Chuck Jones, the famous Hollywood screen artist, helped create such cartoon characters as Elmer Fudd, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Pepe Le Pew and others. But of all the fictitious creatures that appeared in his more than 300 films, his favorite animated figure was Michigan J. Frog.
Released in 1955 by Warner Brothers, the first Michigan J. Frog cartoon is about a member of a wrecking crew who finds a time capsule in the cornerstone of a large building he is razing. When he opens the old box, he awakens Michigan J. Frog, who emerges from his confined home with a top hat, cane, dancing feet and an Al Jolson-like voice that belts out popular tunes.
The demolition man quits his job and devotes all his time to promoting his amazing discovery. But the frog will only perform for the man who rescued him. Frustrated by his lack of success, the man puts the talented frog back into the cornerstone of a nearby building undergoing construction in 1956. The film fast-forwards to the year 2056. Another worker finds Michigan J. Frog and the story repeats itself-with the same results.
For years, Michigan J. Frog served as the symbol for Warner Brothers television, until he was retired in 2005. However, Michigan J. Frog has entertained Americans in a variety of different ways. To find out how (and why he has J. for a middle initial), look for the July/August 2008 issue of Michigan History. For more information visit www.michiganhistorymagazine.com or call (800) 366-3703.
For more on this amphibious crooner, check out the Michigan J Frog entry on Wikipedia and also the entry for One Froggy Evening (the cartoon it was based on). Of course, we can’t really talk about Michigan J Frog without showing a video, so here’s a video: