Yosemite Sam

Yosemite Sam

name =Yosemite Sam

image caption =Yosemite Sam in the short "14 Carrot Rabbit"
first appearance ="Hare Trigger" (1945)
created by = Friz Freleng
voiced by =Mel Blanc, Joe Alaskey, Bill Farmer (Space Jam), Frank Gorshin (From Hare to Eternity) Jeff Glen Bennett (current), Maurice LaMarche (current), Jim Cummings (Tweety's High Flying Adventure), Jeff Bergman (Blooper Bunny)|

Yosemite Sam is an animated cartoon character in the "Looney Tunes" and "Merrie Melodies" series of cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The name is somewhat alliterative and is inspired by Yosemite National Park. In cartoons with non-Western themes, he uses various aliases, including "Chilkoot Sam" [named for the Chilkoot Trail; Sam pronounces it "Chilli-koot"] in "14 Carrot Rabbit" (although in the same cartoon, when he tries to gain Bugs Bunny's trust, he cleverly invents alias "Square-deal Sam"), "Riff Raff Sam" in "Sahara Hare", "Sam Schulz" in "Big House Bunny", "Seagoin' Sam" in "Buccaneer Bunny", "Shanghai Sam" in "Mutiny on the Bunny", and "Sam Von Schamm the Hessian" in "Bunker Hill Bunny" and many others.


Animator Friz Freleng introduced the character in the 1945 cartoon "Hare Trigger". With his fiery, irascible temper, short stature (in two early gags in "Hare Trigger", a train he is attempting to rob passes right over top of him and he has to use a set of portable stairs to get on his horse; in "Bugs Bunny Rides Again", he rides a "miniature" horse), and fiery red hair, Sam was in some ways an alter-ego of Freleng. The animator often denied any intentional resemblance. However, in the "Looney Tunes Golden Collection", surviving members of his production crew assert, and the late director's daughter acknowledges, that Sam definitely was inspired by Freleng.

Other influences were the Red Skelton character Sheriff Deadeye, the Tom Varn character Bubba, and the Tex Avery cartoon "Dangerous Dan McFoo". When he does a "slow burn" and cries "Oooooh!" he borrows a bit from such comedic character actors as Jimmy Finlayson (a frequent foil to Laurel and Hardy) and Frank Nelson (one of Mel Blanc's costars on "The Jack Benny Program"). Freleng also cited the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang, a character in the "Toonerville Trolley" comic strip, as an influence.

Other characters with Sam-like features appear in several "Looney Tunes" shorts. The Bugs Bunny entry "Super-Rabbit" (1943) features the cowboy character "Cottontail Smith", who sounds a lot like Sam. "Stage Door Cartoon" (1944), another Bugs Bunny offering, features a southern sheriff character that sounds very much like Sam, except for a more defined southern stereotype to his voice. In a Daffy Duck cartoon called "Along Came Daffy" (1947), Daffy has to contend with "two" characters who look very much like Sam, one with Sam's red hair and one with black hair. Finally, "Pancho's Hideaway" (1964) features a Mexican villain who is designed much like Sam but has a different accent. In addition, in the 1949, Chuck Jones-directed cartoon "Mississippi Hare", Bugs Bunny battles with an old, pistol-toting gambler called Colonel Shuffle, one whose role could have easily been portrayed by Sam. (The Colonel reappears in "Dog Gone South", this time pitted against Charlie Dog, and accompanied by a bulldog named Belvedere, who resembles Hector the Bulldog.cite book|title=Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age|last=Barrier|first=Michael|date=2003-11-06|publisher=Oxford University Press|location=United States|isbn=978-0195167290|pages=672|url=http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Cartoons-American-Animation-Golden/dp/0195167295|accessdate=2008-03-09]

Freleng created Yosemite Sam to be a more worthy adversary for Bugs Bunny. Until then, Bugs' major foe had been Elmer Fudd, a man so mild-mannered and dim-witted that Freleng thought Bugs actually came off as a bully by duping him. Sam, on the other hand, was extremely violent and belligerent, not at all a pushover like Fudd. Freleng compacted into a tiny body and 11-gallon hat the largest voice and the largest ego "north, south, east, aaaaand west of the Pecos".

