is that Blanc was allergic to carrots. However, Blanc denies any allergy.
Throughout his career, Blanc was well aware of his talents and protected the rights to them contractually and legally. He, and later his estate, did not hesitate to take civil action when those rights were violated. Voice actors usually got no screen credits at all, but Blanc was a notable exception; by 1944, his contract stipulated a credit reading "Voice characterization(s) by Mel Blanc." Blanc asked for and received this screen credit from studio boss Leon Schlesinger when Leon objected to giving Blanc a raise in pay.
Voice work for Hanna-Barbera and others 
In 1960, after the expiration of his exclusive contract with Warner Bros., although Blanc continued his voice work for Warner Bros., he also went to Hanna-Barbera and continued to voice various characters, his most famous being Barney Rubble from The Flintstones (whose dopey laugh is similar to Foghorn Leghorn's booming chuckle) and Mr. Spacely from The Jetsons (similar to Yosemite Sam, but not as raucous). His other notable voice roles for Hanna-Barbara included Dino the Dinosaur, Secret Squirrel, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, and voices for Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
Blanc also worked with Chuck Jones, who by this time was directing shorts with his own company Sib Tower 12 (later MGM Animation) doing vocal effects in the Tom and Jerry series from 1963 to 1967. As well, Blanc was the first voice of Toucan Sam in Froot Loops commercials.
Blanc reprised some of his Warner Bros. characters when the studio contracted to make new theatrical cartoons in the mid-to-late 1960s. For these, Blanc voiced Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales, the characters who received the most frequent use in these shorts (later, newly introduced characters such as Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse were voiced by Larry Storch). Blanc also continued to voice the Looney Tunes characters on the bridging sequences for The Bugs Bunny Show and in numerous animated advertisements.
Car accident and aftermath 
On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Hit head-on, Blanc suffered a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for three weeks, along with fractures of both legs and the pelvis. Blanc returned home from the UCLA Medical Center on March 17. On March 22, he filed a US$500,000 lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. His accident, one of 26 in the preceding two years at the intersection known as Dead Man's Curve, resulted in the city funding restructuring curves at the location.
Years later, Blanc revealed that during his recovery, his son Noel "ghosted" several Warner Brothers cartoons' voice tracks for him. At the time of the accident, Blanc was also serving as the voice of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones. His absence from the show would be relatively brief; Daws Butler provided the voice of Rubble for a few episodes, after which the show's producers set up recording equipment in Blanc's hospital room and later, at his house to allow him to work from his residence. Some of the recordings were made while he was in full-body cast while he lay flat on his back, with the other Flintstones co-stars gathered around him. He also returned to The Jack Benny Program to film the program's 1961 Christmas show, moving around via crutches and a wheelchair.
Later career 
In the 1970s, Blanc did a series of college lectures across the US. He would also collaborate on a special with the Boston-based Shriners Burns Institute called Ounce of Prevention, which became a 30-minute TV special.
After spending most of two seasons voicing the robot Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Blanc's last original character, in the early 1980s, was Heathcliff, who spoke a little like Bugs Bunny. Blanc continued to voice his famous characters in commercials and TV specials for most of the decade, although he increasingly left the "yelling" characters like Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn and The Tasmanian Devil to other voice actors, as performing these were too hard on his throat. One of his last recording sessions was for a new animated theatrical version of The Jetsons.
Blanc voiced most of his well known Looney Tunes characters in the 1988 live-action/animated comedy-mystery film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, saving Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn, who were voiced by Joe Alaskey. As the film was released by Disney, the company had to ask permission to use the Warner Bros. characters in the film. Blanc died a year after the film's release.
On May 19, 1989, Blanc was checked into the hospital by his family when they noticed that he had a bad cough. While there, Blanc was diagnosed with emphysema, a lung disease, and was originally expected to recover. While at the hospital, Blanc's health took a turn for the worst when he complained of chest pains and heart arrythmias, followed by constant vomiting and coughing up of blood. Doctors discovered that he had cardiovascular disease, a serious heart condition in which the arteries of the heart are narrowed due to plaque buildup. He died on July 10 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 81. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS" (the phrase was a trademark of the character Porky Pig, for whom Blanc provided the voice).
