While Mel Blanc has cut down on his work, he's still active at the age of 80 (as of May 30). The guy's been in show business for over 60 years, playing in dance bands in the Pacific Northwest, conducting theater orchestras for vaudeville, singing on radio, then doing both radio and cartoon voice work, and even some movie and television work later, so his life story has plenty of experiences for him to write about.
I got a kick out of noting some of the writing credits mentioned for his collaborator, Philip Bashe, especially "Dee Snyder's Teenage Survival Guide." Mel Blanc and Twisted Sister linked by the same co-writer?!The two of them could have been more careful about some of the proofreading, though. Every time Leon Schlesinger's name is mentioned - he's the guy who first produced Warner Bros. cartoons - it's spelled "Schlessinger." And a caption for a picture of Blanc doing his Barney Rubble voice for "The Flintstones" cartoon show says the guy with him is producer Joe Barbera; I've seen pictures of Barbera before, and that's not him - that's Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone's voice) in the picture with Blanc. And I found myself wishing there was a table of contents in the front for the 11 chapters and an index at the back.
Even with those little problems, "That's Not All Folks!" is an enjoyable book to read.
It goes into Blanc being born in San Francisco and growing up in Portland, Ore., where he first began to do voices. It also goes into his supportive 55-year-long marriage to his wife, Estelle, and his close relationship with their only child, son Noel.
As you might expect, it gives a lot of inside information about how he got his Warner Bros. cartoon job, how some of the cartoon characters were created, how he came up with some of the characters' voices and what it was like working in the golden age of cartoons. He writes, for instance, about his dislike for carrots (gasp!!!), and how he had to bite on a carrot for recording and spit it out into a bucket before continuing; recording the voices before the animation was drawn; his preference for working with Bob McKimson rather than Bob Clampett, among the sever
al Warner Bros. cartoon directors; and his dislike for Clampett (I personally like the Clampett cartoons more overall than I do the McKimson efforts).
The book also tells about how he came to work for Jack Benny (and the long friendship that grew out of that), George Burns and Gracie Allen, Judy Canova and many others in radio, developing so many voice characters for them.
One chapter is devoted to Blanc's horrendous car accident in January 1961, when a big American car collided headon with his smaller English car. He even talks about the way Bugs Bunny helped save his life by bringing him out of a 3-week-long semi-coma (the doctor came into Blanc's hospital room, saw Bugs on the television screen, addressed Mel as Bugs, and Mel replied in Bugs' voice).
Just a little after this, the book relates, while he was still recovering, he launched a commercial-production agency that was later to become a full-service ad agency, run by his son Noel, with Mel Blanc as an employee. This in addition to all the resumed voice work and TV cartoon series Blanc has worked on (the series list takes up almost two full pages of the book).
Speaking of voices, Blanc has taken steps to make sure that Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and all the other Warner Bros. characters will be able to speak after he's gone. He's persuaded Noel to learn how to do the voices, and now he says the only voice Noel hasn't mastered is the one Mel himself has the most trouble with _ Yosemite Sam's. In fact, as Blanc says in the book, "Noel performs my characters so well, I could sue him."
The first sentence in the first chapter, referring to Blanc's fascination with the way people speak, reads: "Even as a child, I heard voices." As a longtime Warner Bros. Cartoon buff and radio-show fan, I'm certainly glad he heard and spoke them.