For over 19 years, Freleng had almost exclusive usage of Sam at the Warner studio. Though officially a cowboy, Freleng put Sam in a different costume in almost every film: a knight, a Roman legionary, a pirate, a royal cook, a prison guard, a duke (Duke of Yosemite, no less), a Confederate soldier, a mountain climber (climbing the 'Shmadderhorn' mountain in Switzerland), and even a space alien. The humor of the cartoons inevitably springs from the odd miscasting of the hot-tempered cowboy. However, some countries seem to prefer his pirate incarnation, as "Sam the pirate" is his official name in France [ [http://telemaniac.free.fr/sam.htm Sam le pirate ] ] and a frequent alternative name in Italy. During World War II Yosemite Sam was "drafted" into becoming a mascot emblem for the US Army Air Corps 20th Reconnaissance Squadron.

Despite Freleng's intentions, Sam doesn't prove much brighter than Elmer in his encounters with Bugs. With all his bluff and bluster, Sam stands in contrast to Freleng's calmly cocky rabbit. Sam is significantly tougher and more aggressive than Elmer Fudd when challenging Bugs. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes, and never falls for the same ploy twice. However it is Sam's own cockiness that always gets the best of him; Bugs learns to deal with Sam upon learning that he is incapable of turning down a challenge. Every time Bugs dares Sam to "step across that line", Sam can't help but do so, even if he steps off into empty space or down a mine shaft.

Another chief foil of Sam's humor is the ludicrous lengths he'll go to just to "get even" -- often with disastrous results to himself and his surroundings.

Other appearances

Yosemite Sam made appearances in several television specials in the 1970s and 1980s, and in three of the "Looney Tunes" feature-film compilations.

Yosemite Sam was one of the classic Looney Tunes characters who appeared as faculty members of Acme Looniversity in the 1990s animated series "Tiny Toon Adventures". Sam was shown teaching classes in Firearms and Anvilology (the study of falling anvils, a staple joke in the Looney Tunes genre), and was sometimes portrayed as the school principal (though at least one episode identified Bugs Bunny as the principal, and Wile E. Coyote was Dean of Acme Loo). As with all the main Looney Tunes characters, Sam had a student counterpart at Acme Loo, Montana Max.

Yosemite Sam also appeared along with Bugs Bunny in a number of Mirinda commercials in early 90s, most probably due to direct competition to Fanta, being advertised with Disney Characters at that time.

Sam also appeared in two episodes of 1995's "The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries".

In the 2003 movie "", Yosemite Sam is a bounty hunter employed by the Acme Corporation who was hired to finish off DJ Drake, Kate Houghton, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck. In this film, he owns a casino in Las Vegas, which he calls Yosemite Sam's Wooden Nickel, and is accompanied by Nasty Canasta (from "Drip-Along Daffy") and Cottontail Smith (from "Super Rabbit").

Sam makes a cameo appearance in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" He is with his buttocks on fire. He also appears in the movie "Space Jam" as a player for the TOON SQUAD. In a memorable scene, he and Elmer Fudd shoot off the teeth of one of the Monstars while clad in Pulp Fiction-esque attire.

Sam also plays the role of alien occasional guest villain K'chutha Sa'am (a parody of the Luxan Ka D'Argo from Farscape, and right in line with Sam's aggressive personality) on the "Duck Dodgers" animated series. He also appears in the video games ', ', "Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle", "Bugs Bunny: Rabbit Rampage", "Bugs Bunny Lost in Time", "Bugs Bunny and Taz Time Busters", "Sheep, Dog, 'n' Wolf Looney Tunes B-Ball", "Daffy Duck in Hollywood" and "Loony Tunes: Back In Action" the video game.

In "", Yosemite Sam makes an appearance riding a railway cart on the Wild West level.