Blanc is regarded as the most prolific voice actor in the history of the industry. He was the first voice actor to get credit in the ending credits.
Blanc's death was considered a significant loss to the cartoon industry because of his skill, expressive range, and sheer volume of continuing characters he portrayed, which are currently taken up by several other voice talents. Indeed, as movie critic Leonard Maltin once pointed out, "It is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!"
After his death, Blanc's voice continued to be heard in newly released properties such as Woody's laugh in games such as Woody Woodpecker: Escape from Buzz Buzzard Park. In particular, a recording of his Dino the Dinosaur from the 1960s Flintstones series was used without a screen credit in the 1994 live-action theatrical film based upon the series. The credit was later added to the home release of the movie. Less problematic was the retention of older recordings of Blanc as Uncle Orville and a pet bird in the 1994 update of the Carousel of Progress attraction at Walt Disney World, despite cast changes in other roles.
Blanc trained his son Noel in the field of voice characterization. Although the younger Blanc has performed his father's characters (particularly Porky Pig) on some programs, he has chosen not to become a full-time voice artist.
Selected list of cartoon characters 
- Porky Pig (1937–1989, assumed from Joe Dougherty)
- The Maxwell (Jack Benny's car in "The Mouse that Jack Built")
- Daffy Duck (1937–1989)
- Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (vocal effects; shared with Eddie Collins)
- Bugs Bunny-like rabbit/Happy Rabbit (1938–1940)
- Papa Panda from the Andy Panda series
- Bugs Bunny (1940–1989)
- Woody Woodpecker (1940–1941)
- Slapsie Maxie Rosenbull (1940)
- Hiawatha (1941)
- Cecil Turtle (1941–1947)
- Tweety Bird (1942–1989)
- Private Snafu, numerous World War II related cartoons (1943-1946)
- Yosemite Sam (1945–1987)
- Pepé Le Pew (1945–1989)
- Penelope Pussycat Though typically a non-speaker, her "meows" and "purrs" were most often provided by Mel Blanc using a feminine voice.
- Sylvester (1945–1989) aka Thomas (1947) in some films.
- Foghorn Leghorn (1946–1987)
- The Barnyard Dawg (1946–1989)
- Henery Hawk (1946–1989)
- Charlie Dog (1947)
- Grover Groundhog (1947, singing voice only in "One Meat Brawl")
- Mac (of Mac & Tosh) (1947)
- K-9 (1948) (sidekick to Marvin the Martian)
- Marvin the Martian (1948–1989)
- Sylvester J. Pussycat, Jr. Mel also plays Sylvester's son Sylvester Junior when the young cat was introduced (1949)
- Beaky Buzzard (1950)
- Curt Martin (1950-1 episode Hillbilly Hare)
- The Fox and Crow (voiced both characters only for the 1941 debut short "Fox and Grapes" until Frank Grahmn took the roles of the fox and crow then Paul Frees became the crow while Grahmn was still the fox till the last short in 1950)
- Dinah from Alice in Wonderland (1951)
- Elmer Fudd (substitute)
- Wile E. Coyote (silent until 1952, first spoke in the short "Operation: Rabbit")
- Speedy Gonzales (1953–1989)
- Rocky and Mugsy (Bugs and Thugs 1954)
- The Tasmanian Devil (1954–1989) aka Taz
- Ed (Jack Benny's underground valet guard in "The Mouse that Jack Built", since Joseph Kearns was unavailable to reprise his role as Ed the Vault Guard in that cartoon)
- Blacque Jacque Shellacque (1959–1962)
- Barney Rubble (1960–1989)
- Dino (1960–1989) (Fred Flintstone's pet.)
- Cosmo G. Spacely (The Jetsons, 1962–1989)
- Hardy Har Har (1962–1964)
- Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse (1963–1967)
- Sneezly Seal (1964–1967)
- Secret Squirrel (1965–1966)
- Frito Bandito (1967–1971)
- Bubba McCoy from "Where's Huddles?"
