I followed that with another one of my favorites -- Daffy Duck in "The Scarlet Pumpernickel." You've heard of a movie-within-a-movie. In The Bad and the Beautiful or Postcards from the Edge or The Artist, we have a movie about people trying to make a movie. We follow Daffy through a cartoon-within-a-cartoon. He wants better material and is pitching a script idea to his studio boss.
In The Scarlet Pumpernickel, he wants to jazz up his image with the kind of action/adventure hero part that made Errol Flynn famous. There was Daffy, in a scene with Sylvester the Cat and Porky Pig. All three had dialogue. When I was a kid, I howled with laughter at that cartoon. Today, I still howl with laughter. I'm also in awe. I continue to be awed by the genius of the late vocal actor Mel Blanc.
Blanc did the voices of all three characters. Today, three actors would've been hired for that cartoon. One for each character. Blanc also voiced Yosemite Sam and -- very famously -- Bugs Bunny. Those were not the only animated characters he gave voice to in his long career. Blanc did voices and sound effects. His talents were utilized in animation, radio, on-camera film work and on-camera television work. One of the greatest thrills of my entire career occurred during my VH1 years. I was invited to tape an interview of Mel Blanc in his Hollywood home. This was in 1989 when the legendary performer was promoting a his book of memoirs, That's not all, Folks. The title was a twist on his trademark cartoon character phrase "That's all, folks!"
Then in his 80s, Blanc was frail physically but still sharp-witted and direct. He realized his contributions to the art. He'd worked hard to make those contributions. Blanc was a competitive man, aware of his talents and grateful for his talents. He was grateful for attention. This came about in conversation on and off camera. I'd seen Blanc on the "Today" show do an interview and talk about that new book. The reporter, Jim Brown, told viewers that he asked Blanc to do his famous "That''s all, folks!" phrase. Blanc told him he couldn't because of copyright reasons. In between segments of our interview, I noticed photos Mr. Blanc had displayed around his attractive and very comfortable home.
I saw an Academy Award on a cabinet shelf. I didn't recall reading that he'd ever won or been otherwise honored with an Oscar. He hadn't. Mel Blanc told me that one of his friends from the Warner Brothers animation team bequeathed his Oscar to Mel in his will. That was the only Academy Award Mel Blanc received. One left to him by a friend who died. Blanc's voiceover cartoon resumé dated back to the 1930s with uncredited work for Warner Bros. He go on to get screen credit for his work at the studio. Fifty years later, in the 1980s, he'd be a voicover legend lending his talents to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.