15 Looney Facts About Tiny Toon Adventures

Tiny Toon Adventures was an unprecedented collaboration between über-producer Steven Spielberg (with his Amblin Entertainment company) and the intellectual property of classic Warner Bros. animation. It starred younger versions of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters—including Buster and Babs Bunny (no relation), Plucky Duck, Hamton J. Pig, and Dizzy Devil—and is one of those kids' shows where it isn't until years later that you realize how many of the funniest jokes initially went over your innocent little head.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the series' conclusion (the final episode, the prime time special Tiny Toons’ Night Ghoulery, aired on May 28, 1995), we've rounded up 15 fun facts you might not know about the beloved cartoon.

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MOVIE.

Cartoons starring younger versions of established family-friendly characters were de rigueur in the mid-to-late 1980s, with shows like Muppet Babies, Tom & Jerry Kids, and The Flintstone Kids. Terry Semel, former Warner Bros. president, had the initial idea of doing something similar with the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters and approached Steven Spielberg about it in 1987 to gauge his interest in making a feature film. Spielberg was interested in the project, but wanted the characters to be different, which is why Buster and Babs aren’t related to Bugs Bunny. By late 1988, the project has turned into a TV series.

2. A FULL ORCHESTRA SCORED EACH EPISODE.

Composer Bruce Broughton estimated that Spielberg’s commitment to making the music in Tiny Toon Adventures as close as possible to the original Carl Stalling compositions of the classic WB cartoons cost about $60,000 an episode. One report claimed the production utilized a 30-piece orchestra, while another said it was 35.

3. 1200 ACTORS AUDITIONED WITHIN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS.

Because they were working with a rather rushed production schedule, Tiny Toon producers needed to get all 65 episodes of the series made in 18 months, which meant they were auditioning approximately 100 actors per week. The quick turnaround also required the assistance of six different animation companies, which led to some notable differences in animation from episode to episode.

4. MEL BLANC PASSED AWAY BEFORE HE COULD REPRISE HIS ROLES.

Known as “The Man of 1000 Voices,” Blanc voiced almost every classic Warner Bros. character. So naturally, the producers planned to have him make a few cameo appearances. Unfortunately, Blanc passed away on July 10, 1989. His son, Noel Blanc, ended up voicing Porky Pig and the Taz on Tiny Toon Adventures.

5. VINCENT PRICE AND PHIL HARTMAN DID SOME VOICE WORK.

In one of his last roles, Price played Edgar Allan Poe in “How Sweetie It Is,” which featured a parody of "The Raven" with Sweetie Pie as the titular character. Hartman played Octavius in “Whale’s Tales,” the captain of the Octopi Pirates who help the evil Gotcha Grabmore. Other notable guest stars were Carol Kane, Jonathan Winters, Tim Curry, Henny Youngman, and Dan Castellaneta (taking a break from being Homer Simpson).

6. BUSTER’S ORIGINAL NAME WAS BITSY.

When producer and writer Tom Ruegger first arrived on the scene, Buster's name was Bitsy, which Ruegger said was a name that "made me cringe and I immediately started introducing new names for him ... I have a thick file on all the names we went through on that character." Ruegger's next door neighbor was the inspiration for Elmyra Duff’s first name. Scripts were written and recorded before Plucky and Hamton’s names were finalized.

7. THE PILOT WAS THE 46TH EPISODE WRITTEN.

The show launched with “The Looney Beginning.” It aired as a prime time special on CBS on September 14, 1990, following an episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles;  six million people decided to watch a repeat of Family Matters instead. When the show returned to prime time a few more times for a spring break special and the series finale, it aired on Fox.

8. ONE EPISODE SEGMENT WAS BANNED AFTER A SINGLE AIRING.

As Gogo warned in the introduction, the season two episode “Elephant Issues” consisted of three segments meant to deal with “serious social issues.” The third, “One Beer,” had Buster, Plucky, and Hamton getting drunk on one bottle of beer, then dying in a subsequent car accident. After parents complained that “One Beer” was either too dark for children and/or made too much light of alcoholism, it was pulled from reruns for almost two decades, before popping up on Canada’s Teletoon channel. In 2012, a press release announcing a new season two DVD explained why “Elephant Issues” would not be included in the set, only for Warner Bros. to have a change of heart one week later  and add the controversial episode to the DVD lineup.

