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Looney Tunes Yosemite Sam

Updated on June 28, 2011

Yosemite Sam

Produced by Warner Brothers Yosemite Sam is the curmudgeonly cowboy with a passionate hatred of Bugs Bunny. He is another in a long cast of memorable characters that appears in the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoon series.

Created by Friz Freling in 1945, Yosemite Sam's first appearance was in the 1945 short Hare Trigger, the redheaded, short-tempered and even shorter-statured cowboy was a hit.

Photo used under Creative Commons from annalise.ellen

Short Hare Trigger

Created by Friz Freling in 1945, the loud-mouthed, bullying character Yosemite Sam was created specifically to rival Bugs Bunny.

Prior to Yosemite's role as Bugs Bunny's nemesis, the dim-witted Elmer Fudd was intent on destroying the rabbit. However, because Bugs Bunny was far more intelligent than Fudd and Fudd was also well liked by audiences, producers feared that Bugs may be seen as a bully.

The answer to this dilemma was to continue the plot of rabbit hating hunters, but create one that audiences would find obnoxious and belligerent against a calm, witty and intelligent Bugs Bunny. Hence, Yosemite Sam was born. From his first appearance in the 1945 short Hare Trigger, the redheaded, short-tempered and even shorter-statured cowboy was a hit.

Fiery Yosemite Sam

Although he was created to assuage ideas of Bugs Bunny being a bully to the bumbling, dim-witted Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam never proved to be much brighter than Fudd.

However, though audiences enjoyed him, he was far more belligerent and aggressive than the otherwise mild-mannered Elmer Fudd, which was unlikely to evoke feelings of sympathy for him from audiences whenever Bugs Bunny got the best of him.

Some, including Friz Freleng's own daughter, assert that Yosemite Sam was in some ways an extension of Freleng, himself. Freleng repeatedly denied such notions and, instead, cited a character in the comic strip, Toonerville Trolley, named the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang as his inspiration.

Yosemite's fiery appearance, his wild temper and his unique look also gives credit to a Red Skelton character named Sheriff Deadeye, as well as a Tom Varn character known as Bubba and, finally, a Tex Avery cartoon titled Dangerous Dan McFoo. While many different characters influenced the creation of Yosemite Sam, he is the only one that remains the clear favourite of cartoon audiences everywhere.

Yosemite Sam Resemblance

In early Looney Tune shorts, other characters resemble Sam, such as Cottontail Smith who appears in Super-Rabbit in 1943 and a southern sheriff that appears in 1944's Stage Door Cartoon. For nearly 20 years, with the exception of the 1959 short, Hare-Abian Nights, Freleng's unit maintained exclusive use of Yosemite Sam while at Warner Brothers

Yosemite Sam's Voice

Mel Blanc was the original voice of Yosemite Sam who admitted in his autobiography that Sam's voice was somewhat difficult for him to create. One day, Blanc was in an angry mood and yelled as loud as he could. It was then that he first arrived at the idea that a similar voice was a perfect fit for the gun-toting, loud-mouthed Yosemite Sam.

He further noted that he would only record Sam's voice at the end of the day when he was finished recording for any other characters, as he was always hoarse afterwards. In Blanc's final years, the voice would become too much for him and he passed the duties of Sam's dialogue on to others, which makes the Yosemite Sam voice one of the very few that was created by Blanc, but actually performed by other voice actors while Blanc was still alive.

AKA Yosemite Sam

Though Yosemite Sam prides himself on being a gun-toting cowboy, he has appeared in many different costumes including, but not limited to, a prison guard, a Confederate soldier, a knight, a pirate, a mountain climber, a duke and a space alien. In France, his portrayal of a pirate was so wildly popular that he is officially "Sam the Pirate" in that country and is frequently referred by this name even in Italy.

Looney Tunes Yosemite Sam

During the 1970s and the 1980s, Yosemite Sam appeared in three Looney Tune films and multiple television specials. In the 1990s, he appears as a faculty member at Acme Looniversity and also appears on the hit series Tiny Toon Adventures. As was a popular theme in the Tiny Toon Adventures series, Yosemite Sam also had a student mentee with an uncanny resemblance to himself, named Montana Max.

He has appeared in two episodes of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries (1995), The Warner's 65th Anniversary Special and several Mirinda soft drink commercials. In 2003, alongside a broad cast of Looney Toon characters, Sam also appeared as a bounty hunter in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, as well as enjoyed minor roles in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Space Jam. He has been further used in popular video games, including, but not limited to Loons: The Fight for Fame, Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle, Taz: Wanted, Sheep, Dog, 'n' Wolf and Daffy Duck in Hollywood. As a famed favorite in the Looney Toons cast of characters, Yosemite Sam continues to entertain audiences of all ages.

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