The Everett Collection

Mel Blanc kept voice acting despite being in a life-threatening car accident

Mel Blanc was the legendary voice actor known for voicing many of the iconic cartoon characters from our childhood. He gave a voice to characters that included Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and that one wascally wabbit named Bugs.

In 1961, his iconic career was at risk when Blanc was involved in a serious car crash. Not only did the crash threaten Blanc's life, but it also threatened the lives of our favorite cartoon characters. 

According to a 1961 interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Blanc was driving in Hollywood when he collided with another car. The accident left him in a coma for several days, hospitalized for several weeks and recovering for years due to multiple fractures and internal injuries.

Blanc was initially told that he may not survive his injuries, however, he eventually regained consciousness and began his road to recovery.

He sat in a full-body cast, starting at his chest and ending at his toes, and was immobilized for months at home. Unable to leave his bed, Blanc's dedication to his job didn't stop in near-death, in fact, Blanc would still record lines for Bugs Bunny in recovery.

"I broke just about everything a guy can break in that wreck," Blanc said. "I fractured bones in my spine, arms, legs, chest and even my head. One of the firemen who extricated me from the car said he could have put me in a sack. But I don't remember much about it."

"They kept me in the hospital 70 days," Blanc continued. "That's a long time. But I'm grateful the accident didn't hurt my voice."

Many cartoon fans were grateful, too. At the time, Bugs Bunny was firmly established as a cultural icon. He and the rest of the Looney Tunes characters not only entertained fans, but they played a crucial role in shaping pop culture.

To his surprise, Blanc received thousands of letters from Looney Tunes fans, all wanting to let Blanc know they were thinking of him. 

"It's very dull lying here," Blanc said. "I have to stay flat on my back. So I just look at the view and read get-well letters. There are still about 4,000 letters I haven't had the chance to read yet."

It would be a long time before Blanc could fully get back on his feet, but he was dedicated. The crash brought new awareness to the dangerous stretch of road where the accident happened. Blanc said he was grateful the accident actually accomplished something. 

"They've already started plans to fix 'dead man's curve' on Sunset Blvd. where the crash occurred," Blanc said. "It's one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Los Angeles."

Both children and adults alike had a lot of love for Bugs Bunny, and the possible death of Blanc meant a scary future for the bunny and his friends. Luckily, Blanc embodied the resilience of Bugs Bunny.

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