Looney Tunes are back! A brand-new cartoon short called I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat debuts in theaters this weekend. It features beloved comedy duo Tweety Bird and Sylvester The Cat, but the real star of the show is the man who made them famous.
Mel Blanc was the voice of Warner Bros' most enduring cartoon characters for more than 50 years. He died in 1989, but an original recording of Blanc singing "I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat" has been remastered for the new short, playing in theaters alongside the film Happy Feet Two.
Blanc's son, Noel Blanc, tells Weekend Edition Sunday's Audie Cornish that it was amazing to hear his father's voice again.
"I remember when he made this song back in the early '50s, and it became such a hit," Noel says. "And now it's on film in 3-D ... it is just mind-boggling."
Blanc was also the voice for such notable Looney Tunes characters as Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck. Those voices were the family business; Noel used to manage his father and once directed him in the studio. After Blanc's death, Noel even took up voicing the characters himself.
Blanc wanted his voices to be authentic, Noel says, and above all else, funny.
"They had to be real caricatures with a back-story. They couldn't just be crazy voices," he says. "He wanted them to have real personality."
Blanc even went so far as to visit real pigs to figure out Porky Pig's voice and Tasmanian devils to breath life into the infamous spitting and sputtering eating machine, Noel says. Bugs Bunny, the ever outsmarting rabbit, was modeled on the tough attitudes and accents of Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York.
Noel calls his father a method actor. He says he could watch his father in the sound booth, and without hearing the sound could tell exactly what character he was doing because he became the character. When Noel took over his voice work, he used his father's advice to in order to perform the voices.
"That gave me the idea that you have got to be a complete character and do a method acting job with each one," he says.