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Pepe Le Pew

In a series of Warner Brothers' cartoons, Pepe Le Pew (voiced by Mel Blanc imitating Maurice Chevalier or Charles Boyer's Pepe le Moko) is a French skunk in Paris in the springtime, when everyone's thoughts are of love. Pepe would like to fall in love, as well. However, he has two huge turnoffs to any prospective mates: his malodorous scent and the fact that he comes on too strong. Normally, Pepe's romantic interests should include female skunks ("petite femme skunk"), but each episode invariably revolves around Pepe pursuing a 'skunk', who, unbeknowst to him, is usually a hapless black cat that inadvertently gets a white stripe painted down her back. She does not, however, reciprocate his amorous feelings, especially since his smell is rather offensive to all who encounter it.

Chuck Jones, Pepe's creator, says that Pepe was based (loosely) on the personality of his Warner Bros. colleague, writer Tedd Pierce[?], who reportedly always assumed that his infatuations were requited.

In the shorts, "French" is spoken and written primarily by adding "le" to English words, or by more creative mangling of French expressions with English ones, such as "Sacre Maroon!", "my sweet peanut of brittle", or "Ah, my little darling, it is love at first sight, is it not, no?". The writer responsible for these often-brilliant malapropisms was Michael Maltese[?].

Maltese transcribed some dialog from the short "For Scent-imental Reasons", for which Jones was awarded an Oscar in 1949:

Skunk: (sings) Affair d'amour? Affair d'coeur? Je ne say quois ... je vis en espoir. (Sniffs) Mmmm m mm ... un smella voo feenay ... (Hums)
Gendarme: Le kittee kel terriblay odeur!! Pard'm was ... Jo-seph ... apray midi le fudge is burning!
Proprietor: Allay Gendarme!! Allay!! Return'mwa!! This instonce!! Oh, pauvre mwa, I am ze banrupt ... (Sobs)
Cat: Le mew ? Le purrrrrrr.
Proprietor: A-a-ahhh. Le pussee ferocious! Remove zot skunk! Zot cat-pole from ze premises!! Avec!!
Cat: (Smells skunk) Sniff, sniff, sniff-sniff, sniff-sniff.
Skunk: Quel es? ... Ahhh ... la belle femme skunk fatale!! Tch-tch.

In recent years, the shorts featuring his character have been more and more downplayed and even banned as his relentless pursuit of clearly unappreciative females comes across more as sexual harassment or stalking. Not that it was entirely one-sided: one cartoon ended with an accidentally painted (and now terrified) Pepe being romantically pursued by a female cat with a cold!

In the Warner Brothers 1990-1992 TV animated series, Tiny Toon Adventures, there is a female variant of Pepe named Fifi Le Fume[?] (a.k.a. Little Sneezer and voiced by Kath Soucie[?]). She shares both faults of her predecessor, but the fact that she is a sexy female character pursuing males is currently more socially acceptable. She appeared again in the 1995 made for TV Halloween movie Tiny Toon Adventures: Night Ghoulery[?]. Steven Spielberg was executive producer for these adventures.

In the French version of Pepe le Pew (Pépé le putois), Pépé is an Italian skunk with a strong Italian accent. Most of the dialog is in French, though some Italian words and expressions are also used, such as, mon petit farfalle, mon petit ravioli e pesto when talking to the cat, or c'est le moment de la mise amore.

Filmography of Pepe le Pew

  • "Odor-able Kitty" (1945)
  • "Scent-imental Over You" (1947)
  • "Odor of the Day" (1948)
  • "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949), Academy Award
  • "Scentimental Romeo" (1951)
  • "Little Beau Pepé" (1952)
  • "Wild Over You" (1953)
  • "The Cats Bah" (1954)
  • "Dog Pounded" (1954) - a guest appearance in a Sylvester the cat and Tweety movie
  • "Two Scent's Worth" (1955)
  • "Past Perfumance" (1955)
  • "Heaven Scent" (1956)
  • "Touché and Go" (1957)
  • "Really Scent" (1959)
  • "Who Scent You?" (1960)
  • The Bugs Bunny Show (1960) TV Series
  • "A Scent of the Matterhorn" (1961)
  • "Louvre Come Back to Me!" (1962)
  • The Porky Pig Show (1964) TV Series
  • Bugs Bunny's Easter Special (1977) Made for TV
  • The Daffy Duck Show (1978) TV Series
  • Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol (1979) Made for TV
  • Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales (1979) Made for TV
  • The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979)
  • The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981)
  • Bugs Bunny's Mad World of Television (1982) Made for TV
  • Bugs vs. Daffy: Battle of the Music Video Stars (1988) Made for TV
  • "Carrotblanca" (1995) - Voice by Greg Burson
  • Space Jam[?] (1996) - Voice by Maurice LaMarche

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