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Wile E. Coyote killed on set of Roadrunner cartoon

Posted by oldancestor on February 19, 2011

By Lacy Thundercake

Warning: Graphic Photo

Wile E. Coyote, dead at 63


LOS ANGELES – Wile E. Coyote, the only actor to ever play the coyote on the long-running Warner Brothers cartoon, Roadrunner, was killed in a tragic on-set accident today. He was 63.

The disaster occurred when Coyote ran through the wrong fake tunnel entrance and tumbled over a cliff ledge. Though the actual drop is only about 20 feet, the actor missed the safety mats and landed on a cement floor. An on-set doctor was unable to resuscitate him.

It is uncertain whether Coyote was inadvertently sent into the wrong tunnel by stunt coordinators or he simply made a fatal mistake. Warner Brothers officials are promising a full investigation.

“I don’t know how this could have happened,” said the show’s director, Elroy Jetson, himself a former cartoon actor. “We’ve done this stunt a million times. It’s just a tragedy.”

Coyote’s co-star in the show, Road Runner, also 63, was too despondent too speak with reporters, but his agent later released a statement that read, “Meep Meep.”

Despite the joy cartoons bring to millions of viewers around the world every day, injury and death are no strangers to the industry. Fred Flintstone, who died in 1990 at the age of 70, spent his later years hobbled by crippling back pain that resulted from having to lift a car made with heavy stone wheels in nearly every episode of his hit show, The Flintstones. Another cartoon star, Popeye, endured frequent bouts of kidney stones caused by excess spinach consumption.

Tom T. Cat, who played “Tom” on Tom and Jerry from 1950 to 1957 and now resides in a retirement home for aged cartoon characters in Los Angeles, recounts several on-set mishaps.

“Sometimes it was the simple stuff that was the most dangerous,” he says. “I remember one time my character was supposed to have his tail slammed in a door. The stunt men rigged the door up incorrectly and I ended up with three broken bones.”

Cat explains, “It wasn’t the shootings or the electrocutions that were the problem. Those sockets weren’t live. The sparks were added in post [production, by special effects artists], of course.”

Perhaps the most famous cartoon film set accident prior to today’s tragedy was the death of Warner Brothers star Porky Pig in 1971, who was killed at the age of 65 when an anvil (no relation to this news journal) was dropped on his head. That incident lead to a worldwide ban on anvil stunts in cartoons.

Ironically, Pig had become famous because of an anvil-dropping accident decades earlier. The portly performer had struggled for years to make a name for himself in Hollywood… until he suffered an anvil-related head injury in 1939 and developed a stutter. Audiences were so charmed by his speech impediment that he was soon given his own show, although he is probably best remembered for his guest appearances on Bugs Bunny in the 1950s and 60s.

Pig was eventually replaced as a guest performer by Elmer J. Fudd, who himself died from a shotgun blast while hunting rabbits in 1977.


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