Seventy-two years ago today – on July 27th, 1940 – Bugs Bunny appeared in Tex Avery’s A Wild Hare. The Warner Bros. short is widely considered to be the first definitive Bugs Bunny cartoon, in which the character’s appearance, personality and voice gelled as a whole. It’s also the first time Bugs, voiced by the inimitable Mel Blanc, uttered his famous catchphrase, “What’s up, doc?”
All the major players involved with the production of A Wild Hare are dead except for one individual: 94-year-old Bob Givens. He was the character designer who redesigned the studio’s clumsy-looking rabbit character into the familiar design below. You’ll notice that Givens calls the character “Tex’s Rabbit” because they hadn’t officially christened him Bugs Bunny yet.
Bob can also claim responsibility for redesigning Elmer Fudd into the recognizable character that we know today. He speaks about working on A Wild Hare in this interview conducted by animation historian Steve Worth and animators Will Finn and Mike Fontanelli: