While searching for a video clip I stumbled upon one that featured the late Mel Blanc – “the man of a thousand voices”. As these things do that led to randomly clicking on videos from a few of the many programmes that featured one of the greatest of “second bananas”.
Blanc was a regular with Jack Benny both on radio and television as a cast member and part of Benny’s creative team. He play everything from Sy the Mexican to Professor LeBlank, Jack’s long-suffering violin teacher to Benny’s decrepit old Maxwell automobile. Apparently the audio of the old clunker (the car not Jack) sputtering didn’t work during a live radio broadcast day so Blanc quickly imitated it with such success that it was added to his long list of characters.
Benny and he had a chemistry on stage that was one of the best in the business as this little sketch goes to show:
In the 1960s CBS tried to duplicate the success of their I Love Lucy by casting the gamine Belgian actress Annie Fargé in Angel. Though Fargé was a huge success the show rated low and only ran for one season. However it gave Blanc one of his funniest cameos in a long string of sit-com appearances:
And by the way Blanc’s name was Melvin Jerome Blank (thanks to Laurent for catching that one.)
Many people wouldn’t recognize Blanc but they’d recognize the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, Pepé Le Pew and many of the other characters from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies during that golden age of American animation.
I once had a French teacher tell me that if I wanted to get the proper cadence of French then listen to Pepé Le Pew – and that was part of Blanc’s success, he understood the rhythm, flow and stress of language. And he knew how to make us laugh:
At his request his gravestone is inscribed: THAT’S ALL FOLKS”.
On this day in 1905: Las Vegas is founded when 110 acres (0.45 km2), in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.