WANTED: The Bugs Bunny Show

bugs_bunny_show

Yesterday I hosted a Looney Tunes marathon screening (six hours!) in Los Angeles. I devoted one hour of it to running a bunch of ABC’s Bugs Bunny Show (1960) bumpers and TV commercials.

For years I’ve been obsessed with the original prime-time network Bugs Bunny Show partly because it was my first exposure to the classic Looney Tunes characters. But also because the original 52 episodes have been locked up in the Warner vaults and haven’t been seen in their original format for decades.

I really can’t understand it. Fresh animation by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Robert McKimson and their crews, bridging classic cartoons in each episode. Much of this material is quite good. Why wouldn’t the studio do everything in its power to restore these and make them available?

One reason we do not see these, is because the original negatives were abused – cut up to suit the whims of Saturday morning reruns for 40 years. The show was never syndicated – it remained on network television (usually ABC or CBS) after its initial prime time run. Thus, there were never any 16mm syndication prints as their were for most TV shows – only a few (usually black & white) back-up prints for network airing.

german_bugs Bunny

I hold out hope that duplicate color negatives exist in Europe. The show was shown, intact, for years in foreign territories.

One of my fascinations with the program is all the promotional art created for the show. These unique title cards (below) were created to billboard the coming attractions at the end of each episode.

elmer_fudd

Bugs_daffy_tweety

Did you know the singing frog from One Froggy Evening was originally named “Enrico”? I suppose Chuck simply forgot he already christened the character back in the 1960s on The Bugs Bunny Show when he renamed him “Michigan J. Frog” sometime in the 1970s. This is the sort of thing having this show languish in the vaults will cause.

enrico

The studio artists created all sorts of art connected to the TV show. Like this sponsors bumper for Colgate:

bugs_colgate

Or this box of “Top 3″ cereal for sponsor Post Cereals:

Bugs_top3

Merchandisers also got on board to support the TV exposure for the Looney Tunes. Western Publishing (Gold Key Comics) cashed in with several issues of Bugs Bunny Show-Time:

bugs_bunny_showtime

Colorforms – years ahead of PD video producers – produced this particularly ugly kids product under license from Warner Bros.

bugs_bunny_game

It was common for TV networks to hire a caricaturist to create art featuring the stars of their series… Can anyone identify the artist of this official publicity photo?

Bugs-publicity_photo

Dear Warner Bros.

Please restore and release the original Bugs Bunny Show. You’ve got gold on your hands, if you play it right.

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24 responses to “WANTED: The Bugs Bunny Show

  1. This is a situation where computer colorization of the B&W elements wouldn’t bother me at all, since the bumpers originally were done in color, and in some cases, the color charts for those segments are still available.

  2. Yeah, I’m still waiting for a complete “The Bugs Bunny Show” set. I think it would sell well even if Warners release it as part of the “Warners Archive” brand.

  3. i remember the show like it was yesterday. I think it was on the ABC for 2 seasons om 1961 to 62. The cartoons the featured were newer than the ones I would see on the after-school cartoon shows on the local stations. I remember the wrap-arounds were great and more entertaining then the ones Disney would do with their shorts for the Wonderful World of Color. I remember seeing the Road Runner and Coyote for the first time on “The Bugs Bunny Show”. After the network run, ABC started running the original episodes on Saturday mornings. When the show went to CBS, they was heavily edited for time constrains and for some violence. Really too bad the original negatives were cut up and abused. There might be some 16mm air prints somewhere. i think I seen a few for sale on ebay…

  4. I remember the segments from the CBS Bugs Bunny Roadrunner show (when it was a super 90 minute block), and thought the whole format was cool! They were produced when the original run of the series was still in production, so they fit right in; both voices and drawings. (I guess those were what was left of those original negatives). Then, subsequent reformats of the show dropped those for good. I then wished they would resurrect the original show, which I had never seen.

  5. I think it actually began airing in prime time in 1960. The above Elmer Fudd promo art has a 1960 copyright. Yes, there was quite a contrast between the pre-48 cartoons and the later ones shown on ABC. This is where the Tasmanian Devil got his popularity with only a handful of cartoons. We probably learned more about backstage show business from listening to the theme song than we did from any live action show.

