On July 10, 1989, the legendary Mel Blanc passed away. As easily the most recognized and acclaimed voice artist of the twentieth century, it was a loss felt throughout the animation world. As for his own characters, his passing also created a void in their development that in some cases have yet to be filled to this day.
In addition to the personal loss, Mel's death came at the worst possible time for his signature character, Bugs Bunny. Warner Bros. was gearing up to launch a worldwide marketing campaign to celebrate the rabbit's fiftieth birthday, with a vague attempt to make the character fresh and relevant for the 1990s and beyond. Perhaps the last thing anyone would have wanted was for the character's beloved voice to suddenly be silenced. Mel had died just a year shy of seeing renewed interest in his characters, his work, and the Golden Age of animation in general. It is believed that he had not performed any voice work connected to Bugs's birthday campaign, though a fitting memorial was added to the end of a television special all about Bugs that aired the summer of 1990.
Despite being over twenty years since Mel's death, there has yet to be any one would-be definitive source attempting to list all of the characters he breathed life into. That will hopefully now change with this project.
On this site one will eventually find an exhaustive, and perhaps even living, document listing all of the known voices Mel Blanc had performed over the course of his sixty-plus-year career. The list will at first only be limited to characters performed in animated cartoons (or the few off-camera characters in live action movies), but ideally it will eventually also include a selection of characters Mel had voiced during his illustrious career in radio (it is extremely doubtful a list like that could ever be considered "complete").
This has been an idea we here at the site had been wanting to do for a while now, both out of enjoyment for Mel's work and out of the sheer fact that nobody has ever compiled any (hopefully) complete list of his voices before. There was a half-hearted attempt a few years ago to update and fine-tune all of Mel's credits and characters on the massive Internet Movie Database, but sadly the reality is that sites such as that and a certain crappy wiki encyclopedia--a wikipedia of sorts, to coin a word--are too prone to changes, reversions, and editing wars engaged by people who simply don't know anything about the subject matter...resulting in, for example, Mel being credited for voicing characters long since proven not to be him at all.
No, there needed to be a source free from user and reader edits. There needed to be a list free of doubt and speculation. The best way to present such a list is on a controlled web site, no question. Otherwise every other week someone would come popping in to "add" that Mel voiced the Road Runner or Granny or god knows who else.
This is sadly the one major problem with adult animation fans: they all want to be the next Jerry Beck, the next Milt Gray. They want to be the eventual classic-cartoon authority of their generation. But the problem is that most of the truly relevant information has already been discovered, researched, published, and at times even debunked. So fans want to attempt to look for information that wasn't there before, hoping to make the next big major cartoon fact "discovery." This is where one gets crackpot theories that Bugs Bunny came from an ugly military sketch or that Daffy and Speedy cartoons existed because the state of Arizona was solely supporting the film industry.
This project is a labor of love, so every possible ounce of care has been and will be taken in its research so that it can be done right. Each surviving cartoon will be viewed and reviewed diligently before determining exactly where Mel's voice turns up, while every credible known historic information source for the cartoons--in print or online--is being consulted in instances of doubt. The bottom line is that unless the authors are 100 percent convinced that the voice of a character is by Mel Blanc, the character's name will simply not appear. And in instances when Mel picked up another actor's role (Elmer, for example), Mel will be acknowledged solely for his time as the character or in what capacity.
This will obviously be a massive undertaking, one that may not be completed for years. But it will happen, it is happening, and in the end we will be left with an appropriate tribute to animation's greatest voice artist...the so-called "Man of a Thousand Voices." Let's see how true that claim really was.
So hold onto your hats, folks, because here comes The Mel Blanc List!
If you're truly a fan of Mel Blanc, then we are assuming you already own the lithograph version of the touching "Speechless" memorial (seen at the top left)...but if not, the print is still available to purchase from WBShop.com.