Why Jessica Rabbit is An Iconic Character?

March 20, 2019

 Jessica Rabbit is a character, fictional character in Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and its film adaptation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. She is depicted as Roger’s toon wife in various Roger Rabbit media. Jessica is known as one of the sex symbols in animation. She is also famous for the line: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.”

How it All Started

Author Gary K. Wolf based Jessica on the cartoon character Red from Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood. The film version of the character was inspired by many actresses. Richard Williams said, “I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth; we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and Zemeckis kept saying, ‘What about the look Lauren Bacall had?‘” He depicted that combination as an “ultimate male fantasy, drawn by a cartoonist.” Before Robert Zemeckis was brought on board (as director), Jessica had a different look, and was to be voiced by Russi Taylor. When Zemeckis was hired, he brought Kathleen Turner to voice Jessica, whom he had worked within Romancing the Stone. Turner, who went uncredited, accepted the role because she was pregnant and “just had to show up and do her voice.”

Character synopsis – The immoral up-and-coming Star

In the novel, Jessica was an immoral star, and former comic character with whom her estranged husband became obsessed. She is re-imagined in the film as a sultry, but moral, a singer at a Los Angeles supper club called The Ink and Paint Club. She is one of the suspects in the framing of her husband, who is a famous cartoon star accused of murder. She is voiced by Kathleen Turner, and she was actually uncredited for her role. Amy Irving was cast to sing “Why Don’t You Do Right?” for Jessica’s first scene in the movie. According to animation director Richard Williams, other than being a feisty-redhead female human toon temptress, she deeply loves her husband Roger. She even calls him her “honey-bunny” and “darling.” She claims that he makes her laugh, is a better lover than a driver and that he’s “better than Goofy” after Roger attempts to save her from Judge Doom and the Toon Patrol. As proof of her love, she tells Eddie that she’ll pay any price for Roger and she even helps prove him innocent by helping in the investigation.

Even though she’s a human Toon, she is shown to have a few of the comedic cartoon antics typical of other Toons. One such example was her cleavage having a hammerspace ability, as one of the weasels searched her for Marvin Acme’s last will and testament, only to comically get his hand caught in a bear trap, with Valiant commenting on the event with a pun . Another could be her restrained “wild take” seeing Judge Doom’s scheme involving the Dip, while a subtle effect was added by animator Russell Hall: The bounce of Jessica’s bosom was reversed from that of a real woman so that it would bounce up when a real woman’s breasts bounce down and vice versa. Furthermore, when she blows kisses the lip-kisses are also done in a cartoonish style.

After the film, Jessica also appeared in the Roger Rabbit/Baby Herman shorts Tummy Trouble as a nurse, Roller Coaster Rabbit as a damsel in distress, and Trail Mix-Up as a park ranger. In Tummy Trouble and Roller Coaster Rabbit, she made no impression. But in Trail Mix-Up, Roger fantasizes over her, calling her a “babe in the woods” and panting like a dog. She also appeared frequently in the Roger Rabbit comic book series, and she had her own feature in most issues of Roger Rabbit’s Toontown such as “Beauty Parlor Bedlam,” where she comes face to face with female weasel counterpart, Winnie.

Though Jessica didn’t physically appear in the Disney film Aladdin and the King of Thieves, a cardboard cut-out of her body was visible for a few seconds while Genie was picking wedding dresses for Princess Jasmine, to which he did the Wolf-whistle. She was mentioned in the 1991 Tiny Toon Adventures episode “New Character Day,” while her legs were briefly seen out a limo door in the episode “Buster and Babs Go Hawaiian.”

Legacy and the Jessica Rabbit Store

With the success of the film and upon the opening of Disney’s Hollywood Studios on May 1, 1989, the film’s characters featured prominently in the company. After taking the Studio Backlot Tour, various props decorated the streets including two different photo opportunities with Jessica: a glittery cardboard cutout and “The Loony Bin” photo shop which allowed you to take pictures in costume standing next to an actual cartoon drawing of characters from the film. There was also a plethora of merchandise including Jessica Rabbit rub-on stickers called “pressers”. The Jessica Rabbit Store, entitled “Jessica’s”, was once part of Pleasure Island, Disney’s nightclub attraction and shopping area. The store included a giant two-sided neon Jessica sign with sequined dress and swinging leg and featured nothing but Jessica Rabbit merchandise. The store closed in 1992.

Her line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” became one of the most popular quote from the film, and was nominated as one of the 400 greatest movie quotes by AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, ultimately failing to make the final list. Jessica Rabbit was named number six on Empire’s list of the 50 Best Animated Movie Characters in 2010.

Kathleen Turner, the speaking voice of Jessica Rabbit, stated in an interview that she is asked more often to sign photos of Jessica Rabbit than herself. She was also ranked as the sixth greatest animated character by the same magazine stating that “there’s more to her than just the sort of lines that would clean sweep America’s Next Top Model. There’s a pure heart and ready wit beneath that magnificent exterior.” Internet Movie Database had a poll that ranked her as the most alluring Disney character according to votes from audiences of the page.

Controversy With Nudity of Jessica Rabbit

With the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in Laserdisc, Variety first reported in March 1994 that observers uncovered several scenes of antics from the animators that supposedly featured brief nudity of Jessica Rabbit in the film. While undetectable when played at the usual rate of 24 film frames per second, the Laserdisc player allowed the viewer to advance frame-by-frame to uncover these visuals. Whether or not they were actually intended to depict the nudity of the character remains unknown. Many retailers said that within minutes of the Laserdisc debut, their entire inventory was sold out. The run was fueled by media reports about the controversy, including stories on CNN and various newspapers.

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