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- This article is about the character. For the future film of the same name, see Pepé Le Pew (film).
Pepé Le Pew is a character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. An anthropomorphic French skunk, Pepé is continuously in search of romance, but his scent, self-delusion, and his overly persistent manner inhibit his efforts.
Chuck Jones first introduced the character (originally named Stinky, and once referred to as Henry) in the 1945 short "Odor-able Kitty". This differs from later entries in several areas: Pepé spends his time in (unknowing) pursuit of a male cat, who has deliberately disguised himself as a skunk (complete with a limburger scent) in order to scare off a bunch of characters mistreating him; and in the closing gag, Pepé is revealed to actually be a philandering, hen-pecked American skunk named Henry (complete with wife and children!). For the remaining cartoons Jones directed, Pepé retained his accent, nationality, and bachelor status throughout, and the object of his pursuit was always (or nearly always) female.[citation needed|date=]
There have been theories that Pepé was based on Maurice Chevalier. However, in the short film, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood, Chuck says Pepé was actually based on himself, but that he was very shy with girls, and Pepé obviously was not. A prototype Pepé appears in the 1948 cartoon "Bugs Bunny Rides Again", but sounds similar to Porky Pig.[citation needed|date=]
An antecedent in 1944's "I Got Plenty of Mutton" is a ram called Killer Diller that behaves very much as Pepé later would, pursuing a reluctant "female", speaking with a French accent (Mel Blanc used the same voice as he would for Pepé), smothering the victim with kisses, constantly turning up in the victim's hiding places, and nonchalantly bouncing after a frantically scrambling target.
Pepé Le Pew cartoons typically feature the amorous polecat pursuing what he believes is a "female skunk." Usually, however, the supposed female skunk is actually a black cat (retroactively named "Penelope Pussycat") who has had a white stripe painted down her back, often by accident (such as by squeezing under a fence with still-wet white paint). Usually, Penelope runs away from Pepé because of either his putrid odor or overly assertive manner (or both), but the skunk won't take "no" for an answer, and hops after her at a leisurely pace.
A running gag often found in the Pepe Le Pew cartoons are instances of the side characters encountering skunks (either Pepe or any cat in skunk disguises, such as Penelope Pussycat) and fleeing away from their putrid odor and/or skunk-like appearances in a comical fashion at the start of the cartoon. Very often, since the Pepe series are set in France beginning with the Academy Award-winning "For Scent-imental Reasons", many of these side characters tend to react to this with exaggerated French accents (and very often, are given minimal dialogue, often nothing more than a repulsed, "Le pew!").
A skunk often identified as Pepé appears in the Art Davis-directed cartoon "Odor of the Day" (1948); in this entry, the theme of romantic pursuit is missing as the skunk (in a nonspeaking role, save for a shared "Gesundheit!" at the finish) vies with a male dog for lodging accommodations on a bitterly cold night. This should be noted as one of the two cartoons where the character, if this is indeed Pepé, used his scent-spray as a deliberate weapon: delivered from his tail in a machine gun-like fashion. The other one is "Touché and Go", where he frees himself from the jaws of a shark.
In a role-reversal, the Academy Award-winning short "For Scent-imental Reasons" ends with an accidentally painted (and, at this point, terrified) Pepé being amorously pursued by a love-struck Penelope (who has been dunked under dirty water, leaving her with a ratty guise as well as a developing head cold that has completely clogged up her nose). Penelope locks him up inside a perfume shop, hides the key down her chest, and proceeds to turn the tables on the now-imprisoned and effectively odorless Pepé.
In another short, "Little Beau Pepé", Pepé, attempting to find the most arousing cologne with which to impress Penelope, sprays a combination of perfumes and colognes upon himself. This results in something close to a love-potion, leading Penelope to fall madly in love with Pepé. Pepé is revealed to be extremely frightened of overly-affectionate women, as Penelope quickly captures him and smothers him in more love than even he could imagine.
