Bugs and Elmer?!
A small series of unusual teaser ads added to the promotional build-up. The two ads shown below ran in different sections of the paper on January 17, 1953.
So who or what took the stage at the Showboat on Monday, January 19, 1953?
The early 1950s were still a little too early to mount a costumed character show like you would see later at Disneyland. Plus, a Lorain nightclub was no place for children, anyway.
As it turns out, the act was none other than Les Barker, direct from Alpine Village in Cleveland. Here’s the ad that ran on that Monday.
I’ve written about Les Barker before.
He had appeared at Midway Mall in August 1969. My family caught one of his shows, in which he drew Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd on pieces of acetate, which he manipulated to create a sort of primitive animation using an overhead projector. I even got his autograph (written on part of a Hough Bakeries bag).
Apparently that’s what he did at the Showboat in 1953, as well. As noted on blogtoonnetwork, Barker “created one novel nightclub act called “Quick on the Draw,” where he entertained audiences with a stand-up routine and an overhead projector."
For his Showboat appearance, however, Barker was billed as not only the creator of Bugs Bunny, but Bat Man as well! (I’m not sure how Bob Kane would feel about that.) As we know, Barker really wasn't the creator of either, but did achieve some lasting success and fame as the cartoonist behind Johnny Canuck.
Anyway, it’s interesting that sixteen years after his 1953 Showboat appearance, he was back in the Lorain area, still doing his shtick.
Next: The end of the Showboat