K.R. in the Blogosphere: Did Kenneth Roberts help inspire the creation of Pepe Le Pew? Not likely.

Below is a post I wrote back in March of 2011.  I had come across a supposed letter from famous animator Chuck Jones in which it stated that one of Kenneth Roberts’ works was the source of inspiration for Pepe le Pew (The post was originally written 3/10/11).

I stumbled upon a blog post at Letters of Note in which the author provides a facsimile of a letter written by Chuck Jones (a “legendary animator”) to a class of students about the benefits of reading.  In this letter he tells where he received inspiration for several Looney Toones characters, such as Wile E. Coyote, Bugs Bunny, etc.  What’s of interest to this blog is his statement: “I found the entire romantic personality of Pepe Le Pew in a book written by Kenneth Roberts, Captain Hook.”

To my knowledge, Kenneth Roberts has never written a book titled Captain Hook.  If the Kenneth Roberts Jones references is indeed the Kenneth Roberts of this site, then he probably meant to reference Captain Caution.  It’s been a while since I’ve read this book to know which character served as inspiration for Pepe Le Pew, so if you have an idea, let me know.

The real mystery, though, would be if the Kenneth Roberts that Jones refers to is another Kenneth Roberts that wrote a book titled Captain Hook.  However, I have yet to come across a book with such title AND author.

Nevertheless, a fun piece of Kenneth Roberts trivia!

***Update 3/16: The letter had apparently been up for auction on ebay (check here) but, according to the seller, was sold as of yesterday.  Here is an image the seller posted of the letter:

Interestingly, the image at Letters of Note still had the address of those to whom the letter is addressed, but the address was pixelated in order to “erase” the address.

So, in the midst of my studies, I periodically try to hunt down this “Captain Hook” that Roberts did or did not write.  This letter has grabbed my attention!

During my search for the supposed “Captain Hook” written by Roberts, I was able to find out the following (written 3/19/11 but not published):

I recently wrote a post that highlighted a supposed letter written by famed animator Chuck Jones in which he lists several books that inspired some of his characters (the original post I referenced was from Letters of Note).  Of interest to this blog was the mention of Kenneth Roberts and his book Captain Hook.

I had stated in my post that Roberts has never written a book titled Captain Hook, and that perhaps Jones had either written the incorrect title (meaning to say Captain Caution) or had the wrong author.  To search for the correct answer, I had written the writer (Robert) for the blog Chuck Redux – a site devoted solely to Chuck Jones’ memory and works – and asked him about this letter.

According to Robert – whose authority I trust regarding the works and life of Chuck Jones – Jones had never stated that he was inspired by a literary work for the character Pepe le Pew.  In light of Jones’ photographic memory, such a mistake in a letter from him causes concern regarding the authenticity of the letter.  Other aspects of the letter have raised red flags as well.

In short, the Roberts reference is not correct and Roberts was not an influence on Pepe le Pew, and the letter’s authenticity is in question.  Unfortunately, the letter is making its way throughout the blogosphere as many have caught on to the post at Letters of Note AND the letter has been sold from the ebay auction.

Hopefully more to come.

By the way, check out Robert’s great blog on Chuck Jones.  As a fan of Looney Tunes (growing up and now), this blog is a great way to know the animator that created those characters we grew up with.

I’d withheld publishing these posts in 2011 as Robert checked out the authenticity of the letter, and as time passed, I forgot to update. So there you go!  A bit of news that’s more than likely untrue, but interesting nonetheless.


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