And yet again, in "Really Scent", Pepé removes his odor by locking himself in a deodorant plant so Penelope (or "Fabrette," as she is called in this cartoon) would like him (this is also the only film-short in which Pepé is acutely aware of his own odor, having checked the word "P.U." in a dictionary). However, Penelope (who in this cartoon is actually trying to have a relationship with Pepé because all the male cats of New Orleans take her to be a skunk and run like blazes, but is appalled by his odor) has decided to make her own odor match her appearance and has locked herself in a Limburger cheese factory. Now more forceful and demanding, Penelope quickly corners the terrified Pepé, who, after smelling her new stench, wants nothing more than to escape the amorous female cat. Unfortunately, she will not take "no" for an answer and proceeds to chase Pepé off into the distance, with no intention of letting him escape. (Credited to Abe Levitow, this cartoon is the only film-short in the Pepé Le Pew series not directed by Chuck Jones, besides the disputable "Odor of the Day").
Although Pepé usually mistakes Penelope for a female skunk, in "Past Perfumance", he realizes that she is a cat when her stripe washes off. Undeterred, he proceeds to cover his white stripe with black paint, taking the appearance of a cat before resuming the chase.
For some unknown reason, Penelope is always mute (more precisely - does only natural cat sounds) in these stories; only the self-deluded Pepé speaks (several non-recurring human characters are given minimal dialogue, often nothing more than a repulsed, "Le pew!").
Sometimes this formula is subverted. In his debut appearance, "Odor-able Kitty", Pepé (technically he is a different character because he is eventually revealed to be an American-accented family skunk named "Henry" with two sons and a wife who beats him up for his "unfaithfulness") unwittingly pursues a male cat who disguises himself as a skunk. "Scent-imental over You" has Pepé pursuing a female dog who has donned a skunk pelt (mistaking it for a fur coat). In the end, she removed her pelt, revealing that she's a dog. Pepe then, "revealed" himself as another dog and the two embrace. However, he later revealed to the viewers that he's indeed a skunk. In "Wild over You", Pepé attempts to woo a wildcat who has escaped from a zoo (during what is called "Le grande tour du Zoo" at the start of the 20th century exhibition), and painted itself to look like a skunk to escape its keepers. This cartoon is notable for not only diverging from the usual Pepé/Penelope dynamic, but also rather cheekily showing that Pepé likes to be beaten up, considering the wildcat thrashes him numerous times.
Chuck Jones, Pepé's creator, wrote that Pepé was based (loosely) on the personality of screenwriter Tedd Pierce, a self-styled "ladies' man" who reportedly always assumed that his infatuations were requited. Chuck also created Pepé because he saw Pepé as the person he wanted to be as a young man, thinking of himself as "unattractive". Pepé's voice, provided by Mel Blanc, was based on Charles Boyer's Pépé Le Moko from Algiers, a remake of the 1937 French film Pépé Le Moko.[citation needed|date=]
Eddie Selzer, animation producer (and Chuck's bitterest foe) at Warner Bros. Cartoons then once profanely commented that no one would laugh at those cartoons. However, this did not keep Eddie from accepting an award for one of Pepé's pictures several years later.[citation needed|date=]
In the shorts, a kind of fake French is spoken and written primarily by adding "le" to English words (example: "le skunk de pew"), or by more creative mangling of French expressions with English ones, such as "Sacre Maroon!", "My sweet peanut of brittle", "Come to me, my little melon-baby collie!" or "Ah, my little darling, it is love at first sight, is it not, no?", and "It is love at sight first!" The screenwriter responsible for these malapropisms was Michael Maltese.[citation needed|date=]
Some transcribed Maltese dialogue from the Oscar-winning 1949 short "For Scent-imental Reasons":
- Pepé: "Affaire d'amour? Affaire de coeur? Je ne sais quoi ... je vive en espoir. *Sniff.* Mmmm m mm ... un smella vous finez ... *Hum.*"
- Gendarme: "Le kittee quel terrible odeur!!"