- Chugga-Boom/Yak Yak/The Bully Brothers also from "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop"
- Speed Buggy (1973)
- Tucker the Mouse from "The Cricket in Times Square" (1973) and two sequels
- Captain Caveman (1977)
- Twiki from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979–1981)
- Heathcliff (1980, appeared in syndication from 1984–1988)
- Scientist from SuperTed and the stolen rocket (1982)
- Gideon from Pinocchio (hiccups)
- Figaro from Pinocchio(meows)
- Bertie Mouse (of Hubie and Bertie)
- Marc Antony
- Moo the Cow in Berkeley Farms Radio Ads. "Farms in Berkeley....Moooo"
- Officer Short Shrift, several Lethargians, three out of five of the royal palace guards, The Word Speller, The Dodecahedron, and The Demon of Insincerity from The Phantom Tollbooth (1969)
- Go Go Gomez, Flat Top, B.B. Eyes, additional voices from The Dick Tracy Show
- Tycoon Magoo
- Worcestershire (Tycoon Magoo's butler)
|Original Air Date||Program||Episode||Role|
|1936-1956||The Jack Benny Program||Sy
Polly the Parrot
Jack Benny's Maxwell
|1937||The Joe Penner Show||Additional voices|
|1939-1943||Fibber McGee and Molly||Hiccuping Man|
|1941-1943||The Great Gildersleeve||Floyd Munson|
|1942||The Abbott and Costello Show||"Guest Merle Oberon"||Mel Blanc|
|1943-1946||The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show||The Happy Postman|
|1946||The Mel Blanc Show||Made for G.I. Army||Mel Blanc
Dr. Christopher Crab
|1950-1965||The Jack Benny Program||Professor LeBlanc
Department Store Clerk
Gas Station Man
|1960-1966||The Flintstones||Barney Rubble
|1960-1989||The Bugs Bunny Show||Bugs Bunny
Wile E. Coyote
|1962-1963||The Jetsons||Cosmo Spacely
|1962-1963||Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har||Hardy Har-Har
|1964||The Beverly Hillbillies||Dick Burton||"Granny Learns To Drive", Live-Action|
|1964-1965||Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-A-Long||Droop-A-Long
|1967-1968||The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show||Secret Squirrel|
|1969-1971||The Perils of Penelope Pitstop||Yak Yak
The Bully Brothers
|1971-1973||The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show||Barney Rubble
|1972-1973||The New Scooby-Doo Movies||Additional voices|
|1977-1978||Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics||Speed Buggy
|1979-1981||Buck Rogers in the 25th Century||Twiki (voice)||Live-Action|
|1980||3-2-1 Contact||Twiki||One episode|
|1984-1988||Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats||Heathcliff|
|1940-1964||Bugs Bunny theatrical shorts||Bugs Bunny
|1937-1965||Porky Pig theatrical shorts||Porky Pig
|1938-1968||Daffy Duck theatrical shorts||Daffy Duck
Marvin the Martian
|1945-1969||Sylvester theatrical shorts||Sylvester
|1959-1965||Loopy De Loop||Additional characters|
|1964||Hey There, It's Yogi Bear!||Grifter Chizzling|
|1964||Kiss Me, Stupid||Dr. Sheldrake||Live-Action|
|1966||The Man Called Flintstone||Barney Rubble|
|1970||The Phantom Tollbooth||Officer Short Shrift
The Demon of Insincerity
|1974||Journey Back to Oz||Crow|
|1979||The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie||Bugs Bunny
Wile E. Coyote
Pepé Le Pew
Marvin the Martian
|1981||The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie||Bugs Bunny
Wile E. Coyote
|1982||Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales||Bugs Bunny
Wile E. Coyote
|1983||Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island||Bugs Bunny
|1983||Strange Brew||Father MacKenzie||Live-Action|
|1986||Heathcliff: The Movie||Heathcliff|
|1986||Howard the Duck||Daffy Duck (Archive footage)||Live-Action; uncredited|
|1987||The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones||Barney Rubble
|1988||Who Framed Roger Rabbit||Bugs Bunny
|1988||Daffy Duck's Quackbusters||Bugs Bunny
|1990||Jetsons: The Movie||Cosmo Spacely||Released posthumously; dedicated in memory|
|1994||The Flintstones||Dino (archive footage)||Live-Action|
|1996||Space Jam||Classic voices||Archive footage|
|2003||Looney Tunes: Back in Action||Gremlin Car||Archive footage from recordings of The Maxwell on The Jack Benny Show|
List of noteworthy radio characters 
Besides voicing characters on his own radio show (which ran from 1946–47) Blanc was a regular on such comedy classics as The Jack Benny Show, Burns & Allen, and Abbott & Costello, providing both voices and sound effects ranging from people to animals to backfiring cars.
