Happy Easter, everyone. Easter hasn't been on April 1st since 1956. 1956 was also the year the Easter Bunny finally died though he'd been retired since 1948. There were still a few photos taken now and then for a magazine but he didn't make any public appearances anymore. Even by the 40s he wasn't the crowd pleaser he was in the late 20s and early 30s but in his heyday he was quite the charmer.
Fan magazines weren't consistent about his place of birth, usually Wyoming or Kansas, I think, on some farm with rosy cheeked Norman Rockwell farmers. I saw a show in the 80s hosted by Orson Welles that put his real birthplace in Arizona under far sketchier circumstances but I don't know how much those old supernatural mystery specials from the 80s should be relied on. He certainly was no natural rabbit and I don't think anyone really believes a normal bunny gave birth to him. I saw an interview with Joel McCrea from 1961 who did a photo with the bunny in 1938 and he mentioned a bad smell. He didn't mind it so much, he said, it's not really a surprise from an animal that size but the publicists and studio people seemed to have less patience for it.
The Easter Bunny was really strong, I heard they had him crushing cocoanuts for an "Easter in Hawaii" pin-up calendar, but he was really docile. He never tried to escape and seemed content to be led around but no-one liked to stare into those big black eyes too long. There's a clip where a model posing with him kind of jokes about wondering what he's thinking and she has this nervous laugh like she's really afraid to know. But the thing just sat there. They never let him pose with kids, probably because the smell would've broken the spell. The smell was something like rotten vegetables and brine and his fur, which looked smooth enough in photos, was coarse and patchy. It looked like segments sewn together for a costume but it was clearly living flesh.
In the early days, though, everyone seemed tickled by the novelty of the thing. Maybe it was related to the heedless exuberance of the 20s before the Depression but none of qualities people talked about later seemed to bother the people who worked with him in those days. But the smell didn't bother McCrea either--personally, I think as time went on the people around the bunny just weren't the sort who were used to working with animals.
Well, he may be gone but he did leave a really big egg. So we'll always have that. I saw it once when I was a kid and it came to the Natural History Museum here in San Diego. I didn't really appreciate it at the time, it just looked like a big black lump, some kind of ore. I wonder where it is now.Twitter Sonnet #1099From painted walls the paper steps away.
A wind invests the bannister with stairs.
The carpet stretched to fit a clock's delay.
A local lodge admits the wild hares.
A pair of eggs replied in purple spots.
The rabbit tongue replaced his foot to walk.
The eaten grass collects and quickly clots.
Through candy mower blades the spirits talk.
The shadow of the rabbit burned the duck.
In fires scratching clouds the time revolved.
A ghastly foot contains the rabbit's luck.
And not a peep escaped when spring dissolved.
A banner made of felted fur ascends.
The giant magnet egg at last descends.