July 27: The Birth of Bugs Bunny

July 27 is a milestone date in the history of big screen comedy. It was on that date way back in 1940 that Bugs Bunny was introduced to the world in the cartoon titled “A Wild Hare.” Okay, not really. In the sense that the animated rabbit starring in a new Warner Brothers animated short was not introduced specifically as Bugs Bunny. The unnamed rabbit being hunted by Elmer Fudd in full-on hunting regalia was not referred to as Bugs and would not be until his next appearance. Nevertheless, July 27 can be referred to in no uncertain terms as the birth of Bug Bunny.

For the rest of us, that is.

Bugs, needless to say, was birthed well before July 27, 1940 for those who created him. But is an iconic character who is as much as a part of the history of American comedy really born until he is accepted by the public at large? The argument speaks for itself.

July 27, therefore, becomes a date that in many ways is as important an anniversary for American citizens as July 4. But only because the Declaration of Independence was not really signed on that date. At least, not by most.

Ask most people to identify a portrait of any signer of the Declaration of Independence aside from Franklin or Jefferson and then ask them to identify the character in “A Wild Hare” and you are likely to find that a supremely larger majority can do the latter than the former. Even though our very first introduction to the wascally wabbit we would soon come to know as Bugs doesn’t really look all that much like the Bugs of today. Or even the Bugs of the classic cartoons of the later 1940s.

Perhaps it says something about America that we can all much more immediately recognize a prototype of one of the most comedic cartoon characters of all time than we can recognize, say, Button Gwinnett. All I know for sure is that Bugs is a heckuva lot funnier than the Mr. Gwinnett.

Although it is arguable as to which has the more comical name.