Virgil Ross

Virgil Walter Ross
Born (1907-08-08)August 8, 1907
Watertown, New York, United States
Died May 15, 1996(1996-05-15) (aged 88)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Nationality American
Other names Virgil Ross
Occupation Animator

Virgil Walter Ross (August 8, 1907 May 15, 1996) was an American artist, cartoonist, and animator best known for his work on the Warner Bros. animated shorts.

Early years

Virgil Ross (as he was usually known) spent his early years in New York state and in Michigan, but his family moved to Long Beach, California, when he was in his late teens. This state was to be his primary home for the rest of his life.

Cartooning and animation

His introduction to cartooning was in high-school, where he took a class in that art form. Early work was done for Charles B. Mintz (later Screen Gems), Ub Iwerks studio, and then on to Walter Lantz, where he began animation work. In 1935, he moved on to work for Leon Schlesinger at Warner Bros. where he spent about 30 years, first under Tex Avery's supervision, until 1942, then for Bob Clampett, and finally with Friz Freleng. His résumé also includes time spent with such firms as Filmation (where he worked on the early 1970s Star Trek: The Animated Series), Hanna Barbera, and Marvel Comics. In 1979 he animated Woody Woodpecker for a special scene at the 51st Academy Awards.[1]

He was notably self-effacing. In an interview with John Province in 1989, he is quoted as saying "I always had an eye for movement, and I think this kept me in the business a lot longer than a lot of guys, despite the fact that I really wasn't very good at drawing. When I started out in animation, you didn't have to be a good artist. I just had a little natural talent, and it's mostly just timing anyway." [2]

Of the very many characters Ross animated, he is most closely associated with Bugs Bunny, but also did a great deal of work involving Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety, and many others, including Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. When handling long-eared characters such as Bugs or Wile E., Ross occasionally tilted or waved an ear in otherwise-static scenes. As the animator for "A Wild Hare", generally regarded as the first appearance of Bugs Bunny, Ross had a first person view of the creation of the character.

In the interview of Ross, published in Animato magazine #19, Virgil recalls (on page 17) how the character of Bugs Bunny came to be. He says in the interview, "We received orders from the story department that they needed a drawing of a bunny. We all did drawings and tacked them on the wall, and the storymen voted on them. We had one writer named Bugs Hardaway, and for some reason, this one drawing became known as Bugs' Bunny. Leon Schlesinger liked the sound of the name and told them to keep it, and that's how Bugs Bunny got his name. Years later, before he died, Hardaway tried to get some credit for making the character, which he probably deserved. But Warner Bros owned the rights to everything we created." [3]


Virgil Ross received the highest awards available in his profession: the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Golden Award (1984) and the Winsor McCay Award (1988). Three of the cartoons he had animated won Oscars: Tweety Pie (1947), Birds Anonymous (1957), and Knighty Knight Bugs (1958).[4] [5] [6] [7] [8]


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