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Who Was the First Cartoon Character on a USPS Postage Stamp?

Margaret Lipman
Published Jun 17, 2024
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Mickey Mouse is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular animated characters, yet the distinction of being the first Hollywood cartoon character to appear on a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) stamp belongs to a different animated figure: Bugs Bunny.

Considering the plethora of pop culture characters on recent stamps, it might surprise you to learn that it wasn’t until May 22, 1997, that the first animated (rather than comic strip) character was featured on a USPS stamp.

According to postal officials, that honor could have belonged to Mickey and his pals, if the Walt Disney Company had given the Postal Service royalty-free use of Disney images. Apparently, the approval never materialized, opening the door for Warner Bros. Studio to approach the Postal Service and ultimately get their “wascally wabbit” and a dozen other Looney Tunes characters featured in a series of 32-cent stamps, as well as a range of products such as T-shirts, mugs, and key chains. Bugs Bunny would also become an ambassador for the Postal Service’s “Stampers” program, an initiative aimed at getting young people interested in stamp collecting (for the record, the proper name for that hobby is “philately”).

The 1997 Bugs Bunny stamp was groundbreaking for another reason. The 10-stamp sheet was the Postal Service’s first self-adhesive souvenir sheet, and Bugs Bunny went on to become the seventh-most popular stamp in USPS history.

Of course, as anyone who has mailed a letter in the last 20 years knows, Disney soon made up for lost time. Mickey Mouse first appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 2004 as part of a series entitled “The Art of Disney: Friendship” that featured Mickey, Goofy, and Donald Duck; Bambi and Thumper; Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket; and Mufasa and Simba on 37-cent stamps. That release was followed by a slew of other Disney (and later, Pixar) characters, on themes including romance, magic, and imagination (plus Disney villains, of course).

What’s up, Doc?

  • Long before he was honored with his own postage stamp, Bugs Bunny appeared on publicity materials for both War Bonds and military recruitment during World War II.

  • In 2020, to recognize the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny’s official debut in the 1940 comedy short A Wild Hare, Bugs Bunny was honored with another series of 10 unique stamp designs, this time as Forever stamps.

  • Two years after his death, Walt Disney was featured on a commemorative 1968 USPS stamp, while a scene from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first feature-length animated film, appeared on a 1998 stamp as part of the “Celebrate the Century” series.

  • Interestingly, Disney characters appeared on stamps issued by other countries long before they were authorized for use by the U.S. Postal Service. Grenada, Dominica, and the Maldives were among the nations with Disney-themed postage stamps during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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