The Surprising Way Clark Gable Helped Inspire Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny made his first true appearance in the Warner Bros' 1940 short "A Wild Hare," as Britannica reports. Fans well-versed in Looney Tunes characters and their history will already know this, of course, but the famous bunny's best-known characteristics have a very surprising inspiration: Hollywood legend Clark Gable.

Bugs Bunny is quite the carrot connoisseur and is often seen talking while crunching his way through one. While wild rabbits, it seems, don't go for the crunchy root vegetables at all, according to the RSPCA, that's never stopped the iconic Bugs. According to Mental Floss, these characteristics parody a particular scene in the hit 1934 movie "It Happened One Night," in which Clark Gable's character eats a carrot while talking quickly. 

According to Shmoop, the movie is a comedy in which Gable plays a reporter named Peter Warne who happens to meet a wealthy heiress (played by Claudette Colbert) on a bus. In one scene, the two new companions are waiting by the roadside when Warne boasts about his hitchhiking expertise and demonstrates the various methods of getting a car to stop. During all of his arm, hand, and thumb-waving, Gable's character holds a carrot and chews away on it, practically speaking through mouthfuls.

Bugs Bunny's love of carrots comes from Clark Gable's character

Biography reports that "It Happened One Night" gave Clark Gable the Oscar for best actor at the 1935 awards catapulting him into major stardom. The wisecracking, high-energy bunny came along a few years later with characteristics that were seemingly ripped straight from Gable's Peter Warne. History by day writes that Gable's character is even referred to as "Doc" in the movie.

Author and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum writes that Fred "Tex" Avery, one of the Looney Tunes animators, explained the concept behind Bugs in an interview. "When we hit on the rabbit we decided he was going to be a smart-aleck rabbit, but casual about it," Avery reportedly said.

Sure enough, Bugs immediately asserted himself as a nonchalant, lovable sort of rogue, one the audience took to just as easily as they did Gable's character. Other influences surely had their place too, but there's no doubt that Peter Warne was one of them.