9. THREE 8TH GRADERS WROTE "BUSTER AND BABS GO HAWAIIAN."

Thirteen-year-olds Renee Carter, Sarah Creef, and Amy Crosby sent a 120-page script to Warner Bros., which an employee accidentally  opened and was impressed enough to send along to the show’s staff. They were paid the standard $3,000 to $3,500 each for their efforts.

10. THERE WAS A NO GUNS POLICY.

When it came to portraying violence in Tiny Toon Adventures, there was one general rule: nothing that could be found in a mother’s house could be used to inflict pain on a character. Anvils and dynamite were therefore permissible.

11. ONE OF THE WRITERS WAS THE LIVE ACTION MODEL FOR ARIEL IN THE LITTLE MERMAID.

We all know by now that animator Glen Keane used pictures of Alyssa Milano from Who’s the Boss as the model for Ariel’s face, but Sherri Stoner was brought in by Disney artists to give them an idea of what their creation would look like in motion. Stoner was a credited writer on 30 Tiny Toon episodes.

12. A REN & STIMPY EPISODE WAS AN UNPRODUCED TINY TOON ADVENTURES SEGMENT.

Jim Smith and Bob Camp wrote and storyboarded “Hi, Spirits,” a segment where Gogo and Hamton turn a haunted house into a clubhouse, which goes about as well as you would expect. After the two left the show, it was reworked into “Boo Hoo Hoo,” with Hamton and Plucky getting all mixed up with a ghost instead of Gogo. One year later, Smith and Camp’s reworking of the script into a Ren & Stimpy adventure—now called called “Haunted House”—first aired on Nickelodeon. Coincidentally or not, in the Tiny Toons prime time Spring Break special, a rooster and a squirrel named Rank and Stumpy get run over by a bus.

13. BABS WAS PURPOSELY GIVEN MORE CLEAVAGE IN “THIRTEENSOMETHING.”

Jon McClenahan directed the season three premiere written by Sherri Stoner, and he didn’t want Babs Bunny to be overshadowed by the big female star in the episode, Shannen Doherty. Steven Spielberg said that “Thirteensomething”—which featured a Buster and Babs split-screen phone conversation meant to evoke When Harry Met Sally... and David Letterman screaming out of a window that he isn’t wearing any pants (based on an actual Late Night incident)—was the best Tiny Toons episode produced yet.

14. A SPINOFF CALLED ELMYRA’S FAMILY WAS CONSIDERED.

The episode “Take Elmyra Please” was produced as a potential pilot, but Fox passed on it, and it became a strange, seemingly random installment of Tiny Toons instead. Eventually two official spinoffs did come out of the show: Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain, and The Plucky Duck Show, which was simply one original episode and 12 others consisting of old Tiny Toons segments starring Plucky Duck.

15. ACME ACRES IS IN MISSOURI.

In the segment "Never Too Late to Loon" from “Test Stress,” Shirley Loon tries to get away from a very annoying and desperate Plucky Duck by traveling around the United States. On the animated map of the country documenting her travels, Acme Acres is shown to be in The Show Me State.

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Walt Disney Studios
15 Things You Might Not Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios

As both a groundbreaking feat for the world of animation and an enjoyable crime comedy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit stands in a class all its own. Here are a few interesting nuggets about the cartoon-live action classic, on the 30th anniversary of its release.

1. IT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE MOVIE EVER MADE.

At the time of its release on June 22, 1988, Who Framed Roger Rabbit boasted the highest budget of any film to date: a whopping $70 million (nearly $150 million in today's dollars). It topped the previous record holder, Rambo III (which had come out less than a month earlier), by about $12 million. Roger Rabbit held the designation until July 1991, ultimately falling to Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which cost $100 million.

