Virgil Ross

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.

Virgil Walter Ross
Born(1907-08-08)August 8, 1907
DiedMay 15, 1996(1996-05-15) (aged 88)
Other namesVirgil Ross
Frances Ewing
m. 1940)


Early yearsEdit

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 animationEdit

His introduction to cartooning was in high-school, where he took a class in that art form. He started drawing title cards for silent films before moving into animated films.[1] Early work was done for Charles B. Mintz (later Screen Gems), Ub Iwerks studio, and then on to Walter Lantz, where he began working on developing Oswald the Rabbit and met Tex Avery.[1] When Avery moved to work for Leon Schlesinger in 1935 on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series, he took Ross with him.[1] Ross spent about 30 years there, first under Avery's supervision, and then, after Avery left in 1941, Bob Clampett. Ross moved to Friz Freleng's animation unit after a year of animating for Clampett, as according to him, he claimed to be uncomfortable around Bob because he felt that his animation/drawing hasn’t met his expectations.[2] Ross would spend his career with Friz for many years to come, animating some of Freleng’s most renounced shorts. In 1944, Schlesinger sold the company and it became Warner Bros. Cartoons.

Of the very many characters Ross animated, he is most closely associated with Bugs Bunny. As the animator for A Wild Hare (1940), generally regarded as the first appearance of Bugs Bunny, Ross had a first person view of the creation of the character. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.[3][1]

In the interview of Ross, published in Animato magazine #19, Ross recalled 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." [4]

He also did a great deal of work involving Daffy Duck, Yosemite Sam, Tweety, and many others, including the Rudy Larriva-directed Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote shorts. When handling long-eared characters such as Bugs or Wile E., Ross occasionally tilted or waved an ear in otherwise-static scenes.

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.[5]

He was known as being 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." [6]


Virgil Ross received the highest awards available in his profession: the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Golden Award (1984) and the Winsor McCay Award (1988). Four of the cartoons he had animated won Oscars: Tweety Pie (1947), Speedy Gonzales (1955), Birds Anonymous (1957), and Knighty Knight Bugs (1958).[1][7][8][9][10][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e Reuters (May 24, 1996). "Obituaries". Daily Variety. p. 11.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "1940 academy awards". Retrieved 2007-09-20.
  4. ^ "Animato!, no. 19 (1989), Province, John. "Termite Terrace Tenancy: Virgil Ross Remembers". p. 19". Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Animato!, no. 19 (1989), Province, John. "Termite Terrace Tenancy: Virgil Ross Remembers". p. 19". Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  7. ^ "Animato!, no. 19 (1989), Province, John. "Termite Terrace Tenancy: Virgil Ross Remembers". pp. 16-19". Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  8. ^ "Animation Guild Golden Honorees, 1984-2005". The Animation Guild. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  9. ^ Canby, Vincent. "NY TImes biography of Virgil Ross". New York Times. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  10. ^ "Clampett Studio biography of Virgil Ross". Clampett Studio. Archived from the original on December 15, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  11. ^ "AWN Virgil Ross obituary". Animation World Network. Retrieved 2007-11-14.

External linksEdit