Warner Brothers never could have known the phenomenon they were creating when they began the Looney Tunes series back in the 1930’s. One by one, they created one iconic cartoon character after another; Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc. Today, more than 80 years after the airing for the first Looney Tunes cartoon, the group of characters known as the Looney Tunes are household names around the world. Would you believe that the purpose of creating Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies was not to have one of the largest cartoon franchises in the world, but to promote their music?
“Where have I been all your life?” – Stinky (Odor-able Kitty, 1945)
In 1945, Looney Tunes introduced an easily smitten French skunk named Stinky. In this cartoon short (Odor-able Kitty, 7:14 running time), Stinky’s love interest is actually a male cat who has disguised himself as a skunk to evade some bullies. Stinky chases the cat all around town. In the end, we find out that Stinky actually an unfaithful husband and father who is only pretending to be French (he is really an American named Henry). “Stinky” whose name was changed to Pepé le Pew, appeared in a few episodes, but was not a big hit with the audience.
“Le belle femme skunk fatale” – Pepé le Pew (For Scent-imental Reasons, 1949)
Everything changed for Pepé le Pew in 1949 with the debut of the academy award winning cartoon short For Scent-imental Reasons. This cartoon introduced a beautiful (but unlucky) black cat named Penelope. Penelope was different than Pepé’s previous loves; she didn’t speak (and wouldn’t speak until 1995’s Carrotblanca), had an attitude and really gave Pepé a dose of his own medicine. By the end of the short, the tables were turned and Penelope was chasing after Pepé. The audience loved the pairing of Pepé le Pew and Penelope.
More than 60 years after the beginning of their relationship, Penelope and Pepé le Pew are still going strong. Their older cartoons are still being viewed and more cartoons are being made for Cartoon Network. Warner Brothers has licensed tons of merchandise featuring the pair. While the merchandise tends to feature Pepé and Penelope totally in love with one another, the cartoons still display their love/hate/chase relationship. After many name changes (the black cat, Fifi, Fabrette, Le Cat, etc) Penelope was officially dubbed Penelope Pussycat by Carrotblanca (1995).
For Scent-imental Reasons (1949)
Directed By: Charles M Jones
*Note for those watching with children: There is a part in this short where Pepé holds a gun to his head, walks off camera and pulls the trigger.