BEWITCHED BUNNY 1954, a Golden Age
The Warner Bros. version of Witch Hazel (first voiced by Bea
Benaderet and then in subsequent appearances, to much acclaim, by June Foray)
bowed in theaters nationwide on July 24, 1954 in the Chuck Jones directed Bewitched
Bunny. Borrowing liberally from the
Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel (as well as Snow White), Bewitched
Bunny continues Jones’ experimentation and innovation in character and
scenic design. Using simple, yet
elegant, lines to delineate the complexities of character through visual
punnery (Hazel’s head ends at the brim of her hat, who can forget those
hairpins,) Jones confidently ups the madcap silliness quotient and verbal
swordplay between Bugs and Witch Hazel*.
His unit composed of such stalwart talent as Mike Maltese,
Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris, Ben Washam and the inimitable Maurice Noble, were
equally up to the challenge of developing the stylistic and artistic
re-imagining of the animated short film.
Since the release of The Dover Boys in 1942, Jones had been
noted, and often imitated, for his groundbreaking and imaginative use of shape,
color and movement.
“When I began thinking about the character of Witch Hazel, I
first tried to imagine what the witches in Macbeth would look like, and
I decided that they were big. Witches
also have hats, and Hazel has hers. It
is an odd one. I wanted the hat to be
shapeless and insubstantial, looking as if it might explode in a cloud of dust
at any moment…Her clothes cover her body completely, and I assume that she is
the same shape as the outfit she is wearing.
When she went out, she put on bloomers and high-heeled shoes, which I
wanted to look like a drawing rather than a three-dimensional form.”
—Chuck Jones in Chuck Reducks, Drawing From the Fun
Side of Life
Bewitched Bunny, created from an original
Chuck Jones layout drawing for the film, is the first in a series of Golden
Age Editions art from Chuck Jones that will celebrate, in limited
edition and a variety of media, cartoons created by Jones during the
1950s. Estate signed in gold ink along
with the hand signature of June Foray, this edition features a background
created from an original used in the production of Bewitched Bunny.
*Witch Hazel is the name of a North American shrub from
which a medicinal brew and an alcohol-based rub is made.