Mel Blanc, circa 1958 (Wikimedia Commons)
If you watched a cartoon made between 1927 and 1989 in America, chances are very good that you've heard one of Mel Blanc's many voices. Arguably the most versatile and prolific voice artist for American animation, Blanc provided voices for characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird (and his nemesis Sylvester the Cat), Barney Rubble, Woody Woodpecker, and many others. Blanc was a pioneer in voice acting, and he was the first voice actor to receive an on-screen credit for his work. We remember Mel Blanc's remarkable life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
2012: Maria Cole, U.S. jazz singer who was the mother of singer Natalie Cole and performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington, dies at 89.
According to her family, Ellington heard recordings of Maria Cole singing and hired her as a vocalist with his orchestra. She stayed with him until 1946 when she began soloing at the city's Club Zanzibar as an opening act for the Mills Brothers, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. There she met Nat "King" Cole. The two were married in 1948 by then-U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church. Read more
2007: Doug Marlette, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. editorial cartoonist who created the popular comic strip Kudzu, dies in a single-car accident at 57.
Marlette began drawing political cartoons for The Charlotte Observer in 1972. He won the Pulitzer in 1988 for his editorial cartooning in both Charlotte and at the Atlanta Constitution, which he had joined the year before. According to his obituary by The Associated Press, he said at the time that his biting approach could be traced in part to "a grandmother bayoneted by a guardsman during a mill strike in the Carolinas. There are some rebellious genes floating around in me." Read more
2005: Freddy Soto, U.S. comedian who hosted his own special on HBO and appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, dies of an accidental overdose at 35.
2000: Justin Pierce, English actor and skateboarder who starred in the movie Kids and also appeared in the movie Next Friday, commits suicide by hanging himself at 25.
1993: Sam Rolfe, U.S. screenwriter who was best known for creating the television series Have Gun Will Travel, dies of a heart attack at 69.
1989: Mel Blanc, U.S. actor who was one of the most prolific voice actors in Hollywood, voicing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Barney Rubble, along with many other characters, dies of heart disease and emphysema at 81.
Blanc was truly the "Man of a Thousand Voices." The list of cartoon characters he brought to life goes on and on… Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Barney Rubble, Marvin the Martian, Foghorn Leghorn and so many more. Movie critic Leonard Maltin once noted, "It is astounding to realize that Tweety Bird and Yosemite Sam are the same man!" Read more
1987: John Hammond, U.S. talent scout for Columbia Records who discovered and signed a diverse group of popular artists including Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, as well as producing the early Bob Dylan records, dies after a series of strokes at 76.
1979: Arthur Fiedler, U.S. conductor well-known as the conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, dies at 84.
1972: Lovie Austin, U.S. bandleader and pianist considered one of the best female jazz blues piano players of her time, dies at 84.
1963: John Sutton, English actor who had a long career in Hollywood, appearing in such movies as Captain from Castile and Adventures of Casanova, dies of a heart attack at 54.
1941: Jelly Roll Morton, U.S. bandleader and pianist who was a pivotal figure in early jazz and wrote the first published jazz composition in 1915, dies at 50.