Monday, July 07, 2014

This Week in Television History: July 2014 PART II

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

July 10, 1989
Mel Blanc died.

"Speechless" was originally rendered by animation director, Darryl Van Citters.

Mel Blanc began smoking cigarettes when he was 9 years old. He continued his pack-a-day habit until he was diagnosed with emphysema, which pushed him to quit at age 77. On May 19, 1989, Blanc was checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by his family when they noticed he had a bad cough while shooting a commercial; he was originally expected to recover. While sleeping in his hospital bed, Blanc accidentally fell and broke his femur resulting in fat embolism in the brain. 
He died on July 10 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California at the age of 81. He was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. Blanc's will stated his desire to have the inscription on his gravestone read, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS" (the phrase was a trademark of Blanc's character Porky Pig).
Blanc is regarded as the most prolific voice actor in the history of the industry. He was the first voice actor to receive on-screen credit.
Blanc's death was considered a significant loss to the cartoon industry because of his skill, expressive range, and sheer volume of continuing characters he portrayed, which are currently taken up by several other voice talents. Indeed, as movie critic Leonard Maltin once pointed out, "It is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!"
According to Blanc, Sylvester the Cat was the easiest character to voice because "It's just my normal speaking voice with a spray at the end." Yosemite Sam was the hardest because of his loudness and raspyness.
A doctor who once examined Blanc's throat found that he possessed unusually thick, powerful vocal cords that gave him an exceptional range. The doctor reported that they rivaled only those of famed opera singer Enrico Caruso.
After his death, Blanc's voice continued to be heard in newly released productions, such as recordings of Dino from The Flintstones in the 1994 live-action film based on the series and its sequel. Archive recordings of Blanc's performance as the Maxwell automobile from The Jack Benny Program were also used in the 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action. More recently, archive recordings of Blanc have been featured in new CGI-animated Looney Tunes theatrical shorts; I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat (shown with Happy Feet Two) and Daffy's Rhapsody (shown with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island).
Blanc trained his son Noel in the field of voice characterization. Although the younger Blanc has performed his father's characters (particularly Porky Pig) on some programs, he has chosen not to become a full-time voice artist.
For his contributions to radio and animation, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Boulevard. His character Bugs Bunny also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (the only others to have received this honor are Walt Disney as both himself and Mickey Mouse; Jim Henson as both himself and Kermit the Frog; and Mike Myers as both himself and Shrek).

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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