The role of Yosemite Sam was originated by the Warners' principal voiceman, Mel Blanc. In his autobiography, Blanc said he had a difficult time coming up with the voice. He tried giving Sam a small voice, but didn't feel that it worked. One day, he decided to simply yell at the top of his lungs, which was inspired by a fit of road rage he had that day. It fit perfectly with the blustery character, but also took a toll on Mel. He always made it a point to record Sam's lines at the end of a recording session so he wouldn't have to play other characters with a hoarse voice. In his final years, it was simply too much, and he passed along the role to others (most notably Joe Alaskey in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"). This makes Sam one of the few voices created by Blanc to be voiced by someone else during his lifetime.

Blanc used a voice similar to Yosemite Sam's for Mr. Spacely on "The Jetsons".

Yosemite Sam in popular culture

In Television

*Yosemite Sam appears in the "Drawn Together" episode "Charlotte's Web of Lies". He is seen in Ling-Ling's Anger Management group with Hulk, Marvin the Martian, and Skeletor.
*In an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" to make fun of the news anchor Sandy, Ted and Marshall make him "Yosemite Sandy" by putting a hat and mustache on the tv screen during the news.
* On an episode of "Night Court", Dan (John Larroquette) is forced into impersonating Yosemite Sam by a mentally disturbed woman he's dating.
* On an episode of "Two and a Half Men", Charlie remembers his mother having sex with a man that resembled Yosemite Sam, since then, when he sees Yosemite Sam on TV, he gets nauseous. At the end of the episode, we see Jake watching Yosemite Sam on TV, much to Charlie's dismay.
*Was one of Joey Gladstone's favorite impressions in the show Full House
* In an episode of "House (TV series)", Act Your Age (House), Gregory House makes a remark on a woman whose hormonal imbalance makes her facial hair grow fast, noting that "No one runs out at lunch just to get a lip wax, unless you woke up looking like Yosemite Sam".
*On the season two "Simpsons" episode, "Principal Charming", Marge tells her sister Patty that she has to wax the mustache on her upper lip because, "...you don't want to go out on your first date looking like Yosemite Sam".

In politics

Yosemite Sam has been compared to John McCain by several writers and public figures:
* Eric Schulzke in "McCain as Yosemite Sam?" [ [http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2008/02/10/mccain-as-yosemite-sam/ McCain as Yosemite Sam? - Political Machine ] ] .
* Mark Steyn in "The Gollygamist Is out" [ [http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YTljYzkzZDExOWU4Yjc5N2RjYWZiNmQwYzFiZGM5MzE= Mark Steyn on John McCain & 2008 on National Review Online ] ] where he said "he's less like the sheriff and more like Yosemite Sam, and that doesn’t usually work out as well".

In music

Yosemite Sam is mentioned by name in the following songs:
* "Lady Cab Driver" [ [http://www.dtt-lyrics.com/albums/1999.html#lady Lyrics for the song "Lady Cab Driver"] ] , performed by Prince on his 1982 album, "1999".
* "When the Shit Goes Down" by Cypress Hill.
* "The Coalition To Ban Coalitions" by Hank Williams Jr.
* "Egg Man" by The Beastie Boys on their album "Paul's Boutique".
* "Rooting For The Bad Guy" by The Wildhearts on their 2007 self titled album.
* "Dirt Off Your Shoulder Freestyle" by Cassidy
* "Khaki Suit" by Damian Marley on his 2005 album "Welcome to Jamrock".
* "The Good, the Bad, and the Skinnee" by 2 Skinnee Js
* "Dope-A-Delic (Do-U-Be-Leeve-in-d-Flo)" by Digital Underground from their 1993 album "The Body-Hat Syndrome"

Commercial appearances

* Yosemite Sam appears on the logo of the KIJHL hockey team, the Castlegar Rebels
* Apart from cartoons, Yosemite Sam (in his pirate, "Sea-goin' Sam", alter ego) has a second career as a popular truck mudflap icon. He is shown brandishing old-fashioned flintlock pistols accompanied by the slogan "Back Off!" A 2006 Super Bowl ad showed a newly-animated version of mudflap Sam on a date with the silver silhouette mudflap girl.
* Yosemite Sam was the cartoon icon of the similarly-mustachioed Pittsburgh Pirates player Phil Garner in the late 1970s.


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