Back to :- Hollywood Forever - Celebrity Graves
Final Resting Place of Mel Blanc.
May 30th, 1908 - July 10th, 1989
Cartoon Voice of the Looney Toon carton characters & closing "That's All Folks"
Section 13, Pineland Section, grave 149, next to the road.
Melvin Jerome Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was a famous American voice actor for both classic American radio programs and many animation studios, primarily Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera.
Early years and radio work
Born in San Francisco, California, he grew up in Portland, Oregon, attending Lincoln High School. At 16 he changed the spelling of his last name, from "Blank". Blanc was working as a voice actor in radio when his ability to create voices for multiple characters first attracted attention. He was a regular on the Jack Benny Program in various roles, including Benny's automobile (a Maxwell in desperate need of a tune up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, and Benny's pet polar bear Carmichael. Blanc's success on the Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS radio network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946 to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner of a fix-it shop, in addition to a wide range of comical support characters. Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joseph Kearns, Hans Conried, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus and Bea Benaderet. Blanc also appeared on other national radio programs such as The Abbott and Costello Show, Burns and Allen as the Happy Postman, August Moon on Point Sublime, Sad Sack on G.I. Journal, and later played various small parts on Benny's television show. Blanc's most memorable routine from Benny's radio and TV programs is called "Sy, the little Mexican" in which he spoke one word at a time. The famous 'si...Sy...sew...Sue' routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of the Blanc and Benny. Another famous Blanc role on Jack's show was the Union Train Depot announcer who inevitably intoned, sidelong: "Train leaving on Track Five for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga". What made that phrase so funny was the pregnant pause that evolved over time between "Cuc.." and "...amonga" -- eventually minutes would pass while the skit went on, the audience awaiting the inevitable conclusion of the word. For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Animation voice work during the Golden Age of Hollywood
Mel Blanc joined Leon Schlesinger Studios (the subsidiary of Warner Brothers Pictures which produced animated cartoons) in 1936. He soon became noted for voicing a wide variety of cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and many others. His natural voice was that of Sylvester the cat but without the lispy spray (you can hear it in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, which also featured frequent Blanc vocal foil Bea Benaderet; in his small appearance, Blanc plays a vexed cab-driver). Though his best-known character was a carrot-chomping rabbit, Blanc himself did not like the taste of raw carrots, as he noted in his autobiography. Additionally, munching on the carrots interrupted the dialogue. So for the sake of expedience as well as personal taste, he would munch and then spit the carrot bits into a wastebasket rather than swallowing them, and continue with the dialogue. One oft-repeated story is that he was allergic to carrots and had to spit them out to minimize any allergic reaction; but his autobiography makes no such claim. He claimed his most challenging job was voicing Yosemite Sam; it was rough on the throat because of Sam’s sheer volume. (Foghorn Leghorn's voice was similar, and similarly raucous). Blanc's long association with the theatrical cartoons of Warner Brothers gave him an edge over the made-for-TV voice actors like the two greats Daws Butler and Don Messick. Although Daws and Don both had voice roles in MGM theatrical cartoons (Daws being the southern talking wolf who always whistled and Don at times being "Droopy"), the two didn't do as many theatricals as Mel.
On January 24, 1961, Blanc was involved in a near-fatal auto accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. Hit head-on, Blanc suffered a triple skull fracture that left him in a coma for three weeks, and fractures of both legs and the pelvis. The accident prompted over 15,000 get-well cards from anxious fans, including some addressed only to "Bugs Bunny, Hollywood, USA". One newspaper falsely reported that he had died. After his recovery, Blanc reported in TV interviews, and later in his autobiography, that a clever doctor had helped him to come out of his coma by talking to Bugs Bunny, after futile efforts to talk directly to Blanc. Although he had no actual recollection of this, Blanc learned that when the doctor was inspired to ask him, "How are you today, Bugs Bunny?", Blanc answered back in Bugs' voice. Blanc thus credited Bugs with saving his life.
Blanc returned home from the UCLA Medical Center on March 17 to the cheers of more than 150 friends and neighbors. On March 22, he filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles. His accident, one of 26 in the preceding two years at the intersection, resulted in the city quickly providing money to reconstruct curves at the dangerous corner. At the time of the accident, Blanc served as the voice of Barney Rubble on ABC's The Flintstones. His absence from the show would be relatively brief after the show's producers set up recording equipment in Blanc's house to allow him to work from his residence. He also returned to "The Jack Benny Show" to film the program's 1961 Christmas show, moving around via crutches and/or a wheelchair.
Voice work for Hanna-Barbera
In the early 1960s Mel went to Hanna Barbera and continued to voice various characters, with Barney Rubble from The Flintstones (whose dopey laugh is very similar to Foghorn Leghorn's booming chuckle) and Mr. Spacely from The Jetsons being his most famous. Daws Butler and Don Messick were Hanna-Barbera's top voice men and Mel was the newcomer to H-B. However, all of the 1930s and 1940s theatrical cartoons from Warner Brothers were making their way to Saturday morning TV to compete with the made-for-TV Hanna-Barberas and Mel was once more deemed relevant. Warner Bros then started to make first-run cartoon shorts for TV in the late '60s, mostly shorts consisting of Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales or Tweety and Sylvester (he was forbidden by Hanna-Barbera to voice Bugs Bunny). Mel did these voices plus the ones he did for the ensemble cartoons like Wacky Races and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop for Hanna-Barbera. Mel even shared the spotlight with his two rivals and personal friends Daws Butler and Don Messick. In a short called Lippy the Lion, Daws was Lippy while Mel was his side-kick, Hardy Har-Har. In the short Ricochet Rabbit, Don provided the voice of the gun slinging rabbit while Mel was his sidekick, Deputy Droop-a-Long.
Later career and death
Blanc was one of hundreds of individuals that George Lucas auditioned to provide the voice for the character of C-3PO for his 1977 motion picture Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and it was he who ultimately suggested that the producers utilize mime actor Anthony Daniels' own voice in the role. After spending most of two seasons voicing the robot Twiki in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Blanc's last original character was an orange cat named Heathcliff, who spoke a little like his famed Bugs Bunny but with a more street tough demeanor. This was the early 1980s. Mel 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 the Tasmanian Devil to other voice actors as performing these were too hard on his throat and voice by the time of his old age in the 1980s. One of his last recording sessions was for a new animated theatrical version of The Jetsons, Jetsons: The Movie.
His death from cardiovascular disease was considered a significant loss to the cartoon industry because of his skill, expressive range, and the sheer volumes of continuing characters he portrayed, which are currently taken up by several other voice talents; no one individual can currently match the vocal range Blanc was able to establish. Indeed, as movie critic Leonard Maltin once pointed out, “it is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!”. That range was partially aided by recording technology. For instance, Mel’s standard Daffy Duck voice is essentially his Sylvester voice played back a few percent faster than it was recorded to give it a higher pitch. Blanc would later develop the skill to reproduce such "sped up" voices himself live as necessary. Other character voices that were given this special treatment included Porky Pig, Henery Hawk, and Speedy Gonzales.
After his death, Blanc's voice continued to be heard in newly released properties. In particular, a recording of him doing Dino the dinosaur's bark from the 1960s Flintstones series was utilized in the 1994 live-action theatrical film based upon the series. This resulted in legal action against the film studio by the Blanc estate, which claimed his recordings were used without permission or proper credit.
Blanc died in Los Angeles, California, and is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS", considered by some to be one of the most famous epitaphs in the world.