Samuel Michelangelo Rosenbaum, better known as Yosemite Sam, is a Looney Tunes character. He was created because Elmer Fudd was considered very soft and Friz Freleng needed a tougher figure to face Bugs Bunny.
Yosemite Sam made his debut in "Hare Trigger". However, Sam bears a resemblance to a cowboy character in "Buckaroo Bugs", which would be seen as a prototype. Michael Maltese claims that he made Yosemite in the likeness of director Friz Freleng. When Elmer Fudd, who was Bugs Bunny's first enemy, proved to be too much of a softy for his target, Friz decided he needed a tougher opponent so Sam was created.
Yosemite Sam is one of Bugs' toughest antagonists. Yosemite Sam is a more violent character than Bugs' most famous antagonist Elmer Fudd given that Sam has a tougher accent, a higher fierce voice, and a more violent spirit. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes and never falls for the same ploy twice. Despite his aggressive and hot-tempered nature, he doesn't prove much brighter than Elmer in his encounters with Bugs. His noise contrasts to the calmly cocky rabbit. Sam's own cockiness gets the best of him; hence portraying him as a bumbling idiot and Bugs can see he is incapable of turning down a challenge.
A running gag in the show is that sometimes Yosemite Sam tells Bugs "Open up this door open it up now!" and Bugs opens it when Yosemite Sam is in its way of opening and then closes it leaving a raging Yosemite Sam flattened. Another gag involved Sam yelling 'Whoa!' at whatever mode of transportation he was using, only to whack it when it refuses to stop.
Yosemite Sam has had several occupations in a lot of his appearances. Among them include:
Prison Guard/Police Officer: In "Big House Bunny", Yosemite Sam is a prison guard working at a fierce prison. When Bugs Bunny enters the prison to escape hunters, Sam claiming to be named Sam Schultz, arrests Bugs, believing that the wabbit is a prisoner trying to escape. Sam sentences the subdued chained Bugs to 50 years in prison. However, Sam gets infuriated and changes his mind after Bugs annoys him. He eventually orders Bugs to leave and never return and celebrates ridding Bugs until he is arrested for helping a prisoner (Bugs) escape.
Warrior: In "Sahara Hare", Yosemite Sam is an Arabian warrior named Riff-Raff Sam. One day, Sam sees footprints on his desert and follows them on the way abusing his camel. Sam eventually sees Bugs trespassing and chases the wabbit into an abandoned base. Sam tries several unsuccessful attempts to enter the base in the episode, which all fail.
Pirate: In "Buccaneer Bunny", "Mutiny on the Bunny", and "Captain Hareblower", Yosemite Sam is a pirate and fights Bugs Bunny to try to capture the rabbit's ship.
Indian Chief: In "Horse Hare", Sam is an Indian chief that leads an army of Indians to capture US Cavalry Sergeant Bugs' base.
Cowboy: In "Wild and Woolly Hare", Yosemite Sam is a legendary gangster cowboy who takes over towns, through intimidation. One day Bugs Bunny challenges him to a gunfight. After Bugs wins the gunfight, Yosemite Sam decides to rob a train. Bugs, however, boards and hijacks the train to save it; Yosemite Sam as a running gag, orders Bugs to get off by the time he counts to a specific number but just when he reaches his final number, he always runs into something like a tunnel wall, telephone pole and falls off a bridge.
Yosemite Sam is a small fellow with a big mouth. He has a temper as short as he is, often drawing his guns on anyone who dares to defy him. He is much like a character from a Western movie, wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. His small size is lampooned in the short "Hare Trigger", where a train he tries to hold up passes right over him without him being harmed. He is reckless, very stubborn, and hates it when he's wrong and hates it so much, in fact, that he shoots bullets at random targets, but never hits anyone. He possesses a mean and somewhat vindictive streak. However, he has taken the roles of several other positions, such as a knight and mayor, but the miniature bandit is best known for his Western cartoons, even though his non-Western "Knighty Knight Bugs" cartoon won an Academy Award.
Sam has, on several accounts, attempted to rid himself of his arch-nemesis, Bugs Bunny, but he has never succeeded, due to the brilliant cleverness and cunning of Bugs. No matter how many times he tries, Sam always seems to experience some form of pain or humiliation when he challenges Bugs. Bugs likes to call him Sam.
Sam has appeared in forms of a pirate, a riff-raffer, a knight, a prospector and many others in cartoons with Bugs. No matter which form Sam takes, Bugs always beats him in the end.
In Devil's Feud Cake, it is revealed that the reason Sam hunts Bugs in a majority of his cartoons is because after dying from falling out of a plane, the Devil agreed that if Sam brings him Bugs he will allow him to live again. Each time he fails and should have been fatally injured, his return is because the Devil revives him to give him a "second chance". This may be inaccurate as Looney Tunes doesn't have any continuity.
Over the years, Sam has been voiced by the following people:
- Mel Blanc: 1945 - 1987
- Joe Alaskey: Tiny Toon Adventures
- Jeff Bergman: 1990 - 1992
- Charlie Adler: Tiny Toon Adventures (1 episode only)
- Maurice LaMarche: 1992-2016
- Greg Burson: "Carrotblanca"
- Jim Cummings: 1996 - 2000
- Bill Farmer: Space Jam
- Frank Gorshin: "From Hare to Eternity"
- Jeff Bennett: Looney Tunes: Back in Action & "Hare and Loathing In Las Vegas"
- Fred Tatasciore: New Looney Tunes (Season 2-present)