"The Golden Age of Radio"
(As originally broadcast on WTIC, Hartford, CT)

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Program 53 - August, 1974 - Mel Blanc

Ed Corcoran with Mel Blanc in Los Angeles

Mel Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989), was born in San Francisco, California. His ability to create voices for multiple characters first attracted attention when he worked as a voice actor in radio. He was a regular on the Jack Benny Program in various roles, including Benny's automobile (a Maxwell in desperate need of a tune up), violin teacher Professor LeBlanc, Polly the Parrot, and Benny's pet polar bear Carmichael.

Blanc's success on the Jack Benny Program led to his own radio show on the CBS radio network, The Mel Blanc Show, which ran from September 3, 1946 to June 24, 1947. Blanc played himself as the hapless owner a fix-it shop, in addition to a wide range of comical support characters. Other regular characters were played by Mary Jane Croft, Joe Kearns, Hans Conried, Alan Reed, Earle Ross, Jim Backus and Bea Benaderet.

Blanc also appeared on other national radio programs such as Burns and Allen as the Happy Postman, August Moon on Point Sublime, Sad Sack on G.I. Journal, Floyd the Barber on The Great Gildersleeve, and later played various small parts on Benny's television show. Blanc's most famous role on Benny's TV show was as "Si, the Mexican" in which he spoke one word at a time. The famous 'si-sy-sue' routine was so hilarious that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there. Another famous Blanc role on Jack's show was the Train Depot announcer who always said the phrase: "Train leaving on Track Five for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cucamonga". What made that phrase so funny was the spacing between "Cu.." and "...camonga" -- sometimes minutes would pass while the skit went on, the audience awaiting the inevitable conclusion of the word. For his contribution to radio, Mel Blanc has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6385 Hollywood Blvd.

Mel Blanc joined Leon Schlesinger Studios (the subsidiary of Warner Brothers Pictures which produced animated cartoons) in 1936. He soon became noted for voicing a wide variety of cartoon characters, including Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and many others. His natural voice was that of Sylvester the cat but without the lispy spray (you can hear it in an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, which also featured frequent Blanc vocal foil Bea Benaderet; in his small appearance, Blanc plays a vexed cab-driver).

Though his best-known character was a carrot-chomping lagomorph, Blanc claimed he was allergic to raw carrots. No other vegetable produced the desired crunch, however, so Blanc would chomp a raw carrot, say his lines, and then hawk a mouthful of chewed carrot in a convenient wastebasket. He also once claimed to dislike doing the voice of Yosemite Sam; it was rough on the throat.

A near-fatal car accident in 1961 put Blanc in a coma, prompting over 15,000 get-well cards from anxious fans, including some addressed only to "Bugs Bunny, Hollywood, USA". Blanc reports in his autobiography that he was awakened from the coma by a clever doctor who addressed him as Bugs Bunny, and therefore credits Bugs with saving his life.

Blanc died in Los Angeles, California, and is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. The inscription on his gravestone, one of the most famous epitaphs in the world, reads, "THAT'S ALL FOLKS."

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Program 53 - August, 1974 - Mel Blanc

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