Property from the Collection of Mel Blanc
"What's Up, Doc!" What do Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Tweety Pie, Sylvester, Taz, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, just to name a few characters, have in common? Mel Blanc.
Virtually every Looney Tunes character in every Warner Bros. cartoon has spoken to you through Mel Blanc. For sixty years, Mel Blanc's unique talent led to the creation of around 1,500 voices. It's estimated that more than two hundred and fifty million people hear him every single day making his voice the most recognizable in the world.
Born in San Francisco in 1908, Blanc grew up in Portland, Oregon, where in the course of grammar school clowning, he discovered his voice could do many tricks. Blanc began his illustrious career in 1927, on a radio show called "The Hoot Owls". A year later, he and his wife Estelle wrote, produced and performed all of the voices for a daily radio program called "Cobwebs and Nuts". Blanc became a popular radio performer of the 1930's and 1940's and co-starred on many shows. His most famous appearances were on "The Jack Benny Show" where his unusual sounds and voices included a wisecracking parrot, Benny's legendary Maxwell automobile, the sigh of a goldfish and Professor LeBlanc, Benny's violin teacher.
Blanc's cartoon career started in 1936 when he created the voice of a drunken bull in a Warner Bros. Looney Tune called "Picador Porky". A few months later Porky Pig took on Mel Blanc's voice in "Porky's Duck Hunt". In that first cartoon, Daffy had not yet adopted his famous sloppy lisp, but he was already "woo-wooing" all over the place.
Bugs Bunny's "Eh, What's Up Doc?" wise cracking was born in the 1940 short "A Wild Hare". Bugs was created as a smart-alecky "tough little stinker". With this in mind, Blanc created his voice with a combination Bronx and Brooklyn accent. Sylvester the sloppy - slurring cat ("Sufferin' Succotash"), was born in the early 1940's, as was Tweety Pie ("I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat").
Mel Blanc continually added to his enormous repertoire. Among his other Warner Bros. creations were Yosemite Sam, The Road Runner, Speedy Gonzalez, Tasmanian Devil, Pepe Le Pew, and Foghorn Leghorn. For Hanna Barbera Studios, he created the voices of Barney Rubble and Dino the Dinosaur of "The Flintstones", Mr. Spacely of "The Jetsons", Captain Caveman, the first voice of Woody Woodpecker for Walter Lanz, and many others.
Mr. Blanc's many years as a musician, conductor and voice specialist, and the requirement for precise, split seconds timing, may account for his lesser known passion; the collecting of fabulous timepieces. After years of admiration for the craft of watchmaking, Mel Blanc was given his first watch by his observant wife in 1946, a minute repeating pocket watch by Patek Philippe. From this first acquisition, he went on to collect over 500 watches and clocks and was recognized as a Fellow of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors during the 1970's.
In 1997 Christie's Watch Department in New York had the privilege to auction a substantial portion of Mel Blanc's collection to an enthusiastic audience. It is now, once again with pleasure, Christie's honor to offer a few lovely wristwatches from the Collection of Mel Blanc, "The Man of a Thousand Voices". This selection includes the fabulous reference 2499 wristwatch, detailed over the next few pages, and shown sitting on Mr. Blanc's wrist in the picture on the adjacent page.
For other watches from the Collection of Mel Blanc see lots 93, 95-97. 173 and 332 in this auction.