MEL BLANC – HIS EARLY YEARS IN PORTLAND TO STARDOM

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    Craig_Adams
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    Today May 30, 1908 Melvin Jerome “Mel” Blank was born in San Francisco, California to Eva H. (Katz) and Frederick Harvey “Fred” Blank. Mel had a four year older brother Henry Charles. By 1910 the Blank’s were living at 3332 Twenty-First St. in the Mission District.

    In 1915 the Blank family moved to Portland, Oregon when Melvin was six years old and lived at 225 1/2 Sherman St. Mel grew up in a diverse area of Southwest Portland. He spent his boyhood sitting in a grocery store listening to conversations of customers of certain nationalities. Those conversations would later become the genesis of what he would do, give his audience dialects in concentrated form. Mel attended Shattuck school, Commerce school & Lincoln High School.

    On December 14, 1917 Mel participated in the “Winter Swimming & Diving Meet” at the Couch School tank. Eight year old Melvin Blank was part of the 60 foot dash event. By 1920 the Blank’s had moved to 543 S.W. 5th Ave. On April 2, 1923 Melvin Blank was admitted into the “Keep Growing Wiser Order of Hoot Owls” along with nearly 200 others from all over the United States & Canada.

    On June 23, 1923 Mel was first featured on the KGW program “Stories By Aunt Nell” from 3:30 to 4pm. Here’s Mel’s first write up: “For the entertainment of the children, this afternoon Melvin Blank, a boy with a good voice, will sing a number of solos, accompanied on the piano by his brother, William Blank. Aunt Nell will read additional chapters from Allen Chaffee’s story of “Sitka, The Snow Baby.” Children love the story of the little Polar cub and his adventures and messages come in daily asking for another story about him.”

    On November 2, 1923 Mel participated in the semi-annual “Frosh Frolic” to the delight of the freshmen: Violin selections, Melvin Blank with Clara Tasker accompanying: recitation, “Daddy” by Estelle Weinstein. On February 29, 1924 Melvin Blank was a guest on KGW’s “Hoot Owls.” 15 year old Mel performed two numbers he had carried out at Lincoln High’s Commerce Vaudeville show, the same night. On April 29, 1925 Melvin Blank was part of the supporting cast of “A Single Man” presented by “The Council of Jewish Juniors” held in the Woman’s Club building (12th & Taylor Sts.) at 8:15pm. H.H. Davis wrote the amusing comedy.

    On November 22, 1925 Melvin Blank was a part of the “South Parkway Club Minstrel Show” held at the Neighborhood House (2nd & Woods Sts.). Featuring Max Rosumny performing the song “Goin’ South.” On April 29, 1926 Melvin Blank participated in the four act play “Disraeli” held at the Heilig Theater by The Center Players. On October 13, 1926 Mel was teaching the ukulele at “The B’nai B’rith Center” in preparation for the Winter season. “Twenty-Five have signed for the Ukulele Club which will start its practice at 8 o’clock under the direction of Melvin Blank.” On October 23, 1926 Mel entertained at “The B’nai B’rith Center” Sport Party. “About 45 couples attended. Several features were given and among them Melvin Blank entertained the guests with several selections on the ukulele and some song hits.”

    In 1927 Melvin Blank became a regular member on KGW’s Hoot Owl broadcasts. In 1928-29? With his deep bass tooting and his Yiddish stories, Mel won enough fame to land a job at San Francisco’s KFWI. However, Mel couldn’t save the station from going bankrupt. On November 8, 1929 Mel Blanc returned to the KGW Hoot Owls with a Milt Gross story of his own about the goose that laid the golden eggs. On August 9, 1930 Mel Blanc was master of ceremonies of KGW’s new Saturday night program from the RKO Theater stage. “The KGW-RKO Midnight Frolic” was broadcast from 11:00pm to midnight and featured the RKO cast of artists with Del Milne & His KGW Dance Band.

    On March 26, 1931 Mel Blanc officially became “Musical Director” of the 11-piece “RKO Westerners” orchestra at the “RKO Orpheum Theatre.” On May 17, 1931 it was announced Mel was leaving Portland for NBC San Francisco (KGO). It was “Mel’s work on NBC Orange network broadcasts originating at KGW on the Hoot Owls that won him some fame in radio circles in California. On June 3, 1931 Mel Blanc made his NBC Orange “Pacific Coast Network” debut on the program “The Road Show”. Mel sang in dialect the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and telling the story of “George Washingcohen at Wally Fudge.” The program was not carried on KGW.