- Proprietor: "Allais Gendarme!! Allais!! Retournez-moi!! This instonce!! Oh, pauvre moi, I am ze bankrupt ... *Sob!*"
- Penelope: "Le mew, le purrrrrrr."
- Proprietor: "A-a-ahhh. Le pussy ferocious! Remove zot skunk! Zot cat-pole from ze premises!! Avec!!"
- Penelope: "*Sniff, sniff, sniff-sniff, sniff-sniff.*"
- Pepé: "Quel est? *Notices Penelope.* Ahh...le belle femme skunk fatale...*clicks tongue twice.*"
Mel Blanc's voice for the character resembles the one he used for Professor Le Blanc, the harried violin instructor on The Jack Benny Program.
A possible cameo appearance is at the end of "Fair and Worm-er" (Chuck Jones, 1946). This skunk doesn't speak, but looks identical (or is a close relation) and shares the same mode of travel and a slight variation of Pepé's hopping music. His function here is to chase a string of characters who had all been chasing each other (à la "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly").
Pepé himself made a more obvious cameo in "Dog Pounded" (1954), where he was attracted to Sylvester after the latter tried to get around a pack of guard dogs, in his latest attempt to capture and eat Tweety, by painting a white stripe down his back (in his only appearance in a Freleng short).
Pepé possibly makes a small appearance as a baby skunk in "Mouse-Placed Kitten" (1959), where he is reluctantly adopted by a mouse couple at the cartoon end.
Pepé makes an appearance at the beginning of the "The Oswald Awards" section of the 1981 compilation movie Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie.
Pepé made several cameo appearances on the 1990 series Tiny Toon Adventures as a professor at Acme Looniversity and the mentor to the female skunk character Fifi La Fume. He appeared briefly in "The Looney Beginning" and had a more extended cameo in "It's a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special". The segment "Out Of Odor" from the episode "Viewer Mail Day" saw character Elmyra disguise herself as Pepé in an attempt to lure Fifi into a trap, only to have Fifi begin aggressively wooing her.
Pepé also makes cameo appearances in the Histeria! episode "When America Was Young" and in the Goodfeathers segment, "We're No Pigeons", on Animaniacs.
In the 1995 animated short "Carrotblanca", a parody/homage of the classic film Casablanca, both Pepé and Penelope appear: Pepé (voiced by Greg Burson) as Captain Renault and Penelope (voiced by Tress MacNeille) as "Kitty Ketty," modeled after Ingrid Bergman performance as Ilsa. Unlike the character's other appearances in cartoons, Penelope (as Kitty) has extensive speaking parts in Carrotblanca.
In the The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries episode "Platinum Wheel of Fortune", Sylvester gets a white stripe on his back and a skunk immediately falls in love with him. This is not Pepé, but his fourth cousin, "Pitu Le Pew". He says, "What can I say, Pepé Le Pew is my fourth cousin. It runs in the family". Pepé would later appear in the episode "Paris is Stinking", where he pursues Sylvester who is unintentionally dressed in drag. Pepé would appear once more in Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, falling in love with both Sylvester and Penelope (Sylvester had gotten a white stripe on his back from Penelope as they fought over Tweety), actually showing a preference for Sylvester.
Pepé was, at one point, integral to the storyline for the movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Originally, once Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, DJ, and Kate arrived in Paris, Pepé was to give them a mission briefing inside a gift shop. Perhaps because of the group receiving their equipment in Area 52, Pepé's scene was cut, and in the final film, he plays only a bit part, dressed like a police officer, who tries to help DJ (played by Brendan Fraser) after Kate (played by Jenna Elfman) is kidnapped. [citation needed|date=]
However, some unused animation of him and Penelope appears during the end credits, thus giving viewers a rare glimpse at his cut scene, and his cut scene appears in the movie's print adaptations. Pepé also appears in Space Jam, where his voice has curiously been changed into an approximation of Maurice Chevalier, as opposed to more traditional vocalization.