  6. I was nine when the BBS first aired and I loved it! Still really enjoy seeing what is available (old b&w film and what’s on some of the Golden collections ). The wrap-arounds were so entertaining and made it truly a “show”. I will be at the front (or near the front) of the line to shell out good money if Warner ever brings this show to DVD. Jerry, I know you’ve been working on this for a long time–please don’t give up. We “old-timers” have to keep all the Golden Age treasures alive for ourselves and for those that follow us.
    best, DJAnderson

    • Thanks for letting me know, Ken. I have about six or seven 16mm prints (including one in color!). I also have a bunch of bridges from other collectors amassed on video… What I haven’t done is compiled all the known episodes in collectors hands into one chronologic DVD-R (for personal research viewings, of course). I need to do that.

      Professionally, I have discovered that Warner Bros. has all the episodes, completely intact with original commercials, in 35mm black & white. It’s the color elements that are messed up – and its the cost of reconciling the whole thing that prevents this project from moving forward. I cannot stress enough all the trouble that had to be gone through to get the restorations we did on the Golden Collections – and that was simply for “bonus material” (the rule of thumb at Warners is not to restore anything for bonus material).

      Every few years I go on a rant about the sorry fate of The Bugs Bunny Show. After my screening yesterday, I had to bring it up again. Maybe it’s time for us to do our own “underground” compilation… :/

  7. I have BB Show IB footage in my collection from the episode where Daffy is dressed as Bugs and harassed by a quasi-Lonesome Lenny, but it’s missing the last scene. I find that the case with most 16mm color prints of the shows. It probably is high time to transfer everything we can personally.

  8. Old enough to remember prime-time cartoons — were they all in the wake of Flintstones or am I misremembering? Rocky and his Friends rose out of syndication as The Bullwinkle Show; and I’m pretty sure the Alvin Show was originally prime time. Both used variations of Bugs Bunny’s giving-a-show format (although I think Bullwinkle’s stagebound bits came first). Handy device for linking up shorts.

    Later variations traded the backstage conceit for characters showing their films as films. Woody Woodpecker had that 16mm projector; Casper assembled his pals in front of a cloud-based TV screen; and Porky Pig had a barn dance featuring a television set. Even the Saturday morning Bugs Bunny eventually had Bugs pointing to a home movie screen to introduce Road Runner.

    This signifies something but I don’t know what.

    • And, naturally, the opening for “The Alvin” show had the Chipmunks running around their TV studio, with Alvin calling cues from the control booth before zipping out to join his brothers in the onstage dance number (just seconds before Clyde Crashcup wandered by and sucked all the action out of the room, of course)!

  9. Jerry, if you’re interested, I’ve got a few recorded episodes of the so-called Season 3 (1971-72), which is nothing but stuff recycled from Season 1 & 2 and that’s the only season that went international. My recordings are of VHS quality (recorded around 1990′s but not by me) and PAL master with Polish voice-over done to it, of course.

  10. You may want to pursue Canadian networks. I remember being very young and seeing this show (I’m fairly sure) on CBC. I do remember the Bugs Bunny Road Runner hour mostly but I remember it was The Bugs Bunny Show before then.

  11. In addition the responses above, I’ve gotten several private emails from collectors offering up their copies of various Bugs Bunny Shows. In the next few weeks (if I don’t get too distracted) I’ll go through my collection and note which episodes I already have bridges for, then I’ll compile a “most wanted” list of material I still need. With 52 episodes, I’m afraid it may be difficult (or impossible)… but let’s start the process…

  12. I put the suggestion to Warner Archive about a year ago and they said that there was no way that the show could be restructured. It would be nice to see it happen.

  13. Ooh! I’ve been waiting years for the right opportunity to post this little-known (or cared about) fact: I was, _literally_, only three and a half years old when “The Bugs Bunny Show” debuted on prime time on ABC in the fall of 1960! (Well, that dates me…) And I think I still remember some of it. That’s very likely when I became a Warner Bros. cartoon fan…

  14. I remember the show from its original night time broadcast,especially one non-froggy evening. A rare sleep over at my grandparent’s house,along with my little brother.Rememberances includes a visit from the ice cream truck.My Grandmom loved ice cream and the bells of the ice cream truck was like a drug pusher loudly announcing his presence in the neighborhood.Not only did this guy sell popsicles,but a nine year old male boomer’s best drug-baseball cards.I opend the pack that Grandmom bought for me and-hooray-a team picture of my unlovable Philadelphia Phillies(my Grandpop was still reeling over the Athletics move to Kansas City a few years back).Top that off with my grandpaprents not only letting me watch the Bugs Bunny Show(this may have interruped my Grandpop’s usual western fare,a true sign of love)but actually sitting and watching along side.I don’t remember my folks ever doing that:”Overture!Curtain lights!This is it!Our night of nights!”

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