The Rarest Looney Tunes of All

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For years I’ve been trying to make the case for The Bugs Bunny Show. This was the original ABC TV series which first brought the post-1948 Looney Tunes to prime time (and later Saturday morning) television. The original bridging material was directed by Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng and Robert McKimson and featured all the Looney Tunes stars with voices by Mel Blanc.

The show was never syndicated, and though prints of the original series exist (mainly in original broadcast black and white) they are scarce. The clever bridges were cut up and reused, for decades, on Saturday morning reruns. The problem is that the film editors at Warners cut up the original negatives for this purpose. We are able to present some of these bridges on the Looney Tunes Golden Collection dvd sets as bonus material, in a Frankenstein-like hybrid of black and white and color footage.

Matthew Hunter over at the Misce-Looney-ous blog has just started to post some of these lost bridges – including my favorite, the first one produced by Chuck Jones (this was the fifth episode aired, in November 1960). If you are a Looney Tunes fan, these are certainly worth a look. And until Warners greenlights a full restoration of the series, this is all we’ve got.


  • Corrado (Anthony)

    These Bugs Bunny Show bumpers have been highlights of the Golden Collections since its inception 5 years ago and I’m happy that more of these great bumpers exist.

    I’m guessing the Jones unit did most of the show while the Freleng unit did the Sylvester/Tweety bit as well as Daffy dancing (that looked to be reused animation from Showbiz Bugs) Also Daffy singing “Aloha” etc was reused from Duck Amuck. And we may have finally learned why Daffy hates Speedy now based on the ending of the show.

    So Props to Matthew for posting all these bridges!! Hopefully there’s more bridges to be unveiled.

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    My earliest memories are the CBS Saturday morning versions: The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show (Hour), which had many of the original ABC bridges between the increasingly censored cartoons.

  • http://animaencyclopedia.blogspot.com Martin Juneau

    That’s a great treausre. I rememember watching when i was a kid but it was the 70′s series. The Bugs Bunny Show first seasons are terrific and amazing!

  • Christopher Cook

    I was a pup of four when The Bugs Bunny Show started in 1960, and it was appointment TV for our family. It’s exactly how I remembered it.

    Question: If the show had aired on NBC or CBS, both of which had higher market clearances than ABC did back then, would it have lasted longer than two seasons?

  • Dana Anderson

    WOW ! I’ve always loved the original B.B. Show. I was 9 years old when it first aired in 1960 (it was black and white like EVERYTHING else on my tv then) but it was a thrill for me to see all the Warner’s gang every week, and ther was just a certain “atmosphere” about this show as compared to the individual cartoons I would see on tv and at the theater. And these shows were done by some of the masters that had been with W.B. for ever! What a great job they did. Jerry- keep the “Frankenstein -like episodes coming and tell the people at Warners that there are a LOT of us out her that will pay to have these shows restored. Keep up the good work on behalf of all us golden age fans. ( Matthew- post all of these treasures you’ve got- in the words of a well known tiger, “they’re Grrrrreat “.

  • http://portapuppets.does.it uncle wayne

    you have given me great joy today!! I have a few of the BB Shows (on 16) in, yes, b&w. They are treasures, for sure. I have always been so glad that that (network) show lasted for decades afterwards in some format or another. I think we have all forgotten just HOW MUCH new animation existed for the compilation show.

  • Dustin

    Wow, I didn’t know they had cereal treat-paks back then.

    It’s really a shame that these cartoons are so scarce, the humor is just as clever and witty as the shorts were, it’s just the production that took bit of a back seat.

    Maybe one day they can all resurface because I would definitely love to see more of these.

  • http://classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com Luke

    Wow, there were so many commercial breaks for General Foods (now Kraft) products.

  • http://www.myspace.com/brandontoons Brandon Pierce

    That “early intro” episode that Mattew posted may have been the pilot episode, but according to the show guide at GAC, it’s episode #5.

    You know, if this series had actually featured “new cartoons” instead of existing ones with linking footage, that could have persuaded WB to take better care of the negatives.

    It’s also a shame that WB couldn’t show any pre-1948 shorts. Who knows, maybe Chuck and Friz could have done new animation linking footage with Egghead!

  • Mike Russo

    Anyone noticed Daffy’s missing neck collar?

  • The Big “W”

    Did WB cut up the successive exposure negatives for these openings and bridges, or was it the “originalâ€? ABC-TV show negatives of “The Bugs Bunny Showâ€?, which were, most likely internegatives of the entire show cut? The original post ’48 cartoons had to be converted from an SE negative to an IP, and then to an IN to be edited together for the complete network package. I would guess the original openings & bridges were produced the same way…..in SE.

    “The Bugs Bunny Show� could have been edited together on interpostive (IP) stock, giving WB the option to produce B&W and/or Color negatives (IN) to produce prints from for the ABC and international broadcasts.

    Since this footage was reused for the Saturday morning show, and cut up, why would WB go to the cost of cutting up the SE negatives, when you have a “negative� of the footage you want from the “The Bugs Bunny Show� already in single strand negative sitting in the vault? An optical track that matched each show in the series was sitting there as well, and you can’t match up the SE with the soundtrack anyhow unless it was printed into a single strand negative. Since complete negatives of the ABC “The Bugs Bunny Show� are not around from what I understand, I would go out on a limb and say the original SE negatives of the opening, bridges, and closing were moved to the NUS vault in Kansas or Pennsylvania in the mid 60’s, mislabeled and inventoried incorrectly waiting to be rediscovered in the future.