In Loonatics Unleashed, a human based on Pepé Le Pew named Pierre Le Pew (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) has appeared as one of the villains of the second season of the show. Additionally, Pepé and Penelope Pussycat appear as cameos in a display of Otto the Odd, in the series. In the episode "The World is My Circus", Lexi Bunny complains that "this Pepé Le Pew look is definitely not me" after being mutated into a skunk-like creature.
A 2009 Valentine's Day-themed AT&T commercial brings Pepé and Penelope's relationship up to date, depicting Penelope not as repulsed by Pepé, but madly in love with him. The commercial begins with Penelope deliberately painting a white stripe on her own back; when her cell phone rings and displays Pepé's picture, Penelope's lovestruck beating heart bulges beneath her chest in a classic cartoon image.[citation needed|date=]
Pepé Le Pew has appeared in the The Looney Tunes Show episode "Members Only" voiced by René Auberjonois. He also made a short cameo appearance with Penelope Pussycat in the Merrie Melodies segment "Cock of the Walk" sung by Foghorn Leghorn. He appeared in his own music video "Skunk Funk" in the 16th episode "That's My Baby". He also appeared again in another Merrie Melodies segment "You Like/I Like" sung by Mac and Tosh. His first appearance in the second season was in the second episode, entitled, "You've Got Hate Mail", reading a hate-filled email accidentally sent by Daffy Duck.
Pepé Le Pew made a cameo in a MetLife commercial in 2012 titled, "Everyone". In it, he was shown hopping along in the forest and when he sees his love interest, Penelope, atop the back of Battle Cat, he immediately hops after her.[citation needed|date=]
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- Main article: Pepe Le Pew (film)
In October 2010, it was reported that Mike Myers would voice Pepé Le Pew in a feature-length live action film based on the character, although no information about this project has surfaced since. In July 2016, it was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con that Max Landis was penning a Pepé Le Pew feature film for Warner Bros.[citation needed|date=]
Pepé Le Pew Shorts
(Directed by Chuck Jones unless otherwise indicated)
- "Odor-able Kitty" (1945)
- "Scent-imental over You" (1947)
- "Odor of the Day" (1948, the only cartoon in which Pepé is not a "lovebird" nor does he have a French accent; directed by Arthur Davis)
- "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949), Academy Award winner
- "Scent-imental Romeo" (1951)
- "Little Beau Pepé" (1952)
- "Wild over You" (1953)
- "Dog Pounded" (1954) (cameo in a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng)
- "The Cats Bah" (1954)
- "Past Perfumance" (1955)
- "Two Scent's Worth" (1955)
- "Heaven Scent" (1956)
- "Touché and Go" (1957)
- "Really Scent" (1959) (directed by Abe Levitow)
- "Who Scent You?" (1960)
- "A Scent of the Matterhorn" (1961)
- "Louvre Come Back to Me!" (1962)
- "Carrotblanca" (1995) (directed by Douglas McCarthy and Spike Brandt)
- Mel Blanc: 1945 - 1989
- Maurice LaMarche: Space Jam, Looney Tunes: Back in Action: The Video Game
- Bruce Lanoil: Looney Tunes: Back in Action
- Joe Alaskey: Tweety's High-Flying Adventure, Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas
- Billy West: some video games [citation needed|date=]
- Greg Burson: "Carrotblanca", Tiny Toon Adventures, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries
- Jeff Bennett: Dancing Pepé
- Rene Auberjonois: The Looney Tunes Show (Season 1)
- Jeff Bergman: The Looney Tunes Show (Season 2), Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run
- Eric Bauza : New Looney Tunes
- Bugs Bunny and Pepé Le Pew - A Battle Of Wits - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #240 Dell Oct 1961
- Daffy Duck and Pepé Le Pew - The Charming Chump - 6 pages - Daffy Duck #27 Dell Oct 1961
