A Wild Hare (re-released as The Wild Hare) is a 1940 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies animated short film. It was produced by Leon Schlesinger Productions, directed by Tex Avery, and written by Rich Hogan. It was originally released on July 27, 1940. A Wild Hare is considered by most film historians to be the first “official” Bugs Bunny cartoon. The title is a play on “wild hair”, the first of many puns between “hare” and “hair” that would appear in Bugs Bunny titles. The pun is carried further by a bar of I’m Just Wild About Harry playing in the underscore of the opening credits. Various directors at the Warner Bros. cartoon studio had been experimenting with cartoons focused on a hunter pursuing a rabbit since 1938, with varied approaches to the characters of both rabbit and hunter.
A Wild Hare is noteworthy as the first true Bugs Bunny cartoon, as well as for settling on the classic voice and appearance of the hunter, Elmer Fudd. Although the animators continued to experiment with Elmer’s design for a few more years, his look here proved the basis for his finalized design. The design and character of Bugs Bunny would continue to be refined over the subsequent years, but the general appearance, voice, and personality of the character were established in this cartoon. The animator of this cartoon, Virgil Ross, gave his first-person account of the creation of the character’s name and personality in an interview published in Animato! Magazine, #19, copyright 1989 Pixar.
Bugs is unnamed in this film, but would be named for the first time in his next short, Elmer’s Pet Rabbit, directed by Chuck Jones. The opening lines of both characters—”Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits” for Elmer, and “Eh, what’s up Doc?” for Bugs Bunny—would become catchphrases throughout their subsequent films.