Rabbits we have known and loved

April 10, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

The bunny trail is getting a little crowded these days. Besides the Easter Bunny, who'll be hiding colored eggs around town tonight, there are quite a few rabbits hopping around in our lives.

Here's who's who in the hutch:

Energizer bunny: First showed up as the spokesbunny for Eveready batteries in 1989 after the company had spent two years and $55 million developing his profitable pinkness -- sales last year were $1.79 billion. Yes, he's called "E. B." by his PR department.

Volkswagen Rabbit: The carmaker's post-Beetle design, its first water-cooled, front-engine, front-wheel-drive vehicle. Rabbits were brought on board because Beetles were too expensive to make and because they weren't going to meet emission standards, no matter what they did to them.

Bugs Bunny: Arrived on the animated short scene in 1938. This wisecracking, hip, gray rabbit won an Oscar in 1958 for doing what he does best: gnawing a carrot and asking "What's up, Doc?"

Playboy bunnies: Hugh Hefner's idea of a good time, circa 1953, when he launched Playboy magazine from his Chicago living room. In his clubs, the uniform consisted of stiff satin bodysuits, powder-puff tails, fishnet stockings, mules.

Peter Rabbit: Hit the popular trail in 1902 with the publication of Beatrix Potter's "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." Disobeyed his mother, ate the wrong foods, bothered his neighbors, lost his clothing, yet managed to steer clear of being the main ingredient in a pie.

Roger Rabbit: Steven Spielberg's 1988 leading man, the wild and crazy hare proved short guys could marry well and single-handedly revitalize the brand-new computer-driven animation industry, all while grossing $154 million. Who's a dumb bunny now?

The Carter attack rabbit: A brouhaha arose after then-President Jimmy Carter reported that on Jan. 29, 1979, a rabbit swam toward him while he was fishing, attacked him but ceased when the native Georgian took a canoe paddle to the critter. He said it wasn't funny at the time.

Br'er Rabbit: The most famous character to come out of Joel Chandler Harris' 1880 "Uncle Remus," he outwitted with chicanery and street smarts.

Bunny Rabbit: Lived behind Captain Kangaroo's counter, this nearsighted, carrot-mooching sidekick let Mr. Moose do the talking for both of them.

Carnivorous killer rabbit: Guarded the Holy Grail, at least during the time when Monty Python was looking for it.

Easter Bunny: A likely throwback to pagan rituals, but they never wrote stuff down, so we don't really know. He/she got permanently attached to the Easter celebration just after the Civil War.

Echo and the Bunnymen: A post-punk English rock band that never bothered to tell anyone where they got their name. Now no one cares.

Eddie Rabbitt: The 48-year-old native New Yorker and country singer's real name, no less, which he changed once to Martin because he got kidded so much. Of "I Love a Rainy Night" and "Driving My Life Away" fame.

Fletcher Rabbit: A friend to Kukla, Fran & Ollie, circa 1949.

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail: The sisters Rabbit. Flopsy married Benjamin Bunny and cleaned house a lot. Mopsy and Cottontail, alas, did not marry anyone famous. All were goody four-shoes, compared to Peter.

Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom: Appetite-driven, all-American anti-hero of John Updike's four-novel series, which began with "Rabbit Run" in 1960 and culminated in "Rabbit at Rest," a Pulitzer Prize-winner in 1991.

Harvey: Jimmy Stewart's tall but vague pal in the 1950 movie based on the stage play in which the rabbit had the title role.

The "Life in Hell" rabbits: The one-eared one is named Bongo, his father is Binky, they have friends named Jeff and Akbar and were all created by cartoonist Matt Groening, who patterned the rabbits after a friend of his in college and who decided to give Bongo only one ear so he could tell father and son apart.

The March Hare: Cohosted a famous tea party.

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The thin-eared and not-too-successful counterpunch to Disney's Mickey Mouse, offered up by Universal Studios in 1934.

Peter Cottontail: Fresh on the scene in 1950 in the children's tune "Here Comes Peter Cottontail," he hopped down the bunny trail, thrilled apparently by the impending jelly beans, bonnets and stuff due to come his way on Easter.

Rabbit: A. A. Milne introduced him to Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too, in 1926.

Rabbit Maranville: Baseball Hall of Famer who played for Boston, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Chicago and St. Louis between 1912 and 1935. His real name was Walter.

Thumper: An entertaining bunny, started out life as Friend Hare to Bambi, got renamed by Walt Disney in 1942 because, in Walt's world, fun names were de rigueur.

The Velveteen Rabbit: A beloved and well-worn bunny and the title guy of the 1958 Margery Williams book, he helps a sick child by getting real.

The "Watership Down" rabbits: From Richard Adams' 1974 allegory about habitat destruction and anarchy. No truth to the rumor it's a parable for our time.

The White Rabbit: Lewis Carroll's idea of a guy Alice would follow anywhere, he led Alice down the rabbit hole and to a Wonderland tea party, all the while whining about "being late for an important date," circa 1865.

The (other) White Rabbit: Grace Slick's pal did not have ears.

And don't forget: Welsh rabbit, Bunny and the Wailers, the "Pets or Meat" rabbits, Crusader Rabbit, Little Bunny Foo-Foo, Bunny Olsen (girlfriend of Sgt. Vince Carter, nemesis of Gomer Pyle), Bucky O'Hare, the Trix rabbit, the Cadbury bunny.

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