Happy Birthday to Looney Tunes MVP Tweety Bird! The one and only turns 80 this year and to celebrate Warner Media has kicked off global events to highlight the milestone.
Over the years, Tweety has become an animation icon not just on the small screen with the Looney Tunes shorts but on the big screen in movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbitand the Space Jamfilms. And what living person in the ‘90s didn’t have Tweety emblazoned on their denim jacket or overalls? The yellow canary has always been a fashion icon and an inspiration to artists worldwide.
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Tweety Bird was officially introduced in the Oscar-winning 1942 short A Tale of Two Kitties, in which the character debuted his catchphrase: “I tawt I taw a puddy tat!”—courtesy of voice-over legend Mel Blanc, who played Tweety for nearly 50 years. The other Academy Award on Tweety’s lengthy resumé is for Birds Anonymous, one of many Merrie Melodies shorts pairing him with his longtime foe Sylvester the cat. Bob Clampett created the first prototype of the character; originally, Tweety was depicted as a naked newborn baby bird and censors took issue with it. Credit for the feathered canary version we know and love goes to Friz Freleng.
Over the years Tweety quickly solidified himself as a Looney Tunes mainstay. He was one of the OG little guys to root for—and no matter how many times Sylvester tried to eat him, Tweety always found a way to live to see another day. Always motivational, Tweety’s constant vigilance reminds us to watch our backs and trust no cat. Tweety can be seen in classic Looney Tunes shorts, of course, but he’s also a part of Looney Tunes Cartoons, the current HBO Max series, which pay homage to the originals with hyper violent gags but are updated with eccentric modern comedic stylings.
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At this year’s South by Southwest, the first batch of artists invited to create murals for Tweety’s 80th birthday unveiled their works. Pieces from Alan Berry Rhys, Kate Dehler, and Monyee Chau can be found in Austin, Texas during the festival this month. The mural project will eventually span 30 cities (in not just the U.S., but the UK, France, Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and United Arab Emirates), where 16 diverse artists will combine their style with the timeless spunky energy of Tweety Bird. You can track all the murals here.
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Tweety on denim or Tweety on ice? With the recent resurgence of ‘90s fashion, vintage shops and streetwear brands have brought back the Looney Tunes look. We’re loving the inspiration on accessories like magnetic eyelashes from Ugly Duckling Beauty inspired by Tweety’s classic look, or a backpack shaped like the feathered icon because somehow Loungefly never misses. There’s even runway looks from designers like Alan Gonzalez, which were unveiled at SXSW, with more collaborations in the works including a line of shirts with art inspired by the anniversary murals. Those are available online at the Looney Tunes Shop. Wish there were still Warner Bros. stores around—it would be so amazing if the studio really threw it back to those mall days and did pop-ups.
Looking to Tweety’s immediate future—his official birthday is November 21—his cultural impact stretches across generations. Kids will be able to enjoy new educational show Bugs Bunny Builders on HBO Max’s Cartoonito this summer, which will feature Tweety and friends working at ACME construction—while THR recently reported that Warner Media has named Tweety an “anchor” for its Pride festivities this year.