By BRANDIE ASHE
This week marked the sad passing of legendary actress Lauren Bacall. Earlier this week, Carley posted a lovely tribute to the late star, and today, we’re dedicating our regular Saturday Morning Cartoons feature to her memory.
Lauren Bacall may not be well-known for her work in animation, but her distinctive, sultry growl was practically designed for voice-over work. Bacall performed in several cartoons and features over the years, particularly late in her career; she was cast in a couple of direct-to-DVD animated films, including Madeline: Lost in Paris (1999) and Scooby Doo! and the Goblin King (2008), and she was also a member of the English-language cast of the Hiyao Miyazaki feature Howl’s Moving Castle (2004). In fact, two of Bacall’s final roles were in animation: earlier this year, she provided the voice of “The Grey One” in the English dub of the charming French/Belgian feature Ernest & Celestine, and she also played an old friend of Peter Griffin’s mother on an episode of the television series Family Guy.
But much earlier in her career, before she ever actually voiced an animated character, Bacall had a cartoon “cameo” in a Merrie Melodies short that also featured her husband, Humphrey Bogart, and a certain famed rabbit.
Slick Hare, produced in 1947 and directed by Friz Freleng, is one of a number of Warner Bros. cartoons driven by the strength of its caricatures of popular Hollywood stars. Indeed, various facsimiles of famous figures, including Ray Milland, Carmen Miranda (who voices herself), Frank Sinatra, and Sydney Greenstreet, pop up throughout the short. But Bogart (uncannily voiced by frequent impersonator Dave Barry) is the indisputable star, and his request for fried rabbit for “Baby” sets off a hilarious chase between old rivals Bugs and Elmer Fudd. As the craziness gets underway, Bugs even manages to fit in a reference to Bacall’s most famous line, telling Elmer, “You tell Bogie if he wants me, all he has to do is just whistle.”
And in the end, is it really any wonder that Bugs goes absolutely gaga for Baby?
The rest of us certainly did.