    On June 23, 1931 KGW listeners had their first opportunity at 9:30am to hear Mel Blanc since moving to NBC San Francisco. He was featured on the program “The Entertainers.” On August 13, 1931 it was announced NBC’s “The Road Show” had been canceled and Mel was let go. He returned to KGW where they immediately debuted a new show in which Mel was the main character, entitled “De Inside Dope On Heestery”. The program was heard at 9pm every night except Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. The show also featured Rita Bell & Albert Gillette and ran until September 12, 1931. Mel was also back on The Hoot Owls and featured on other KGW shows.

    On September 24, 1931 (Follow-up) “The Road Show with Mel Blanc as master of ceremonies made a hit last Summer and many and bitter were the complaints, when due to the terrific expense of the production, NBC saw fit to side track it.” On March 1, 1932 Mel Blanc left for Los Angeles. On April 6, 1932 Mel Blanc began on KNX Los Angeles at 3:00pm. Mel would also be heard later over “The Don Lee Columbia Network”, serving CBS’s West Coast affiliates. On October 3, 1932 it was announced Mel Blanc was doing comedy stuff on KFI Los Angeles, Monday nights.

    On October 25, 1932 it was announced Mel Blanc was working at KHJ Los Angeles. The station was the flagship of the West Coast “Don Lee Broadcasting System,” DLBS. Mel was a regular on the networks “Merrymakers” program, heard on KOIN in Portland. On Feb 17, 1933 Mel Blanc appeared on the DLBS Network program “Happy-Go-Lucky Hour” at 2:15pm, doing one of his Yiddish stories. This show was heard on KOIN. Another appearance on 3-7-33. On May 14, 1933 Melvin Jerome Blank, 24, married 22 year old Estelle Zelda Rosenbaum. On May 24, 1933 it was announced Mel and Estelle were moving to Portland.

    On June 1, 1933 Mel and Estelle were both heard over KEX at 9:30pm on “Circus Court of The Air.” On June 14, 1933 Mel and Estelle Blanc began the program “Cobwebs and Nuts” on KEX, running Monday through Saturday 11 to midnight. “To describe it, is too much trouble, but it can be said the thing will be conducted by Mel Blanc.” [Mel was one of the first disc jockey’s, spending part of the program talking back to recordings. This mentioned on 4-7-49.] On October 31, 1933 Mel Blanc & Eddie King debuted Portland radio’s first locally produced Minstrel show called “Old Virginia Minstrels” on KEX at 9:15pm. The program was 15 minutes in length and ran Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and a Saturday. It last until November 16, 1933.

    On November 29, 1933 Mel launched a similar program called “Hi-de-ho-ho Corporation” on KEX at 9:00pm. The program was 15 minutes long and ran Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Friday’s. It lasted until December 27, 1933. On June 15, 1935 the last “Cobwebs and Nuts” program aired on KEX. On March 25, 1936 Mel reports he’s now with KFWB Los Angeles. On July 22, 1936 Mel reports he’s General Manager of the 20th Century Company, Music Division, 704 South Spring St., Los Angeles.

    On August 17, 1936 “Mel has his finger in several things down South. He’s on the KNX “Hollywood Barn Dance” every Saturday night from 8 to 10. Does the barnyard Noise Paper and is Ivan Poppoff, Moscow Eel Beely. He’s also on KFWB, the Warner Bros. station. He was on one of Benny’s last programs. (“The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny” on NBC Blue Network). Took the part of Mister Genzler, the movie producer, getting plenty of laughs during the 10 minutes he was on the air.” On February 7, 1937 Mel Blanc was heard for the first time in a “Looney Tunes” animated short, released from Warner Bros. on this date, “Porky’s Road Race” with cast Joe Dougherty & Billy Bletcher. [Copyright – July 3, 1937]

    On February 27, 1937 Mel was heard in the animated short “Picador Porky” with cast, released on this date. Mel was in 28 more by the end of 1937. [Copyright – May 3, 1937]. On April 17, 1937 Mel Blanc took over the voice roll of “Porky Pig” with the release of “Porky’s Duck Hunt” released on this date. Also a new animated character was introduced “Daffy Duck”. On May 20, 1937 “Joe Penner (“The Joe Penner Show” on CBS) is pleased with his new find. The “find” is Mel Blanc. Joe’s scouts discovered him singing Looney Tunes.” On September 30, 1937 “The Joe Penner Show” returns to the air Sunday (on CBS) and Mel Blanc will be on Joe’s staff every Sunday. The Man of a Hundred Voices, they bill him in Hollywood.”

