Oregon Cartoon Institute

Top Five Myths About Mel Blanc

In News on January 1, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Myth #1. Mel Blanc graduated from Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon.

False! Lincoln High School has no record that Melvin Jerome Blanc ever graduated. He did attend.

Myth #2. Mel Blanc moved to Los Angeles in order to become a voice artist.

False! Mel Blanc already was a voice artist when he arrived in Los Angeles. His first professional gig was here in Portland, on KGW radio, in 1927.

Myth #3. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig formed the center of Mel Blanc’s professional universe.

False! Mel Blanc’s first love was radio, and he worked steadily in radio throughout his entire life.

Caricature by Martinus Van Tee

Myth #4. Mel Blanc’s phenomenal talent was a freak of nature.

False! Mel Blanc worked hard to develop his talent. He conducted two parallel careers from 1927 to 1935: he was both a musician and  a radio performer. As a musician, he had front row seats (in the orchestra pit) to study the comic delivery of the nation’s top vaudeville comics, a group which included Jack Benny, with whom he would eventually work. As a radio performer, he spent five years performing on a one hour weekly show at Portland’s KGW, one year emceeing a radio program in San Francisco, and two years doing his own daily one hour show – which he wrote, produced, and starred in – on Portland’s KEX. He was eight years into a show business career when he moved to Los Angeles.

Myth #5. Matt Groening, Oregon’s other animation supernova (who did graduate from Lincoln High School), idolizes Mel Blanc.

Not sure! Matt Groening has gone on record stating that Bill Plympton is God.

  1. Hi there!

    My BFF (Mary Lou Wallace) and I knew Mel Blanc personally. In fact, as the result of an interview I conducted with him in 1978, we became close friends with him, which continued for his last 11 years!

    The whole Mel Blanc Project is wonderful and we applaud it! But the answer to Myth 4 is not entirely accurate. Mel actually came down to San Francisco from Portland in 1931. For the 1931-32 season, he emceed a weekly radio program called “The Road Show.” When that ended, he drove to LA. During our first visit with him, he told us on my tape recorder, “And in LA, I had a very tough time getting started in radio. I didn’t want it to be a total loss, so I got married!” With a chuckle he added, “I’m glad my wife isn’t listening to this!” Just as facetiously I replied, “She may well read it when this gets printed!”

    Mel received an offer to do his own show in a letter he received from Portland! By this time, he was in love with Estelle. So they eloped to Riverside where they were married on January 4, 1933. Then off they went to Portland! (Later they had a second–more traditional–wedding with family and friends.)

    Mel’s show in Portland at this time was called “Cobwebs and Nuts.” He was the producer, writer, and star–with much help from Estelle on the microphone and off!

    So many things happen on the other side of the country which Mary Lou and I wish we could attend, and this project is certainly one of them–among the top things! But Mary Lou lives in Syracuse, and I’m 50 miles east of there so, for personal reasons, we cannot be there. But we wish you all the best.

    If you have any questions about Mel, personal or professional, I invite you to ask them. If I can’t answer them, Mary Lou can! (This applies to everybody who reads this.)

    Best wishes,

    Walt Mitchell

  2. Thank you, Walt! I hope I have been able to make Myth #4 read more accurately.

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