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Retro : Name That Looney Tune

May 26, 1991|SUSAN KING | Times Staff Writer

Warner Bros'. Looney Tunes have always been a different breed of animal, or rather animals, from Walt Disney's collection of animated favorites.

Disney's Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Bambi, Dumbo and those 101 Dalmatians are adorable, sweet, cute, lovable and beloved. Who didn't cry when Bambi's mother died?

But no one has ever cried at a Looney Tunes character, unless it was tears of laughter. No one has ever said, "Bugs Bunny . . . isn't he sweet?"

That's because those wacky Looney Tunes--Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Porky Pig, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Tweety and Sylvester, Pepe Le Pew and Speedy Gonzales--are irreverent, cynical, slapsticky, violent, outrageous and crazy. Definitely not sweet.

The Looney Tunes gang is embedded in our popular culture. Bugs, who celebrated his 50th birthday last year, was voted "best puppet or cartoon character" in a 1985 People magazine's Readers' Poll. Such Looney Tunes phrases as "What's up, doc?" and "That's all, folks" are part of our vocabulary.

Even Looney Tunes animators/directors such as Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and Frank Tashlin became stars in their own right.

Beginning at noon Monday, Nickelodeon presents the "Looney Tunes Memorial Day Pig Out," eight hours of Looney Tunes. That's 16 back-to-back episodes of vintage "Loon-acy."

This is in addition to Nick's regular "Looney" schedule Mondays-Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 8 p.m.

Nick's "Looney Tunes" is a combination of a pre-1948 lineup of theatrical cartoons that Warners sold into syndication in the 1950s and cartoons from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s that have been seen for several years in syndication and on network TV.

Bugs and the entire Warner Bros. inventory of theatrical cartoon characters made their network TV bow in the CBS prime-time series, "The Bugs Bunny Show," which aired from 1960 to '62. Bugs and his pals then moved to the Saturday morning lineup and are now seen on ABC in "Bugs Bunny & Tweety" at 10 a.m.

The Warner Bros. cartoon studio was founded in 1929 by Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising, friends of Walt Disney. The first Looney Tunes character created was Bosko, sort of a human version of Mickey Mouse who wore a bowler hat and had a falsetto voice. Bosko made his debut May 6, 1930, in "Sinkin' in the Bathtub."

The Nick marathon features four black-and-white Bosko shorts: 1932's "Bosko's Party" (4 p.m.), 1933's "Bosko the Mechanical Man (4:30 p.m.), 1932's "Bosko at the Beach" (6 p.m.) and 1931's "Bosko's Fox Hunt" (6:30 p.m.).

Harman-Ising left the studio in 1933 for MGM, and former Harman-Ising employees, including Freleng and Clampett, returned to Warners from other animation shops. Cartoon director Earl Duvall then created a new Looney Tunes character named Buddy, a rotund humanoid who is a cross between Bosko and Porky Pig.

Buddy starred in 23 shorts from 1933 to 1935. Nick is presenting "Buddy's Show Boat" (1 p.m.), "Buddy's Beer Garden" (1:30 p.m.), "Buddy's Bearcats" (3 p.m.), "Viva Buddy" (5 p.m.) and "Buddy Steps Out" (7:30 p.m.).

Another rarity featured on the Nick marathon is "How Do You Know It's Sunday?" (noon), a 1934 cartoon without any famous Looney characters from Freleng.

And what's a "Pig Out" without Porky Pig? Porky made his film debut 56 years ago in Freleng's "I Haven't Got a Hat." The Nick marathon features more than 10 vintage Porky shorts, including such early comedies as 1937's "Porky's Railroad" (12:30 p.m.) and 1938's "Porky's Five and Ten" (3:30 p.m.) and "Porky's Party" (7 p.m.).

The wascally "wabbit" officially made his film debut in Tex Avery's 1940 classic "A Wild Hare." On Monday, Bugs is featured in Freleng's short "Knights Must Fall" (1 p.m.) and later headlines "Bugsy and Mugsy" (3:30 p.m.) before joining frequent co-star Elmer Fudd in 'Pre-Hysterical Hare" (6 p.m.).

Daffy Duck was introduced in Avery's 1937 short "Porky's Duck Hunt." And Daffy fans can quack up Monday over "Daffy Duck Hunt" (12:30 p.m.), "Astro Duck" (3:30 p.m.) and "Daffy's Diner" (6 p.m.).

Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in Mexico, who made his debut in 1952's "Cat-Tails for Two," stars in two award-winning shorts. He's teamed with a Tweety-less Sylvester the Cat for Freleng's Oscar-nominated 1961 comedy "The Pied Piper of Guadalupe" (3 p.m.) and then in Freleng's 1955 Oscar-winning short "Speedy Gonzales" (5:30 p.m.).

And last but not least, Nick has not forgotten le quel fantastique skunk Pepe Le Pew, who made his film debut in 1945's "Odor-able Kitty" and received an Oscar for 1949's "For Scent-imental Reasons."

Pepe spreads joie and quel odor in one of his best, 1959's "Really Scent" (2:30 p.m.).

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