    On November 14, 1937 it was reported Mel Blanc was on NBC Red Network’s “Signal Carnival” the other night, as well as “The Joe Penner Show” on CBS. On November 29, 1937 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Egghead” in “Egghead Rides Again” released on this date. Egghead would later be known as “Elmer Fudd” and Arthur Q. Bryan would take over the voice role. On March 7, 1938 “The answer to who does the hiccups on (“The Mickey Mouse Theater of The Air” 2:30pm on NBC Red Network) the Mouse programs likewise is easy. It’s Portland’s Mel Blanc.” On April 26, 1939 Mel Blanc was on “Robert Benchley’s Show” (CBS) the other night. On October 19, 1939 Mel & Estelle welcomed their son Noel Blanc.

    On Feb 7, 1940 Mel was on “Al Pearce & His Gang” at 9:00pm on CBS. On Mar 24, 1940 “I Want A Divorce” at 9:30pm on the NBC Red Network. “Mel Blanc’s role is that of a chicken.” On July 27, 1940 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Bugs Bunny” in “A Wild Hare” released on this date, with Arthur Q. Bryan as the voice of Elmer Fudd. On August 26, 1940 “Mel Blanc will be heard on “Fibber McGee & Molly” again.” (6:30pm on NBC Red). On Nov 25, 1940 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Woody Woodpecker” in “Knock Knock” released on this date. Mel played all the roles in this Walter Lantz Productions short.

    On March 6, 1941 Mel was reported to be doing a Scottish accent on “Al Pearce & His Gang” on CBS. On October 11, 1941 Mel’s father Fred died at age 62 in Vallejo, Calif. On November 15, 1941 Mel Blanc was doing dialects in addition to being “Pedro” on “Signal Carnival” programs at 8pm on NBC Red. Also appeared on 11-30-41 & 1-4-42. On January 8, 1942 Mel appeared on NBC Red’s “Al Pearce & His Gang” at 7:00pm for “Stooge Night.” Mel was guest of honor on Al’s 1-29-42 progam. On January 10, 1942 it was mentioned Mel was playing an Irish Cop on the program “Brooklynite” which was syndicated and a cockney accent on several other radio shows. On March 5, 1942 Mel introduced a new character, a guitar-playing aircraft worker on “Al Pearce & His Gang” 7:00pm on NBC Red.

    On March 7, 1942 Mel Blanc appeared on the new record release “Click, Click, Another Drink” by Spike Jones & His City Slickers. Vocal by Del Porter with Mel peppering the recording with hiccups. The song hit #23 on Billboard, May 2nd. Bluebird 11466 (Victor). On May 10, 1942 Mel played the voice of a goat on “The Great Gildersleeve” at 8:00pm on the NBC Red Network. On November 11, 1942 “Portland’s Mel Blanc is Hollywood’s busiest actor. He has just appeared in seven top radio shows in seven days — The Great Gildersleeve (NBC), The Abbott & Costello Show (NBC), Point Sublime (NBC), The Tommy Riggs & Betty Lou Show (NBC), Major Hoople (The Blue Network), Stars Over Hollywood (syndicated) and The Burns & Allen Show (CBS).

    On November 21, 1942 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Tweety” bird in “A Tale of Two Kitties” released on this date. On January 21, 1943 Mel was on “The Abbott & Costello Show” at 7:00pm, then “Maxwell house Coffee Time” at 8:30pm. Both shows on NBC. On January 26 1943 “The CBS Caravan” at 7:00pm, featured a vaudeville show with six stars, including Mel Blanc. In June 1943 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Private Snafu” in “Coming!! Snafu”. On July 6, 1943 Mel Blanc was a guest on “The Judy Canova Show” CBS 9:00pm. Mel would become a regular. On August 31, 1943 Mel returned as a cast member for the new season of “The Burns & Allen Show” on CBS at 6:00pm. Mel played the part of the unhappy “Mr. Postman.”

