WASHINGTON -- Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and countless other animated cartoon characters, gave a sample of his vocal artistry in the 'spokesman' capital of the world Tuesday, but refused to get involved in politics.
'I don't do presidential candidates,' said the 75-year-old impressionist when invited to apply his repertoire to the current campaign.
He wouldn't even give his party preference.
Blanc did reveal, however, that he once did a benefit show in Hollywood with Ronald Reagan, and 'also worked' with the president's wife on an ill-starred entertainment venture when she was pursuing a movie career.
'Both times it was for no money,' he ruefully confided in his natural voice.
Blanc was in Washington both to commemorate 50 years of asking 'What's up, Doc?' in his rabbit voice and to present film clips and other golden anniversary memorabilia to the Smithsonian Institution.
The Wednesday night presentation was previewed at a news conference at the Museum of American History, where artifacts associated with Woody Woodpecker, whose famous laugh Blanc created, were previously enshrined.
In responding to questions, Blanc sometimes used his own voice, with middle-register intonations he likened to that of Sylvester the Cat, and sometimes employed the sputters and stutters he has given to cartoon creatures.
He estimated he can contort his throat with more than 400 different characterizations and dialects. But he firmly declined to give impersonations of either show business or political personages.
'I don't like to copy people,' Blanc told about 30 reporters and cameramen in the museum's Presidential Reception Suite.
What he does like to do is demonstrate his figmentary versatility. During the course of the news conference, he articulated many of the cartoon voices he has created during the past half-century.
His screen and television credits include Daffy Duck, Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Speedy Gonzales, Pepe LePew and Barney Rubble of 'The Flintstones.'
In one voice or another, Blanc recalled his school days in Portland, Ore., where 'I got great laughs and lousy grades.'
He also reminisced about the early days of radio, including guest appearances on the Jack Benny show and with Humphrey Bogart, then a radio comedian.
Accompanied and prompted by his son Noel, Blanc, who is nearly bald and sports a gray mustache, disputed assertions that modern cartoons shown on television shows for youngsters are overly violent.
'Did you ever see anybody get killed in a cartoon?' he asked.
Blanc said he once tried adding a moral message to some records he was cutting and discovered from the slumping sales that 'Kids don't want to listen to moralizing.'
Blanc, incidentally, has recorded hundreds of tunes, among them 'I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat' and 'The Woody Woodpecker Song,' each of which sold more than 2,000,000 copies.
After demonstrating how to imitate a goldfish and a horse whinny with an English accent, Blanc indicated with the classic Porky Pig closing how he might end news conferences if he were a White House correspondent.
It wasn't the traditional 'Thank you, Mr. President' that he uttered.
'Th-th-th-that's all, folks!' he said.