Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 22, 2004
At the end of Hurdy Gurdy Hare (McKimson, 1950), as Bugs and Gruesome Gorilla are raking in a fortune from a hurdy-gurdy, Bugs says “I hope Petrillo doesn’t hear about this!”
Bugs is referring to James C. Petrillo, the imperious head of the American Federation of Musicians, a musicians’ union. Petrillo lead numerous strikes, one of which prohibited members of the union from performing live music on television between 1944 and 1948. From 1942 to 1944, Petrillo banned all AFM members from making records. The record companies eventually capitulated and gave musicians royalties on every record sold or broadcast on the radio. Petrillo did not hesitate to take on the movie studios as well. The studios, in the switch to sound, threw a lot of former movie theater orchestra members out of work, and Petrillo fought the studios for years over the use of recorded music in theaters. Hence the concern expressed by Bugs over using hurdy-gurdy music.