Exclusive: Mel Blanc's son shares how Bugs Bunny saved his father's life during coma
The podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz takes us back to a near-tragic moment for the Looney Tunes icon — and how his greatest character got him through it.
With nearly every bone broken in his body, they thought he was lost. But Bugs Bunny wasn't going to let that happen.
We're not talking an episode of Looney Tunes. This isn't fiction. This is the life of iconic voice actor Mel Blanc as told in the upcoming season of the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, and EW has an exclusive clip of Blanc's son Noel Blanc recounting his father's nearly fatal experience.
"I'd say Dad, can you hear me? No," Noel shares in the clip above, part of the upcoming season set to debut tomorrow, a two-part deep dive into the life and legend of the man of a thousand voices.
Blanc, for those unfamiliar, is an icon in voice acting. He created the voices of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, the Tasmanian Devil, Pepé la Pew, and quite literally hundreds more.
In January 1961, at the age of 52, Blanc was in his sports car when a college student smashed into him straight-on, right on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Noel walks listeners through how the accident put his father in a coma for two weeks.
As Noel describes in part two of the podcast, the brain surgeons tried to find signs of life in his dad. They called Mel's name. Nothing. Then, looking at the TV above Blanc’s bed playing Looney Tunes, they instead pivoted to calling out for Bugs Bunny.
"[The doctor] finally says, 'Bugs, can you hear me?'" Noel says. To which Mel responded, “Yeah, what’s up doc?” in character.
Mel Blanc recuperated, even taking jobs while he was in a full-body cast. Twenty Thousand Hertz host Dallas Taylor fills in the blanks of Blanc's life with genuine enthusiasm, taking us through Mel's early life when he was on a mission to be a cartoon voice actor (he would go to the Warner Bros. every two weeks until he got accepted), all the way to the legacy he's left. Bob Bergen, who would go on to voice characters like Marvin the Martian in 1996's Space Jam, tells Dallas about a time he lied about being Blanc's assistant just to sit in on one of his recording sessions, to be close to greatness. Other interviews include the voice of Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron, Debi Derryberry.
Blanc died in July 1989 at the age of 81. His tombstone includes the memorable line "That's all folks!"
Listen to the clip above, and check out Twenty Thousand Hertz's two-part Blanc special wherever you get your podcasts Wednesday, April 29.
Photo courtesy of Zach Christy