2. THE FILM ALSO BROKE THE RECORD FOR LONGEST END CREDITS.

Recognizing a cast and crew of just over 800, Who Framed Roger Rabbit featured the longest closing credit reel ever upon its release. The film’s credits ran for over 10 minutes, even without attribution for Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor, Kathleen Turner.

3. BOB HOSKINS WAS NOT THE FIRST PICK FOR EDDIE VALIANT.

Director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg communicated with a number of big name actors in regard to the casting of human protagonist Detective Eddie Valiant. Among those considered for the curmudgeonly private eye were Harrison Ford (who was too expensive), Chevy Chase (who was not interested in the part), and Bill Murray (who allegedly never got the message and was dismayed to learn he had missed such an opportunity). Other names tossed around included Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Wallace Shawn, Ed Harris, and Charles Grodin.

4. CHRISTOPHER LLOYD WASN'T THE FILMMAKERS' FIRST CHOICE EITHER.

Christopher Lloyd in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)
Walt Disney Studios

Before landing on Zemeckis’s Back to the Future colleague Christopher Lloyd as the nefarious Judge Doom, producers considered Tim Curry (who they deemed too scary), John Cleese (not scary enough), and Christopher Lee (who turned the role down). Also in early contention: Roddy McDowell, Eddie Deezen, and Sting.

5. LLOYD WAS MORE TERRIFYING THANKS TO ONE SIMPLE TRICK.

Prompted by a suggestion from Zemeckis, Lloyd does not blink even once while onscreen in the film.

6. CHARLES FLEISCHER ACTUALLY DRESSED UP LIKE ROGER RABBIT WHEN PERFORMING HIS LINES.

Voice actor Charles Fleischer was so devoted to his role as the animated title character that he asked the costume department to create a full-body Roger Rabbit suit for him to wear on set. Fleischer delivered all of his lines from inside the suit, claiming that it helped both him and costar Hoskins immerse within the fantastical world of the film (even though Fleischer admits that Hoskins initially thought he was out of his mind).

7. THE “DIP” IS REAL.

Kathleen Turner and Bob Hoskins in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' (1988)
Walt Disney Studios

Who Framed Roger Rabbit subverts the old maxim about cartoon characters never dying by introducing the one thing that proves fatal to the lot: a liquid concoction known as “dip.” There is actually a bit of science behind this plot device. The ingredients of the dip are revealed to be turpentine, benzene, and acetone, which are all paint thinners commonly used to erase animation cells (in other words, wipe out cartoon characters).

8. THE FILM SENT BART SIMPSON TO STARDOM.

One of the film’s most chilling sequences sees Judge Doom exacting his wrath upon an anthropomorphic cartoon shoe. The character never speaks, but it squeaks and whimpers as the Judge lowers it into a vat of dip. Those cries were the work of relatively unknown voice actor Nancy Cartwright, who would rise to fame one year later as the voice of Bart Simpson.

9. EARLY DRAFTS OF THE SCRIPT WERE DARKER.

The screen adaptation of Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? underwent quite a few changes before it hit the big screen. Some drafts involved Jessica Rabbit and Baby Herman each turning out to be the story’s villain, Judge Doom revealing that he was the hunter who shot Bambi’s mother, and even Roger’s death.

10. ROGER AND EDDIE HAD FAMOUS STAND-INS FOR TEST SHOOTS.

At various stages in the film’s development, animators put together test reels for studio presentation. An early go at the project employed the vocal talents of Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-wee Herman, for a variation of Roger marked by neurotic stammering. Some time later, Richard Williams (who eventually became Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s animation director) treated Walt Disney Pictures to a taste of his talents via a scene uniting a more recognizable Roger with an appropriately cranky Eddie Valiant. Here, Eddie is played by future The Sopranos star Joe Pantoliano.

11. ROGER WAS MODELED AFTER BIG STARS.

In designing Roger Rabbit, Williams wanted to incorporate elements from classic animation. He has expressed that Roger is meant to embody the production caliber of Disney, the character design of Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes, and the personality and sense of humor of animator Tex Avery. Furthermore, Roger’s anatomy and attire can be broken up by studio influence: His face is meant to resemble a Looney Tunes character’s and his torso a Disney hero’s, while his overalls are a nod to Goofy, his gloves to Mickey Mouse, and his bow tie to Porky Pig.

12. JESSICA WAS INSPIRED BY SOME A-LISTERS, TOO.

While Jessica Rabbit’s principal aesthetic inspiration was the titular heroine of Avery’s famous short “Red Hot Riding Hood,” she had a few human influences as well. Among them were Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, and Veronica Lake.

13. THE FILM SPAWNED THE INDUSTRY TERM “BUMPING THE LAMP.”

For movie animators and special effects artists, the phrase “bumping the lamp” refers to the application of tremendous effort to a particular aesthetic feature that viewers will more than likely never even notice. The saying entered the lexicon thanks to a scene that involved Bob Hoskins’s character repeatedly bonking his head on a low-hanging ceiling lamp, causing it to swing around the room. Animators had to draw and redraw Roger Rabbit in a fashion that was consistent with the rapidly fluctuating illumination of the scene. While the team was well aware that absence of the effect wouldn’t bother most audiences, they were so devoted to their craft that they stuck with it. (You can watch the scene above.)

14. THE FILM FEATURES OVER 140 PREEXISTING ANIMATED CHARACTERS.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the only film to date to unite Disney mascot Mickey Mouse and Warner Bros. icon Bugs Bunny; the pair shares a scene in the latter half of the movie, merrily skydiving next to an airborne Bob Hoskins.

In addition to Mickey, Disney showcased 81 distinct characters, as well as 14 “groups” of characters (for instance, the titular sprites from the short “The Merry Dwarfs” or the anthropomorphic fauna from the short “Flowers and Trees”) in the movie. Meanwhile, Bugs was one of 19 Warner Bros. characters to get screen time. MGM, Paramount Pictures/Fleischer Studios, Universal Studios, 20th Century Fox, King Features Syndicate, and Al Capp’s cartoons all had characters make appearances as well.

15. THAT SAID, THERE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MANY MORE CAMEOS.

Although Zemeckis and his crew managed to populate Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a vast array of recognizable characters, their original ambitions were even more sweeping. Contractual issues and time constraints kept characters like Popeye, Chip and Dale, Pepe Le Pew, Mighty Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Pedro from Saludos Amigos, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Witch Hazel, Heckle and Jeckle, several characters from Fantasia, and even Superman from the final cut.

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Pixar
10 Fast Facts About Cars
Pixar
Pixar

Pixar’s Cars was released on this day 12 years ago. So put on your helmets, rev those engines, and let’s take a look at some behind-the-scenes facts about the Oscar-winning animation studio’s fastest-moving film.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY AN UGLY DUCKLING-TYPE STORY ABOUT AN ELECTRIC CAR.

Cars started off life as Little Yellow Car, about an electric car that faces prejudice from its gas-guzzling counterparts. Pixar animator/artist Jorgen Klubien, who developed the story during production on A Bug’s Life, was inspired by real-life automotive history from his home country of Denmark.

“In the 1980s some enthusiastic folks got the idea of making a three-wheeled one-person car that ran on electricity,” said Klubien. “They put it into production and it worked great in the city, but out on the highway it was too slow. People also thought the car was ugly. I thought the electric car was ahead of its time, and it struck me as odd that my fellow Danes didn’t agree. It reminded me of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen. This famous Danish character wasn’t accepted at first, but in the end it proved to be right on the money.”

The story was deemed too slight to carry an entire movie, but the small-town setting remained an inspiration.

2. ITS CO-WRITER/DIRECTOR PASSED AWAY DURING PRODUCTION.

Cars is dedicated to Joe Ranft, the film's co-writer and co-director, who died in a car accident on August 16, 2005—while Cars was still in production. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005), which Ranft executive produced, is also dedicated to him.

3. MATER IS BASED ON A REAL-LIFE NASCAR ENTHUSIAST.

The country bumpkin tow truck Mater got his name from NASCAR superfan Douglas “Mater” Keever, whom the filmmakers met while on a research trip to North Carolina’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway (now called the Charlotte Motor Speedway). Keever has a voice cameo in the film, as the motor home who says “Well dip me in axle grease and call me slick” early in the film. (Keever improvised the line, which was originally “Well dip me in axle grease and call me lubrication.” Producer Darla Anderson opted to change it, Keever speculated, because “maybe she thought it sounded sexual, I don’t know.”)

4. MANY AUTO WORLD LUMINARIES LENT THEIR VOCAL TALENTS.

Reigning racing champ Strip “The King” Weathers is voiced by legendary racer Richard Petty, who has the same nickname as his animated counterpart. Weathers’s wife, credited as “Mrs. The King,” is voiced by Petty’s wife, Lynda Petty. Several other automotive notables contribute their vocal talents: announcer/former racer Darrell Waltrip plays “Darrell Cartrip”; Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR’s radio show Car Talk, voice Lightning McQueen’s sponsors, Rusty and Dusty Rust-eze; and racers Michael Schumacher, Mario Andretti, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. voice automotive versions of themselves. (Despite voicing announcer “Bob Cutlass,” sports analyst Bob Costas doesn’t actually cover racing.)

5. SEVERAL ACTORS CHANGED FOR INTERNATIONAL RELEASES.

For Cars’s UK release, Jeremy Piven was replaced as the voice of Lightning McQueen’s never-seen agent Harv by Top Gear co-host Jeremy Clarkson. “The King” was also voiced by different racers in some international releases, as Richard Petty isn’t as well known outside of the United States. In Germany, The King is voiced by Formula One champ Niki Lauda, while in Spain he is Formula One’s Fernando Alonso.

6. MOST CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON REAL CARS.

Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Chick Hicks are all original Pixar designs, but most of the other characters are based on existing cars. Among them are Doc Hudson (1951 Hudson Hornet), Ramone the body paint specialist (1959 Chevy Impala), tire salesman Luigi (1959 Fiat 500), hippie Fillmore (1960 Volkswagen Microbus), military surplus store owner Sarge (1942 Willys Jeep), and Mack, the truck that drives Lightning around (Mack Superliner). Sally, as a 2002 Porsche 911 Carrera, is the only Radiator Springs character modeled after a contemporary car.

7. IT BROUGHT A NEW STANDARD OF REALISM TO ANIMATED FILMS.

Cars was the first Pixar feature to utilize a technique known as “ray tracing,” which properly renders the way light passes through and collides with surfaces. More simply, it enables artists to accurately depict reflections without having to go through and “paint” them individually. Ray tracing takes up a massive amount of computer power; as a result, each frame (or about 1/24th of a second) of Cars took an average of 17 hours to render. Some frames took up to a week.

8. IT WAS PAUL NEWMAN’S FINAL FILM—AND HIS HIGHEST-GROSSING.

Cars marks the final film of Paul Newman, who in addition to being an actor/entrepreneur/philanthropist also became a racing enthusiast after starring in the 1969 racing drama Winning. Cars is also the highest-grossing film of Newman’s career (not adjusted for inflation).

9. ONE OF LIGHTNING MCQUEEN’S CHARACTER INSPIRATIONS WAS KID ROCK.

To help get a handle on the character of rookie racing sensation Lightning McQueen, directing animator James Ford Murphy “put together a series of little bios of great personalities that were really cocky but really likeable.” Among the people he pulled inspiration from were sportsmen Muhammad Ali, Charles Barkley, and Joe Namath, plus musician Kid Rock.

10. YOU CAN VISIT THE MOUNTAIN RANGE THAT SURROUNDS RADIATOR SPRINGS IN REAL LIFE (SORT OF).

The mountain range surrounding Radiator Springs is inspired by the real-life Cadillac Ranch, an outdoor art installation located outside Amarillo, Texas that consists of heavily spray-painted Cadillacs, half-buried facedown in the ground.

Additional Source: The Pixar Touch, by David A. Price

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