    Now, if these openings were not shot in SE, and the true original was hacked up, we are screwed. If that’s the case, were did the 16mm printing negatives of “The Bugs Bunny Show� end up at? Junked?

  • http://www.cartoonresearch.com Jerry Beck

    The Big W – I’ve reserached this situation for over 20 years, spoke to the film editors personally back in 1986, and the sad fact is that Warner Bros. cut up the original Tech negs. Why they did it I cannot say, but most likely it was the cheapest thing to do at the time. No one was ever concerned about the future video release of these bridges.

    A search for all film elements has been underway for some time and, at the moment, sections of each show exist only in black & white.

    But the search goes on – and I’m an optimist.

  • Norty

    I was told by a Warners film editor that the new bumper material had been shot in Eastmancolor, not Tech. It was cheaper and nobody thought about its future release value in 1960.

  • The Big “W”

    Thanks Jerry! This is truly a mystery why they would want to cut the SE negs, when the “The Bugs Bunny Show� complete episode negatives ( color & B&W in both 16 and 35) were in the vault at that time.

    If cost were an issue, I would guess it would’ve been cheaper to pull apart “The Bugs Bunny Showâ€? negatives than going the SE route. I do wonder if any of “The Bugs Bunny Showâ€? color prints that were used for international TV were Technicolor dye transfer? The same goes for the 35mm air prints for the CBS Saturday morning show? Maybe cutting the SE negs had to do with keeping everything (the cartoons and new material) all in the same generation for printing? But then again, I too have seen some screwy cut-up negatives and wondered “what the hell were they thinking?â€?

    Glad to hear the search is still going on, and like you I’m very optimistic it will be found in the future.

  • http://www.awprunes.blogspot.com/ Larry Levine

    Between Warners slicing up the bridging animation & CBS cutting the cartoon shorts to shreds no wonder they had to pad the running time with a ton of commercials & fillers like ‘In the News’ (or whatever it was called) to fill the hour timeslot.

  • Billy Bob

    Good Luck Jerry!

    In relation to Mr. Chris Cook’s question.:

    I’m no expert but I believe it would be about ratings. ABC was a weaker station but Disneyland and The Flinstones were rousing sucesses, Flinstones in the top 30 for 3 years, Disneyland in top 20 for about two decades I think. Most likely, BB show only got modest ratings and it was probably more the of children tuning in. Hence, them putting on their national saturday morning schedule. Still, it wasn’t a major hinderence cause Looney Tunes were one of the top saturday morning shows for 4 decades!

  • Christopher Cook

    Billy Bob: Thanks for the input. CBS and NBC did launch prime time cartoons as well–CBS with “The Alvin Show” and NBC with “The Bullwinkle Show” (retitled edition of ABC’s “Rocky & His Friends”), both lasting only one season before migrating to Saturday mornings themselves.

  • Yawackhary

    Even though these weren’t aired (as far I as I know) in the UK, I found these to be enjoyable for what I saw of them. Just a shame for Warner Bros. cutting up the original colour negatives otherwise these would have probably been put together in a few years (and would buy the DVD as well).

    Jerry, since The Bugs Bunny Show was apparently aired (in colour) in Germany have you tried contacting Sat1 (the channel that aired them)? Maybe they might have some colour masters lurking somewhere (but needs restoring badly judging from the intro). Also there is a Youtube user that has a few unless you are already aware of him. Good luck anyways and keep restoring the classics.

  • Frank Provasek

    A collector on YouTube has some 1965 color ABC openings made from the 16mm color prints sent to stations not on the network hookup (eg Hawaii)

    Unfortunately, he uses a webcam pointed at a TV set to make his uploads. Still, I have not seen this stuff elsewhere..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rkmf4LWW5V0

  • http://looneytunesingermany.blogspot.com/ Daniel

    I don’t know if any of you knows ist, but THE BUGS BUNNY-SHOW ran in full color in German cinemas. I guess they made a movie out of two or three episodes. First run was in 1963 but according to the different posters available the movie was shown more often with re-runs in the 1970s. The German BUGS BUNNY SHOW contained 10 Looney Tunes.

    See:
    http://looneytunesingermany.blogspot.com/2010/02/81-bugs-bunny-im-kino.html

    http://looneytunesingermany.blogspot.com/2009/08/37-looney-tunes-im-kino-teil-1.html

    Unfortunatelly I don’t have any of the film material.

  • http://looneytunesingermany.blogspot.com/ Daniel

    @Yawackhary:

    Sat. 1 cut the German intro (and outro) when they got the rights from ZDF. When the show first aired in 1983 titled MEIN NAME IST HASE they made their own version of “this is it” with different opening and different soundtrack in German. Since 1990 this opening was never shown on tv. There were still some of the bridging scenes left but since 2005 the Looney Tunes in Germany run as single cartoons with complete new German sound and new voices for the characters. A lot of people don’t like this new version which is also available on the Warner Bros. DVDs.

    http://www.schnittberichte.com/schnittbericht.php?ID=4281578