How Bugs Bunny saved a man in a coma

Being in a coma must be mindboggling, and it's still a mystery for doctors to figure out how people come out of it. Sometimes, it's just the strangest things that trigger recovery. Stories of people waking up from a coma, though, are fascinating, especially once you find out the full story. One such time is when a man woke up out of a coma because of Bugs Bunny.

Mel Blanc was the long-time voice of many Looney Toons characters – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird, and a host of others. Blanc was so prolific that he became the first voice actor to receive onscreen credit, wrote Hollywood Essays. He was called the "Man of a Thousand Voices," with credits for voicing several other well-loved cartoon characters, like Barney Rubble in The Flintstones.

He began making up voices at a young age and found a radio job at 19 years old in 1927. By the 1940s, Blanc appeared regularly in 15 different radio shows, voicing a variety of characters, including Jack Benny's car. Warner Bros. decided to venture into animation and hired Blanc for their new show Looney Toons. Blanc originated the character of Bugs Bunny, Warner Bros.' most prominent character, and also came up with the distinctive spit take Bugs would make after eating a carrot.

Blanc was so protective of how he voiced his characters that he persuaded the studio to regularly give him onscreen credit by 1946.

What's up, doc?

And then in 1961, Blanc was in a horrific car accident. As reported by the Terre Haute Tribune, Blanc was driving his sports car along Sunset Boulevard when a college student collided with him. Blanc was pinned inside his vehicle and had to be rushed to the UCLA Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. He'd fractured both of his legs, his pelvis, and his skull, putting him in a coma.

Blanc's son, Noel, told Radiolab his father was in a coma for a while. The family kept talking to him, hoping he'd wake up to the sound of their voices. They kept vigil, speaking, pleading with him to wake up. For two weeks, the family sat by his bedside, waiting for Blanc to wake up. Then one of his neurologists came up with an idea, explained Open Culture. Instead of talking to Blanc, why don't they try talking to one of his many characters?

The neurologist entered the room and asked, "Bugs Bunny, how are you?" There was a pause, and people in the room shook their heads. But suddenly, from the bed, "Myeh, what's up Doc?" in the same voice everyone's heard on TV. And then the doctor asked if Tweety Bird was there too, and yes, he was, replying, "I tot I taw a putty tat."

Blanc's son and doctors said it seemed like Bugs Bunny was trying to save his life. Other doctors had another answer.

That's all, folks!

Doctors concluded that Blanc was such a professional, and worked on his characters' voices so much, that his brain protected them when he was injured. The characters — Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, all of them — were very present, deep in his subconscious. When the neurologist asked about Bugs Bunny, it might have sounded like a director's cue.

It took seven more months in a full-body cast before Blanc fully recovered. True to his workaholic nature, he recorded his lines as Barney Rubble while still in the hospital. Eventually, Blanc went fully back to work. And his accident wasn't in vain, either. He sued the City of Los Angeles for $500,000. The city then fixed the intersection where 26 others, in addition to Blanc, had been in accidents.

After his near-fatal collision, Blanc continued to perform voices for several characters and started a production company with his son. But Blanc, a smoker since he was nine — despite needing to rely on his voice for a living — was diagnosed with emphysema. He developed a cough and died of advanced heart disease in 1989 at the age of 81.

Blanc so loved his characters that one of them, Bugs Bunny, lifted him out of his coma. His will stated that when he died, his headstone should say, "that's all folks."