Mel Blanc #atozchallenge

Continuing through our daily tour through the alphabet, today we discuss a man I’ve admired for years, and who we wouldn’t be talking about today if he hadn’t changed his name…

Mel BLANC


Mel Blanc, from 1959. Public Domain, from Wikipedia

Mel Blanc was “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” having supplied the voice for almost all the Warner Brothers cartoon characters, with the notable exception of Elmer Fudd (Arthur Q. Bryan provided Elmer’s voice until his death in 1959; Blanc took over for him afterwards). Later, he did voices for Hanna-Barbera (he provided Barney Rubble’s voice on The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely’s voice on The Jetsons), and supplied vocal effects for MGM’s Tom And Jerry, a cartoon created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. He also provided vocal effects on Jack Benny’s radio show and showed up on Jack’s TV show in the Fifties and Sixties.

He was born Mel Blank in San Francisco, and later moved to Portland, Oregon, where he graduated from Lincoln High school. As I said, had he not changed his name to Blanc when he started out in the industry, I wouldn’t be talking about him, because he wouldn’t fit my theme.

At one time, I had given some thought (not too serious) about becoming a voice actor like Mel, but I gave it up when all my characters sounded the same. When I listen to him now, I realize that all he did was to change his voice slightly for each character, and that they all sounded similar. What was amazing was the way he could play two different characters in the same cartoon and give each one a slightly different personality. An example is between Foghorn Leghorn and his nemesis, Henery the Chicken Hawk…

Or Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam…

Here’s Mel in a commercial for American Express.

Mel died in 1989 of heart disease and emphysema, but leaves behind a legacy for countless other voice actors to emulate.

Tomorrow, we start with “C” and end with “D.” See you then!

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

34 thoughts on “Mel Blanc #atozchallenge”

  1. John,

    I don’t know how we survived childhood watching the shenanigans of Bugz Bunny and the rest of the Looney Toon Characters. Tha Mel Blanc was one talented guy. Early on in my blogging life, I met a gal who was related to the late Mel Blanc. I’m not sure how I lost touch with her but I reckon with like so many bloggers who come and go then that’s what happened. I enjoyed watching the vintage cartoon clips and the American Express commercial. Thanks for making me smile. Bravo on choosing a brilliant subject to share with the A2Zers!

    Everyone is invited to check out today’s letter prompt “B” (for boys) in my latest edition of#AprilA2Z Art Sketching through the Alphabet!

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  2. What a wonderful post! He truly was an amazing man, wasn’t he? I have a friend is taking voice acting classes. I am amazed at how hard it is to get things just right, to have to fit the words in a certain time limit like for commercials. But she loves it!

    Calen~
    Impromptu Promptlings
    A to Z Challenge Letter B

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    1. If you ever see episodes of the old Jack Benny Show, he showed up pretty regularly there, but as a rule, he stayed off-camera. I looked into being a voice actor at one time, but really never made much of it. My brother has a friend from high school who’s been doing it for years, mostly because his work in front of the camera was limited. It is a lot of work, and not as easy as it sounds.

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    1. We did actually sit for hours and watch the old Warner Brothers cartoons. The originals were not made for kids, but they showed them to us, anyway. An important part of growing up…

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  3. Those were the good cartoons. The stupid stuff on TV now is cringeworthy – well, I should say the late night stuff is. I don’t watch cartoons much now that the kids are grown. Nice one, John!

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    1. Voice acting is much harder than people think it is. I took a class on doing voiceovers and that was hard enough; matching your words to a cartoon’s mouth movements is that much harder. And Mel Blanc was just amazing. He’s doing all the voices in both cartoons, so he’s not just changing his voice, he’s changing character as well.

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  4. What a trip down memory lane. It’s fantastic that his name fit your theme!

    Trudy @ Reel Focus
    Food in Film: Butter

    By the way… thanks for your help with creating clickable links. I think I finally figured out what I was doing wrong earlier… I had the codes you shared copied and pasted into a regular word document, so even though I had all the elements, when I would paste them into a comment form, they would come out wonky. So, I read your instructions again, and realized you said to use Notepad, so I looked up the mac equivalent and pasted them into TextEdit… now they work!

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    1. I figure if I think it’s funny, others will, too. And that is some of the funniest stuff I ever heard. Warner Brothers (all the cartoon companies, really) weren’t out to make any major statements, they wanted to make people laugh.

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  5. Blanc was such a talented guy. One of my favorite Blanc characters on The Jack Benny Show was Sy the Mexican guy. I’m sure it’s considered very politically incorrect now, but I don’t care–those skits were hilarious.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  6. Mel was a talented guy and his son did some voice work too. One of my hobbies is collecting old radio shows and I found that he had his own show rather creatively titled The Mel Blanc Show. It was a little corny, as were all the radio shows back then, but was another interesting showcase of his talent.

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    1. Those old performers were entertainers first. It’s why so many remained popular well into their later years. The stuff was funny. Not socially relevant, not especially sophisticated, but funny. It was there to make you laugh.

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  7. Cool theme, must not be easy to come up with something for some of the letter combos. Way to make it interesting for you! 😉
    I haven’t heard of him before (or some of those cartoons) but he sounds like a very talented man! Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He was a very talented guy to be able to switch between Bugs and Yosemite Sam, or Foghorn Leghorn and Henery the chicken hawk, or any of the other characters he voiced in the same cartoons (Bugs and Daffy, Sylvester and Tweety, etc.). Each one of those characters had a different voice AND a different personality. He could slip out of one character’s “skin” and into another’s effortlessly.

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