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Happy Birthday! Bugs Bunny Turns 75

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And you want to talk about staying healthy? Get this - the average lifespan of a rabbit is eight to 12 years. Bugs Bunny has all of them beat. He turned 75 this week. NPR's Mandalit del Barco has this appreciation.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Bugs Bunny is a Hollywood legend, a wascally wabbit (ph) with a Brooklyn accent.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOONEY TUNES")

MEL BLANC: (As Bugs Bunny) Who? Disassociated Press? The public has been demanding my life story?

DEL BARCO: Bugs Bunny made his official debut in the 1940 Oscar-nominated short, "A Wild Hare." Mel Blanc gave him a voice, chewing real carrots as he delivered his signature catchphrase.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A WILD HARE")

BLANC: (As Bugs Bunny) What's up, doc?

DEL BARCO: He's said to have been named after animator Ben Bugs Hardaway. From the start, Bugs Bunny was a trickster who outsmarts everyone, from the ever-exasperated Daffy Duck, to his nemesis, the frustwated (ph) hunter Elmer Fudd.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "A WILD HARE")

ARTHUR Q. BRYAN: (As Elmer Fudd) It's a wabbit (ph) down there, and I'm twying (ph) to catch him.

DEL BARCO: Actually, Bugs is just a hair older than 75, first appearing with Porky Pig as Happy Rabbit. In the cartoons, Bugs Bunny has hung out with movie stars like Bogie and Bacall. During World War II, he sold war bonds and satirized Hitler. He likes to sing and dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "WHAT'S COOKIN', DOC?")

BLANC: (As Bugs Bunny) (Singing) What's up, doc? What's cooking? What's up, doc?

DEL BARCO: Buggs directed symphonies at the Hollywood Bowl. He sang in such Chuck Jones classics as "What's Opera, Doc?" and "The Rabbit Of Seville."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RABBIT OF SEVILLE")

BLANC: (As Bugs Bunny) (Singing) Don't look so perplexed. Why would you be vexed? Can't you see you're next? Yes, you're next. You're so next.

DEL BARCO: Bugs Bunny has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a postage stamp. He's an honorary U.S. Marine, and he appears on the logo for Warner Brother's Entertainment. Mandalit del Barco, NPR news.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RABBIT OF SEVILLE")

BRYAN: (As Elmer Fudd) (Singing) Oh, where do I get that wabbit (ph)?

BLANC: (As Bugs Bunny) (Singing) What would you want with a wabbit (ph)? Can't you see that I'm much sweeter? I'm your little... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.