    On October 21, 1943 it was mentioned Mel Blanc was “working on a dozen big shows, some of which would be pretty dull without him.” On November 4, 1943 Mel brought his film character Bugs Bunny to “The Abbott & Costello Show” at 7:00pm on NBC. On Jan 12, 1944 it was reported Mel Blanc was doing a one man show on AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) shortwave radio entertaining troops abroad. He called his show “Are You A Genius?” using a quiz format filled with dozens of his characters he plays on network radio and in films. On August 10, 1944 it’s mentioned the best comedy show of the season is “Nitwit Court” at 8:30pm on The Blue Network. Mel was a cast member.

    On Aug 15, 1944 “The Burns & Allen Show” returned for a new season on CBS at 6:00pm and Mel continued as a cast member. On January 6, 1945 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Pepe le Pew” in “Odor-Able Kitty” released on this date. On January 13, 1945 “The Judy Canova Show” returned but switched networks to NBC at 7:00pm. Regular cast member Mel Blanc was back playing Judy’s hired man (servant). On March 24, 1945 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Sylvester” in “Life With Feathers” released on this date. Tweety was not included in this short.

    On April 1, 1945 Mel Blanc was a guest on “The Nelson Eddy Show” as Bugs Bunny. CBS 1:30pm. On May 5, 1945 Mel Blanc introduced a new animated character “Yosemite Sam” in “Hare Trigger” released on this date. The short also featured Bugs Bunny. On September 19, 1945 Mel Blanc was a guest on “The Jack Carson Show” at 9:00pm on CBS as Hubert Peabody. On October 4, 1945 “The Abbott & Costello Show” returned for another season on NBC at 7:00pm. The old cast was back including Mel as Botsford Twink.

    On October 30, 1945 all of Mel Blanc’s current roles were listed:
    Mel did regular broadcasts for AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) shows: “Mail Call”, “Command Performance” & “Jubilee.”
    Mel was “Trigger Joe” in Air Force training films and featured in Army & Navy instructional films as well.
    Mel did over 90% of the male voice parts in Warner Bros. cartoons and receives screen credit now.
    Mel continued to do his AFRS program “Are You A Genius?” solo, doing all the parts.
    Mel has done more broadcasts to the Armed Forces than any actor in the business.
    Mel played “Mr. Postman” and other roles on “The Burns & Allen Show” on CBS.
    Mel was “Pedro” and other parts on “The Judy Canova Show” on NBC.
    Mel played various roles on “The Abbott & Costello Show” on NBC.
    Mel was “Private Sad Sack” on “The Bob Hope Show” on NBC.

    On November 13, 1945 Mel played the parts of a parrot and the police inspector on “The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny” Sunday at 4pm on NBC. On January 31, 1946 it’s reported Mel Blanc is among the radio players (not stars) who make $25,000 to $50,000 a year by merely reading a few lines. On February 10, 1946 Mel Blanc was a guest on “stooges day” on the program “Radio Hall of Fame” at 3:00pm on ABC.

    On March 2, 1946 it was mentioned Mel Blanc played a variety of roles on different radio programs:
    Mel played “The English Butler” and other characters on “The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny” on NBC.
    Mel played “Pedro” and “Roscoe Wortle” plus a chronic cougher on “The Judy Canova Show” on NBC.
    Mel played “The Scotchman” on “The Abbott & Costello Show” on NBC.
    Mel played “Mr. Postman” on “The Burns & Allen Show” on NBC.

    On March 24, 1946 Bugs Bunny was a guest on “Request Performance” at 6:00pm on CBS. On August 20, 1946 it was announced that “Mel Blanc’s Fixit Shop” program would debut on CBS September 3rd. It will be a situation comedy about a man who has time to repair other peoples mistakes but not his own. On August 31, 1946 Mel Blanc introduced two new animated characters “Foghorn Leghorn” and “Barnyard Dog” in “Walky Talky Hawky” released on this date. In addition, Mel took over the voice role of “Henery Hawk”. On August 31, 1946 “The Judy Canova Show” returned to NBC at 6:00pm Saturdays with regular cast returning including Mel.