- The Happy Postman (Burns & Allen)
- Professor LeBlanc (The Jack Benny Program)
- Mr. Technicolovich (Abbott & Costello)
- Sy the Mexican (Jack Benny, radio & TV)
- Himself (The Mel Blanc Show)
- Zookie (The Mel Blanc Show)
- Polly the Parrot (The Jack Benny Program)
- Carmichael the Polar Bear (The Jack Benny Program)
- Chuck the Plumber (The Jack Benny Program)
- Train Station Announcer (The Jack Benny Program; "Train now departing on Track Five for Ana-heim, A-zuza, and Cuc-a-monga!!")
- Christmas sales clerk (The Jack Benny Program; in most holiday episodes of the radio and TV version, Blanc would appear as a sales clerk in a department store who's driven insane by Jack's style of shopping and returning gifts.)
- The Maxwell (The Jack Benny Program)
See also 
- "Mel Blanc". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Mel Blanc's bio at Ochcom.org
- DeMolay Hall of Fame
- Video of Mel and Jack with one version of the Sy The Little Mexican routine
- Tim Lawson, The Magic Behind The Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors University Press of Mississippi, 2004
- "Did Mel Blanc hate carrots?" A Straight Dope column by Science Advisory Board Member Rico November 4, 2008 (accessed November 20, 2008)
- New York Times filmography
- That's Not All, Folks!, 1988, by Mel Blanc and Philip Bashe. Warner Books, ISBN 0-446-39089-5 (softcover), ISBN 0-446-51244-3 (hardcover)
- "Blanc laments lack of cartoon quality"
- Beck, Jerry. The Animated Movie Guide (2005).
- Mel Blanc - Obituary
- Flint, Peter B. (July 11, 1989). "Mel Blanc, Who Provided Voices For 3,000 Cartoons, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26. "Mel Blanc, the versatile, multi-voiced actor who breathed life into such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Pie, Sylvester and the Road Runner, died of heart disease and emphysema yesterday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 81 years old."
- Mel Blanc at Find A Grave.
- Thomas, Nick (2011). Raised by the Stars: Interviews with 29 Children of Hollywood Actors. McFarland. p. 217. ISBN 0786464038.
- That's Not All, Folks!, 1988 by Mel Blanc, Philip Bashe. Warner Books, ISBN 0-446-39089-5 (Softcover), ISBN 0-446-51244-3 (Hardcover)
- Terrace, Vincent. Radio Programs, 1924–1984. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999. ISBN 0-7864-0351-9
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mel Blanc|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Mel Blanc|
- Mel Blanc at the Internet Movie Database
- Mel Blanc Show Archive in MP3 format
- Toonopedia article about Mel Blanc
- Mel Blanc sings Somebody Stole My Gal (Capitol F2470)
- 40 MP3 downloads of The Mel Blanc Show
|Voice of Porky Pig
April 17, 1937 – July 10, 1989
|Voice of Daffy Duck
April 17, 1937 – July 10, 1989
|Voice of Bugs Bunny
July 27, 1940 – July 10, 1989
|Voice of Barney Rubble
September 30, 1960 – July 10, 1989