- Daffy Duck - The Large Charge - 5 pages - Daffy Duck #30 Dell July 1962
- Daffy Duck and Pepé Le Pew - The Charming Chump - 6 pages - Daffy Duck #62 Western March 1970
- Pepé Le Pew - Boat Bungle - 8 pages - Bugs Bunny #86 Western Oct 1962
- Henerey Hawk - Helpful Hawking - 6 pages - Bugs Bunny #86 Western Oct 1962
- Bugs Bunny - Showtime - 12 pages - Bugs Bunny #86 Western Oct 1962
- Pepé Le Pew - The Wise Disguise - 6 pages - Bugs Bunny #87 Western Dec 1962
- Pepé Le Pew - King Of The Hill - 6 pages - Bugs Bunny #88 Western March 1963
- Bugs Bunny Showtime - Cover - Bugs Bunny #88 Western March 1963
- Pepé Le Pew - Sweets For The Sweet - 6 pages - Bugs Bunny #138 Western Oct 1971
- Bugs Bunny - The Bored Boarders - 7 pages - Bugs Bunny #146 Western Dec 1972
- Bugs Bunny - Beau Fudd - 12 pages - Bugs Bunny #162 Western March 1975
Golden Comics Digest
- Pepé Le Pew - The Wise Disguise - 8 pages - Golden Comics Digest #26 Western
March Of Comics
- Road Runner - Trouble Doubled - 14 pages - March Of Comics #353 Western 1971
- Road Runner - Trouble Doubled - 14 pages - March Of Comics #416 Western April 1976
Tweety and Sylvester
- Tweety and Sylvester - Pills and Spills! - 5 pages - Tweety and Sylvester #111 Sep 1981
- Bugs Bunny - Broken China - 22 pages - Bugs Bunny #2 July 1990
- Bugs Bunny - Cover - Bugs Bunny #2 July 1990
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #1 DC April 1994
- Marvin Martian - Earthstruck - 10 pages - Looney Tunes #1 DC April 1994
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #3 DC June 1994
- Pepé Le Pew - Half Baked Romance - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #3 DC June 1994
- Bugs Bunny - Take Me Out To The Ball Game - 12 pages - Looney Tunes #3 DC June 1994
- Tasmanian Devil - Happy 40th Birthday, Taz - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #6 DC Sep 1994
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #9 DC Dec 1994
- Pepé Le Pew - If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Love - 12 pages - Looney Tunes #9 DC Dec 1994
- Bugs Bunny - How The Wabbit Saved Christmas - 18 pages - Looney Tunes #10 DC Jan 1995
- Looney Tunes - Star Player - 3 pages - Looney Tunes #14 DC May 1995
- Porky Pig - Love Disconnection - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #27 DC Jan 1997
- Daffy Duck - Side Kicked - 10 pages - Looney Tunes #34 DC Nov 1997
- Pepé Le Pew - The Skunk Who Loved Me - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #37 DC Feb 1998
- Bugs Bunny - Hare-Allel Universe - 12 pages - Looney Tunes #39 DC April 1998
- Pepé Le Pew - The Invisible Skunk - 9 pages - Looney Tunes #42 DC July 1998
- Pepé Le Pew - La Cage Aux Pew - 5 pages - Looney Tunes #46 DC Nov 1998
- Mac & Tosh: Mind Your Manners - Polite Pre-Reek-Quisites - 1 page - Looney Tunes #47 DC Dec 1998
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #66 DC July 2000
- Pepé Le Pew - The Painted Pussy Cat - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #66 DC July 2000
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #75 DC April 2001
- Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck - Hare Gone Conclusion - 24 pages - Looney Tunes #75 DC April 2001
- Pepé Le Pew - The Smell Of Victory - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #95 DC Dec 2002
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #100 DC May 2003
- Looney Tunes - P Is For Pepé - 1 page - Looney Tunes #100 DC May 2003
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #105 DC Oct 2003
- Looney Tunes - Fume Service - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #105 DC Oct 2003
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #109 DC Feb 2004
- Pepé Le Pew - Hysterical History: Carrying A Torch - 1 page - Looney Tunes #109 DC Feb 2004
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #110 DC March 2004
