Charles Thorson

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Charles Thorson
Charles Gustav Thorson.jpg
Thorson, c. 1964
BornCharles Gustav Thorson
(1890-08-29)August 29, 1890
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died7 August 1966(1966-08-07) (aged 75)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Notable works
Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd

Charles "Charlie" Gustav Thorson (29 August 1890 – 7 August 1966) was a Canadian political cartoonist, character designer, children's book author and illustrator. Thorson is best known as the man who designed and named Bugs Bunny.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Thorson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was of Icelandic descent, as his parents were part of the Icelandic immigration to Canada in the 19th century. His parents were part of the 1,700 Icelanders who registered with the Winnipeg Immigration Office in 1887.[2] Politician Joseph Thorson was his older brother.


Thorson's self-portrait drawing in 1931 portrayed him as a Viking based on his Icelandic descent.

From 1935 to 1945, Thorson worked in American animation studios, including The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros.[3] He created hundreds of cartoon characters, including Snow White, Elmer Fudd, Little Hiawatha, Sniffles the Mouse, 'Inki and the Mynah', The Lady Known as Lou, and Twinkletoes. Thorson would tell friends and family back in Winnipeg that Snow White's likeness was based on his Icelandic girlfriend[2] by the name of Kristin Solvadottir. Solvadottir was an Icelandic waitress located in Winnipeg,[4] although it is disputed whether she was an actual girlfriend or love interest.[5]

After leaving Disney, Thorson designed the character Bugs Bunny in 1939.[3]

Thorson wrote two children's books, Keeko in 1947 and Chee-chee and Keeko in 1952, about the adventures of a little Native American boy. He also created the character Punkinhead, which appeared in several children's books and in Eaton's catalogues for many years.[6]

Thorson lived his life without public credit for his creations. His name was never mentioned in associated movie credits, and "rarely mentioned in studio records or in other animation books." These creations can be found in Thorson's personal albums that includes sketches and model drawings shared with his family.[2]

Thorson died in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1966.



  1. ^ Barrier, Michael. Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age. United States: Oxford University Press. p. 360. ISBN 978-0-19-516729-0. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
  2. ^ a b c Walz, Eugene (1998). Cartoon Charlie: The Life and Art of Animation Pioneer Charles Thorson. Great Plains Publications. p. 26. ISBN 0-9697804-9-4.
  3. ^ a b Neal Gabler (2007). Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination. Vintage Books. pp. 431–. ISBN 978-0-679-75747-4.
  4. ^ Bernhardt, Darren (July 8, 2018). "From Snow White to Bugs Bunny: Gimli cottage was childhood home to artist who shaped cartoon history". CBC.
  5. ^ "Icelandic National League of North America - Charles Thorson". Retrieved 2019-05-04.
  6. ^ Audrey Greer (2006). The Santa Claus Parade Story: 100 Years of Great Parades in Toronto. J.B. Greer. pp. 26–. ISBN 978-0-9781978-0-3.


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