    On September 3, 1946 the Mel Blanc show “Blanc’s Fixit Shop” debuted on CBS Tuesday at 7:30pm with Mel playing himself. On December 1, 1946 Mel returned for the first time in the current season of “The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny.” Mel played Jack’s music teacher. Benny did his show in New York and Mel’s other shows were in Hollywood, making for a real commute. Benny was still on NBC, Sundays at 4:00pm. On April 8, 1947 CBS – 8:30 P.M. — Mel completely upsets the town merchants’ annual Easter Egg hunt on “The Mel Blanc Show.”

    On April 14, 1947 Mel Blanc, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope & Red Skelton each made radio transcription PSA’s urging revival of “The Portland Symphony Orchestra.” The society needed to raise $137,000. Portland had been without an Orchestra since 1937. All Portland stations agreed to run the spots. [Was Mel Blanc behind the radio stars participation?] On May 3, 1947 the first pairing in an animated short of Sylvester and Tweety in “Tweetie Pie” released on this date. Mel of course was the voice of both. Sylvester was occasionally called “Thomas.”

    On June 17, 1947 the last Mel Blanc Show “Blanc’s Fixit Shop” aired on CBS. On July 20, 1947 Mel Blanc was in Portland and spoke at the B’nai B’rith benefit show. Mel stayed in Portland for six days. On August 16, 1947 Capitol Children’s Records released “Bugs Bunny – Stories For Children” featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig & Daffy Duck, with Arthur Q. Bryan doing the voice of Elmer Fudd. Capitol CC64. On June 12, 1948 the album hit #2 on the Billboard Children’s Chart. On August 19, 1947 “Point Sublime” returned for another season at 8:00pm on ABC with regular cast members including Mel.

    On August 30, 1947 “The Judy Canova Show” returned for another season at 6:00pm Saturdays on NBC. Mel continued in the cast as “Pedro” and “Roscoe Wortle.” On September 4, 1947 “The Burns & Allen Show” returned for another season at 8:00pm Thursdays on NBC. Mel returned as a cast member. Mel was also on “Maxwell House Coffee Time” at 8:30pm Thursdays on NBC. On November 23, 1947 Mel returned for the first time this season to “The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny.” In this episode Mel played Jack’s violin teacher and Jack fiddles while his teacher burns! NBC Sunday at 4:00pm. On February 14, 1948 Mel continued to be heard on ABC’s “Point Sublime” Mondays at 8pm, playing as August “Moony” Moon.

    On July 17, 1948 Mel Blanc’s recording of “Woody Woodpecker” with The Sportsmen, hit the Billboard chart. The song hit #2 for 5 weeks in a row, beginning on July 31st. Capitol 15145. On September 4, 1948 Mel Blanc’s album recording of “Bugs Bunny And The Tortoise” hit Billboard’s Children’s Chart. The album hit #2 on Dec. 13th. Capitol Children Records DBX-93. On October 2, 1948 “The Judy Canova Show” returned for another season on NBC Saturdays at 6:30pm. Mel was back as “Pedro.” On October 31, 1948 Mel sang the novelty son “Big Bear Lake” on “The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny” Sunday at 4:00pm.

    On April 7, 1949 Mel was in Portland for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of “Neighborhood House” as Master of Ceremonies. In addition he was a guest on KEX’s popular children’s show “The Squirrel Cage” hosted by “Uncle Bob” Amsberry, at 4:30pm. It’s mentioned “Mel is the highest paid novelty man in radio today.” On April 18, 1949 Mel Blanc’s recording of “I’m Just Wild About Animal Crackers” with The Sportsmen, was released. The song hit #14 on the Billboard Children Records Chart on June 4th. Capitol 57-560. On June 9, 1949 Mel Blanc played the character “Pancho” in the M-G-M Technicolor musical “Neptune’s Daughter” which debuted in Portland on June 14, 1949 at J.J. Parkers United Artists Theatre.

