Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Looney History of Witch Hazel

Happy Halloween fellow cartoon lovers. On a day like this there is only one cartoon character to discuss and of course that is Witch Hazel from the classic Looney Tunes films (she was not used in a Merrie Melodie oddly enough). Today I will provide you with a brief and basic history of cartoondom's favorite witch.

Even with how well remembered and beloved this character is today she was only actually in 4 of the classic cartoons. The first of these was a 1954 Chuck Jones cartoon called Bewitched Bunny. Despite the fact that today we remember her being voiced by June Foray. Instead here she was voiced by Bea Benaderet. This cartoon was a parody of Hansel and Gretel. Bugs Bunny sees that the witch is planning to eat the children. Bugs saves Hansel (Hansel?) and Gretel but Witch Hazel decides instead to eat Bugs. Her next appearance would be a 1956 cartoon Broomstick Bunny also directed by Chuck Jones. This was the first time she was voiced by June Foray however it was not the first time June Foray voiced a cartoon witch named Witch Hazel. She had previously voiced a character with the same name in the 1952 Donald Duck short Trick or Treat in that film Donald gives his nephews a trick instead of a treat. With this a much more kind Witch Hazel get her revenge on Donald using magic. This was also not the only time June Foray would replace Bea Benaderet as the voice of a Looney Tunes character. She had also done the same with Granny, who Foray had just voiced for the first time the year before in This is a Life?. In Broomstick Bunny Bugs Bunny goes trick or treating dressed as a witch. Witch Hazel takes great pride in her ugliness and asks her mirror who is the ugliest of all is happy whenever it answers she is. However when Bugs knocks on the door, the mirror tells her "that creep" is uglier than she. Witch Hazel decides something must be done about this. Her next film was her first time not being directed by Chuck Jones with 1959's A Witch's Tangled Hare. This cartoon was instead directed by Abe Levitow. Abe Levitow had been one of Chuck's main animators and even co-directed some of Chuck's later films for Warner Brothers. After Chuck left the studio, Levitow would take over the director's chair for a few cartoons. These cartoons would feature Chuck's usual team of animators and writers,, as this one does. In this short Bugs and Witch Hazel fight using many references to Shakespeare's plays and with a Shakespeare wannabe watching. The last of her classic cartoons was released in 1966 and called A-Haunting We Will Go. This short was her first film not to feature Bugs Bunny. Instead her she works with Speedy Gonzales and Daffy Duck. Daffy Duck and Speedy were strangely paired together in a series of films at this time. This was just one of quite a few with this duo. Witch Hazel wants a vacation and so she casts a spell to make Speedy look just like her. Daffy on the other hand is trying to prove to his nephew that the woman in that house is not a witch. This film was directed by Robert McKimson. 

-Michael J. Ruhland       

1 comment:

  1. June, and Witch Hazel would be :borrowed" for MGM for a Tom and Jerry called The Flkying Cat,,,(?) and the studio back in 1936 did a "Happy Harmonies" titled "Bottles", one of the scariest and best theatgricals I've ever seen, with Martha Wentworth (before Foray did cartoon voices or even benaderet)voicing a bottle calld Withc Hazel, the medicine where the name started


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