The Quick 10: 10 Facts About the Golden Age of Looney Tunes

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1. In the beginning, Tweety was pink. He was also named Orson. His first appearance was in the 1942 short A Tale of Two Kitties, in which he showed down two hungry cats named Babbit and Catstello (based on Abbott and Costello). In his second short, Birdy and the Beast, he was named Tweety; the yellow feathers were drawn on later in response to criticism of the originally naked bird.

2. The Looney Tunes cast have been spokespersons for nearly everything: cars, DSL, cereal, the Yellow Pages, auto insurance, TV dinners, credit cards, batteries, delivery services, and candy. More specifically, 9Lives cat food (that was Sylvester), KFC (Foghorn Leghorn), and Meguiar's "Fast Finish" car wax, as seen below.

3. Though usually known as “Yosemite,” Sam is a man of many aliases, including Chilkoot Sam, Square-deal Sam, Riff Raff Sam, Sam Schulz, Seagoin' Sam, Shanghai Sam, and Sam Von Schamm the Hessian.

4. “Of course you realize, this means war,” was used by Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck in many Golden Age shorts, but only once in direct impersonation of the line’s original author, Groucho Marx, in “Slick Hare.”

5. The theme song is called “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.”

6. “The Censored Eleven” refers to 11 Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts not available for sale and never aired on American television. They feature heavily stereotyped characters (such as Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs), which prior to 1968 were generally acceptable to the viewing audience. Collections on DVD of episodes featuring similar gags based on racial prejudices now come with a disclaimer:

“The cartoons you are about to see are products of their time. They may depict some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that were commonplace in the U.S society. These depictions were wrong then and they are wrong today. While the following does not represent the Warner Bros. view of today's society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed.”

[Updates: "The Censored Eleven" may be coming to DVD this year. And in the original version of this post, we mistakenly lumped Tokio Jokio in with that group.]

7. The first version of Speedy Gonzalez had rat-like front teeth—one of which was gold.

8. Mel Blanc warns against “downers and smack” in this series of PSAs, recorded in the early 1970s.

9. Though Pepe Le Pew would chase anything even sort of resembling a skunk (including an unfortunate chihuahua), the official name for the female cat Pepe pursues is Penelope. She’s also been called Fifi, Fabrette and Feline.

10. Marvin the Martian’s dog is named “Captain K-9.”
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I’m sure you guys are full of other interesting facts. What do you know about Looney Tunes that we probably don’t?

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April 21, 2011 - 9:24am
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