- Pepé Le Pew - The Skunk Smelled Round The World - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #110 DC March 2004
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #116 DC Sep 2004
- Pepé Le Pew - The Devil May Care - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #116 DC Sep 2004
- Pepé Le Pew - Fast Women - 1 page - Looney Tunes #120 DC Jan 2005
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #121 DC Feb 2005
- Pepé Le Pew - The Right Stink - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #121 DC Feb 2005
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #125 DC June 2005
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #127 DC Aug 2005
- Pepé Le Pew - Paparazzi Pew - 2 pages - Looney Tunes #127 DC Aug 2005
- Pepé Le Pew - A Star Is Smelled - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #127 DC Aug 2005
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #150 DC July 2007
- Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck - Take Manhattan and Run - 2 pages - Looney Tunes #150 DC July 2007
- Daffy Duck - Moulin Stooge - 2 pages - Looney Tunes #150 DC July 2007
- Sari, Long (Musical) Numbers - 3 pages - Looney Tunes #150 DC July 2007
- Daffy Duck - Daffy Duck Behind the Cartoons - 7 pages - Looney Tunes #150 DC July 2007
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #153 DC Oct 2007
- Pepé Le Pew - Seeing Red - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #153 DC Oct 2007
- Pepé Le Pew - The Not So Sweet Smell Of Success - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #153 DC Oct 2007
- Pepé Le Pew - Prancing With The Stars - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #157 DC Feb 2008
- Pepé Le Pew - The Smell of Victory - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #174 DC July 2009
- Pepé Le Pew - Vous Tube - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #175 DC Aug 2009
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #183 DC Aug 2010
- Pepé Le Pew - Pepe and Delilah - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #183 DC Aug 2010
- Pepé Le Pew - Fume Service - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #195 DC April 2011
- Pepé Le Pew - The Smell of Victory - 4 pages - Looney Tunes #195 DC April 2011
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #197 DC June 2011
- Pepé Le Pew - The Devil May Care - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #197 DC June 2011
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes #200 DC Sep 2011
- Pepé Le Pew - Amour de France - 6 pages - Looney Tunes #202 DC Nov 2011
- Pepé Le Pew - Paparazzi Pew - 2 pages - Looney Tunes #217 DC April 2014
- Bugs Bunny - Will-Call Wabbit - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #217 DC April 2014
- Looney Tunes - What's [Space] Opera, Doc? - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #239 DC Nov 2017
- Looney Tunes - Bigger, Faster, Boom! - 8 pages - Looney Tunes #255 DC July 2020
- Space Jam - 47 pages - Space Jam DC 1996
Looney Tunes (Burger King Promo)
- Looney Tunes - Cover - Looney Tunes (Burger King Promo) #2 DC 2004
- Starfire - Cover - Starfire #6 DC Jan 2016
- Batman/Elmer Fudd - Pway For Me - 30 pages - Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1 DC Aug 2017
Rosnoc/Magazine Management (Australia)
- Bugs Bunny - The Bored Boarders - 7 pages - Bugs Bunny #26016 Rosnock 1976
- Daffy Duck - The Large Charge - 5 pages - Daffy Duck #R2233 Rosnock
(From the Pepé Le Pew Shorts)
- "Touching, is it not?"
- "I'm the locksmith of love, no?"
- "How impetuous can you get?!"
- "I am Pepé Le Pew, your lover!"
- "Ah, I know! The jealous lover! Monsieur, I salute you!"
- "Most men would be discouraged by now. Fortunately for her, I am not most men!"
- (After a faked suicide attempt) "I missed! Fortunately for you! And now Ma Cheri, we can start anew!"
- Main article: Pepé Le Pew/Gallery