Witch Hazel (Looney Tunes)
|Looney Tunes character|
|First appearance||Bewitched Bunny (1954)|
|Created by||Chuck Jones|
|Voiced by||Bea Benaderet (1954)|
June Foray (1956–2004)
Tress MacNeille (1992–1994)
Roz Ryan (2011–2013)
Witch Hazel is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons and TV shows. The name is a reference to the plant witch-hazel and folk remedies based on it.
Concept and creation
Different characters of the same name appeared in several studios' short films throughout the golden age of American animation: the first was in the Disney cartoon Trick or Treat (1952), voiced by June Foray. Inspired by this character, Chuck Jones created his own witch for Warner Bros., reusing the same pun. Jones could do this because the name was already in use in commercial products; Foray said that the characters were also not expected to have any longevity. In her initial appearance, Bewitched Bunny (1954), she is voiced by Bea Benaderet. Starting with Broom-Stick Bunny (1956), Foray took over voicing the character. To differentiate the characters, Foray said that she performed the Disney version with a British accent, but the Warner Bros. version was "all American".
Despite their common name, Jones' Witch Hazel is a much different witch from her Disney counterpart. The Looney Tunes character is a highly stylized villainess. Her rotund, green-skinned body is wrapped in a plain, blue dress and supported by twig-like legs. She has wild black hair from which hairpins fly and spin in midair whenever she zooms off on her broom or cackles in glee over her next evil scheme and she wears a crumpled black hat. Her nose and chin jut bulbously from her face and her mouth sports a single tooth.
Bewitched Bunny retells the fairy tale about Hansel and Gretel. Witch Hazel plays the witch who attempts to cook and eat the children. Bugs Bunny witnesses her coax the children inside and saves the youths from Witch Hazel's clutches because the Masked Avenger is not around. Once the witch realizes that Bugs is a rabbit, she chases him to put him into her witch's brew. Upon putting Bugs into a sleeping spell, he is awoken by a kiss from Prince Charming; Bugs then tells him that he is in the wrong story. Bugs eventually uses Hazel's own magic against her and transforms her into a sexy female rabbit, to whom he is instantly attracted. He walks away with her while he breaks the fourth wall and comments, "Ah sure, I know. But aren't they all witches inside?"
In Broom-Stick Bunny, Witch Hazel takes great pride in her status as the ugliest witch. While trick-or-treating on Halloween as a witch, Bugs Bunny visits Witch Hazel's house and she mistakes him for an actual witch. So does her magic mirror, which warns, "You're an ugly one, 'tis true; but that creep is uglier far than you!" Jealous that this newcomer is uglier than herself, Hazel attempts to trick the "witch" into drinking a "Pretty Potion" disguised as tea. Bugs removes his mask to drink it and she becomes obsessed with using the rabbit in her witch's brew. Hazel captures him by tricking him with a carrot. Hazel is about to kill Bugs, but becomes distraught when his sad eyes remind her of Paul, her pet tarantula. Bugs calms her down with a beverage. Hazel unknowingly drinks the Pretty Potion, a fate worse than death for a woman who relishes her ugliness. Transformed into a young, beautiful woman, Hazel asks her magic mirror if she is still ugly. The genie in her mirror instantly falls in love with her. Hazel flies off into the night on her flying broomstick and the genie chases after her on his magic carpet. Bugs calls Air Raid headquarters about them.
Bugs Bunny was pitted against Witch Hazel for the last time in A Witch's Tangled Hare (1959), a parody of Macbeth. This short was directed by Abe Levitow. Rabbit is once again the missing ingredient to Witch Hazel's brew and Bugs happens to be in the area. Meanwhile, a William Shakespeare look-alike observes the action in search of inspiration. Bugs finds out that the man is not William Shakespeare, but is actually a man named Sam Crubish. Witch Hazel hears this and it appears that the two know each other but have not seen each other in a while because Crubish had the wrong apartment number, "2B". The poet and Witch Hazel leave talking about who made the mistake. Bugs Bunny quotes the famous line from Hamlet – "To be, or not to be, that is the question."
The Bugs Bunny short Transylvania 6-5000 (1963) features a brief, silent cameo appearance from Witch Hazel (or a character very similar to her) as Bugs briefly transforms Count Blood Count, the cartoon's vampire antagonist, into her through the use of a magic spell.
After the golden age
Witch Hazel has appeared in cameos in various Warner Bros. productions, such as the movie Space Jam (1996), the video games The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 (in which she is the primary antagonist), Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (in which she appears as a boss and also appears on the cover of the game) and Looney Tunes Collector: Alert! (2000), and one episode each of Animaniacs (in a Rita and Runt episode), The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, Pinky and the Brain, Tiny Toon Adventures and Duck Dodgers (which references Broom-Stick Bunny and where June Foray returns to do her voice). She was also featured as the lead antagonist in DC Comics' three-issue Bugs Bunny miniseries from 1990 (though at the ending of the storyline, her appearance there is actually revealed to be a disguised Wile E. Coyote). She was used as an enemy in Scott Lowenstein's Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 4 and her silhouette can be seen on the cover of the game. Witch Hazel has a cameo in the video game adaptation of Looney Tunes: Back in Action as a painting parodying the Mona Lisa in the Louvre Museum. Witch Hazel was also spotted in a MetLife commercial in 2012. Witch Hazel makes a cameo appearance in the deleted scene "Pig Head" of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
Witch Hazel also makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the film Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run.
The 2011 animated series The Looney Tunes Show introduces a similarly designed character to Witch Hazel named Witch Lezah. Lezah ("Hazel" spelled backwards) is voiced by Roz Ryan, who gives the character a pronounced African American patois. In the series, she is Gossamer's mother. Unlike the other characters and her original character, she is always serious and gives advice that is not nonsensical and is more calm. She has a contradictory relationship with Daffy; she once threatened him into helping Gossamer make friends. Once Gossamer has friends she asks Daffy to stay away despite all his hard work. She has been a hypnotherapist by trade, as seen in "Point, Laser Point", where she provided Sylvester with services when he was in denial about his relationship with his mother. In "It's a Handbag", she helped Daffy recall who took his handbag. In "Best Friends Redux", Witch Lezah has a time portal in her home, which Daffy uses to jealously ensure that Bugs Bunny and Rodney Rabbit never meet. When nobody knows Daffy, Witch Lezah, who is unaffected by the time change, sends Daffy back in time to correct it, as it's ultimately because of Rodney that Bugs and Daffy met and became friends. Daffy uses Witch Lezah's time portal again to make sure he and Porky Pig meet.
- Mallory, Michael (2014-10-23). "Which Witch is Which?". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2019-06-24.
- Greene, Heather (2018). Bell, Book and Camera. McFarland & Company. p. 96. ISBN 978-1-4766-6252-7.
- Foray, June (2015). "Chapter Seven: Chuck Who?". Did You Grow Up with Me, Too? - The Autobiography of June Foray. BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-461-3.
- Lawson, Tim; Persons, Alisa (2004). The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. University Press of Mississippi. p. 155. ISBN 1-57806-696-4.