MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.
Mel Blanc was a famed voice actor, known for his portrayal of many famous cartoon characters over a career that 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 1,000 Voices”), he’s also likely the most acclaimed. In other words, he wasn’t just prolific, he was good. However successful Blanc was as the man of 1,000 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 Looney Tunes film shorts distributed by Warner Bros. from the 1930s through the 1960s (Bugs himself debuted in 1940’s “A Wild Hare”).
Blanc was the voice behind Bugs Bunny for almost 50 years, from the character’s debut right up until the actor’s death in 1989. So for a guy whose most famous role was a rabbit, it’d be pretty darn funny if he were allergic to carrots, right? That’s the legend surrounding Mel Blanc and Bugs Bunny, but is it true?
It is not.
However, the story could just as easily be told as “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. Because Bugs often chomped on carrots, so, too, did Blanc when he performed the voice. As you might imagine, though, if you’re chomping on carrots that much, it affects your ability to deliver your lines. So first producers tried other “crispy” foods that would be easier to eat (like a celery stalk) but they didn’t sound right. 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 and 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 Blanc wasn’t a fan of carrots, he didn’t mind them to the point of refusing to eat them. He 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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