    On September 3, 1949 Mel Blanc’s album recording of “Bugs Bunny In Storyland” hit the Billboard Children’s Chart. The album hit #2 on Sept 24th. Capitol Children Records DBX 3031. On October 15, 1949 Mel Blanc’s album recording of “Woody Woodpecker And His Talent Show” hit the Billboard Children’s Chart. The album hit #1 on Dec. 10th. Capitol Children Records DBX 3032. On October 15, 1949 “The Judy Canova Show” returned for another season Saturday’s on NBC at 7:00pm. Mel returned as a cast member. On October 29, 1949 it was announced Capitol Records was rushing into release Mel Blanc’s burly take-off on Al Jolson doing “Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Good-Bye)” in an effort to ride the current plugs Jolson was getting on The Jack Benny Show. On Dec. 3rd the song hit #26 on Billboard. Capitol 57-780.

    In 1960, after the expiration of his exclusive contract with Warner Bros., Blanc continued working for WB, but also began providing voices for the TV cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera; his most famous roles during this time were Barney Rubble of The Flintstones and Cosmo Spacely of The Jetsons. His other notable voice roles for Hanna-Barbara included Dino the Dinosaur, Secret Squirrel, Speed Buggy and Captain Caveman, as well as voices for Wally Gator and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.

    Blanc also worked with former Looney Tunes director 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. Blanc was the first voice of Toucan Sam in Froot Loops commercials.

    Blanc reprised some of his Warner Bros. characters when the studio contracted him 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 for the bridging sequences of The Bugs Bunny Show, as well as in numerous animated advertisements and several compilation features, such as The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie.

    On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal car accident, as he was going to a studio to work on a commercial. He was driving alone when his sports car collided head-on with a car driven by 18-year-old college student Arthur Rolston on Sunset Boulevard. Blanc was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center with a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for two weeks, along with sustaining fractures to both legs and the pelvis.

    About two weeks after the accident, one of Blanc’s neurologists tried a different approach. Blanc was asked, “How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?” After a slight pause, Blanc answered, in a weak voice, “Eh… just fine, Doc. How are you?” The doctor then asked Tweety if he was there too. “I tot I taw a puddy tat,” was the reply. Rolston suffered minor injuries. On March 17, 1961 Blanc returned home. Four days later, Blanc 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 Bros. cartoons’ voice tracks for him. Warner Bros. had also asked Stan Freberg to provide the voice for Bugs Bunny, but Freberg declined, out of respect for Blanc. 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 Barney for a few episodes, after which the show’s producers set up recording equipment in Blanc’s hospital room and later at his home to allow him to work from there. Some of the recordings were made while he was in full-body cast as 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.

    In the 1970s, Blanc gave a series of college lectures across the US and appeared in commercials for American Express. Throughout the 1980s, Blanc performed his Looney Tunes characters for bridging sequences in various compilation films of Golden-Age era Warner Bros. cartoons, such as The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales, Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island and Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters.

    After spending most of two seasons voicing the robot Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Blanc’s last original character was Heathcliff, in the early 1980s. 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 Taz to other voice actors since as he got older, he found their voices too hard on his throat. His final performance of his Looney Tunes roles was in Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters.

    In the 1988 live-action/animated movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Blanc reprised several of his classic Looney Tunes roles (Bugs, Daffy, Porky, Tweety and Sylvester), but left Yosemite Sam to Joe Alaskey (who later became one of Blanc’s permanent successors). As Disney released the film (under its Touchstone Pictures banner), it had to earn the blessing of Warner Bros. (and other rival studios) in order to feature the various non-Disney characters in the movie. Blanc died just a year after the film’s release. His final recording session was for Jetsons: The Movie (1990).

    Blanc began smoking cigarettes when he was 9 years old. He continued his pack-a-day habit until he was diagnosed with emphysema, which pushed him to quit at age 77. On May 19, 1989, Blanc was checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by his family when they noticed he had a bad cough while shooting a commercial; he was originally expected to recover. Blanc’s health then took a turn for the worse and doctors found that he had advanced coronary artery disease.

    On July 10, 1989 Mel Blanc died 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 is regarded as the most prolific voice actor in the history of the industry. He was the first voice actor to receive on-screen credit. Mel’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.

    A doctor who once examined Blanc’s throat found that he possessed unusually thick, powerful vocal cords that gave him an exceptional range. The doctor reported that they rivaled those of famed opera singer Enrico Caruso. For Mel Blanc’s contributions to the radio industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard.

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.

    References: The Oregonian, Billboard Magazine, IMDb (Internet Movie Database) & Wikipedia.

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