Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.
Mel Blanc was a famed voice actor, known for voicing many famous characters in many different cartoons over his career, which spanned parts of six decades! Besides being one of the most prolific voice actors ever (his tombstone features his well-earned nickname, “The Man of 1000 Voices”), he is also likely the most acclaimed voice actor of all-time. In other words, he wasn’t just prolific, he was good.
However successful Blanc was the man of 1000 voices, though, one voice in particular is still his best known role (which is saying a lot for a guy who voiced such famous characters as Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and Barney Rubble), and that is his performance as the voice of Bugs Bunny, the most popular character from the extremely popular Looney Tunes film shorts from Warner Brothers during the 1930s through the 1960s (Bugs himself debuted in 1940′s A Wild Hare).
Blanc was the voice behind Bugs Bunny for almost fifty years, from Bugs’ debut right up until Blanc’s death in 1989. So for a guy whose most famous role was a rabbit, it’d be pretty darn funny if he was allergic to carrots, right? That’s the legend surrounding Mel Blanc and Bugs Bunny, that Blanc was actually allergic to carrots. Is it true?
It is not.
However, the story could just as easily be told with “Mel Blanc, voice of Bugs Bunny, did not like eating carrots.”
That, in and of itself, is interesting AND true!
The whole “allergic” story likely started because of something Blanc would do while recording Bugs’ voice. As Bugs often chomped on carrots, so, too, did Blanc when he did the voice. As you might imagine, though, if you are chomping on carrots that much, it will affect your ability to deliver your lines. So first they tried other “crispy” foods that would be easier to eat (like a celery stalk) but they didn’t sound right, so instead Blanc would just bite a provided carrot, chew it a bit and then spit it out. This was done for efficiency’s sake, but it was extrapolated over the years into “He spit out the carrots because he was allergic to them so he couldn’t have them in his mouth for too long.” An alternative myth was the simpler “he spit out the carrots because he hated the taste.”
In a great bit on the great website, The Straight Dope, a friend and former co-worker of Blanc’s, Chuck McKibbin, confirmed that while yes, Blanc was not a great fan of carrots, he did not mind them to the point of refusing to eat them. McKibbin explained:
The story about him being allergic to carrots is nothing more than an urban legend. He didn’t necessarily like carrots – for that matter, Mel wasn’t fond of anything healthy – but there was nothing like the crunch of a carrot. Mel knew that. So he’d chomp, spit it out in the nearby spittoon, and say his line. Mel Blanc was a true professional.
So there you have it!
The legend is…
Thanks to The Straight Dope for the, well, straight dope, and thanks to Chuck McKibbin for the information!
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