For today’s session of The Bugs Bunny Appreciation Society, I surrender the podium to Premiere film critic Glenn Kenny, whose blog In The Company of Glenn offers startling revelations about the voice work done for Pete Puma, the “uber-grotesque” heavy in the 1952 cartoon “Rabbit’s Kin”:
One cartoon we were particularly fascinated by was the 1952 Looney Tune Rabbit’s Kin. It was actually one of the handful of ’50s-era Tunes we were really into, being such Golden Age purists and all, and our enthusiasm for it stemmed from one thing: its villain, the uber-grotesque Pete Puma, from whom Bugs protects an adorably wide-eyed baby bunny. The Puma had a supremely goofy voice and a habit of punctuating his sentences with an extended, high-pitched whine that my cronies and I delighted in impersonating. (We did so frequently enough that the women in our lives were soon pursuaded that our mental conditions were far more serious than they had initially perceived.) Naifs that we were, we wondered how, precisely, cartoon voice maestro Mel Blanc had come up with the effect. As it happened, Blanc came to lecture at William Paterson College in 1980 and during the Q&A one of us asked him about the Puma. We were flummoxed that he had zero recollection of the character. Had Mel gone senile? No. I believe it was Barre, who had/has a fairly astonishing expertise in recorded comedy of the late ’50s-early ’60s, who unearthed the fact that is was Stan Freberg—who also conceived The Three Little Bops for Warners’ cartoon division—who embued the Puma with the power of gnarled speech.
Stan Freberg on a Bugs Bunny cartoon! Who’d a thunk it? Here’s a little refresher:
You’ll have to read the full Kenny post to get more good stuff on Patti Smith and how Pete Puma provided him with an in just when he needed it most.