On this website there's the following paragraph:

The sexy red-haired woman from the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) was based on a real-life character. Although some believe the inspiration for Jessica was actress Veronica Lake, it was actually another one — Vikki Dougan.

On the other hand I saw this picture on the internet and I researched about it a bit (you can see her other pictures on the net too):

Melissa Duck

She is Melissa Duck, Daffy Duck's girlfriend; And this look was for her depiction in the 1952 animated movie The Super Snooper (she was called Shapely Lady Duck there).

Were Jessica Rabbit's looks inspired by this Warner Bros. character, Vikki Dougan, or something or someone else entirely?

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    Dougan famously wore dresses with very low-cut backs; cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 17:54
  • Thank you for the edit @Valorum Also, I realized now that Melissa Duck's and Jessica Rabbit's last names both are animals. Also, their first names both have similar rhymes. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 14:05
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    @EtackSxchange - Melissa and Jessica both have animal surnames because they're married to men (or rather animals) with those surnames. Roger Rabbit's surname is Rabbit. He also is a rabbit, which presumably is why that's his surname
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 15:04
  • Jessica went through lots of different concept art designs; youtu.be/ME4yxyGZNS4?si=tpjbmB1QJnUQpQ78
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


Rita Hayworth / Veronica Lake / Lauren Bacall

The film's Director of Animation Richard Williams gave an interview where he talked about the basis for Jessica's characterisation on screen. In short, she's a mish-mash of various famous Hollywood actresses.

Set in Los Angeles in 1947, "The Rabbit," as [Director of Animation] Mr. Williams calls the film, is essentially a buddy movie involving a down-at-the-heels private eye (Bob Hoskins) who reluctantly seeks to save Roger Rabbit, a hapless cartoon star wrongly accused of murder. A third key character is, of course, the femme fatale - Roger's impossibly gorgeous wife, Jessica.

"It's the ultimate male fantasy, drawn by a cartoonist," said Mr. Williams. "I tried to make her like Rita Hayworth; we took her hair from Veronica Lake, and Zemeckis kept saying, 'What about the look Lauren Bacall had?'"

New York Times - An Animator Breaks Old Rules And New Ground in 'Roger Rabbit'

enter image description here

Red Hot Riding Hood / Betty Boop / Gary K. Wolfe's wife

Gary K. Wolfe, the writer of the Roger Rabbit books was extensively involved in the production of the film, regularly meeting with the screenwriters and spending time with the animation team and director fleshing out the characters. In his mind, the character is largely based on Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood. There was also more than a passing nod to Betty Boop in how Jessica was presented in the film.

Q. I've heard conflicting reports that (film version) Jessica Rabbit was based on 1) Actress Vikki Dougan or 2) Tex Avery’s cartoon character Red. Is one, the other or a combination of both?

"I based Jessica on my ideal of what a perfect girlfriend would be. I've been told since them by many in the movie industry, that if Jessica is my idea of a woman, perhaps I should stick to writing Turkish prison or war movies where I don't have to deal with "feminine" issues. I based Jessica on Tex Avery's cartoon character Red Hot Riding Hood."

Gary K. Wolf (Creator of Roger Rabbit) Ask Me Anything session


Q: Is Jessica Rabbit an ideal woman creation of yours, or is she based on any one or multiple women?

GKW: Jessica Rabbit is my idea of the perfect woman. But you must remember that I was an only child, no sisters, and grew up in a small mid-western town with no girls. The only women I knew were elderly school teachers and maiden aunts. So I invented Jessica to [get] by. I based her on Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood. In fact, if you watch that cartoon, you'll see RHRH doing a musical number which is a virtually [a] duplicate of the one Jessica does in the Ink and Paint Club. Incidentally, because of my lack of understanding of women, I have been advised more than once to limit my writing to war stories and Turkish Prison movies.

1995 Question and Answer IRC 'Meet with Gary Wolf


Q: Speaking of hidden things, what's the deal on the Jessica Rabbit cels that show a bit more than others?

I can't officially confirm that, but if I had to guess, I would say that it was the animators continuing an age-old tradition. Betty Boop was topless in six frames of every cartoon. If Betty can boop a doop, so can Jessica. If you actually see the scene, there's nothing really risque-like about it. It's the equivalent of peeking under the skirt of your Barbie doll. Animation is a very tedious business. Whatever animators can do to keep themselves enthusiastic, more power to them.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of Jessica Rabbit?

She's based on a Tex Avery character call Red Hot Riding Hood. Red Hot appeared in a number of cartoons in the forties and early fifties. Wild and Woolfy being the one I remember best.

Wednesday 6 August, 1997 - The Arbordale Auditorium on AmberThree Productions' EntertainMuck

enter image description here

Wolf also commented that Jessica was, in part, based on his wife. It's not clear if he was joking.

Q. Is there a special lady Jessica Rabbit is crafted after, or is she the best bits of several?

She's based on my wife. And now that I've admitted that, I don't want to see a hundred fan boys hanging around my front door.

On a related note, Vikki Dougan claimed in a 2009 interview with Exclusive Hollywood that the character of Jessica Rabbit was based on her, but that she was never officially credited as the inspiration. There doesn't appear to be any solid proof of this.

they did a caricature of me, everybody tells me and actually, you know what you're not going to believe this [but] I've never seen the movie.

  • No mention of Melissa Duck or Vikki Dougan (other than in the negative), I'm afraid.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 14:53
  • In an earlier August 1995 Q&A Wolf said, "I based her on Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood." His (approximately) 2013 Q&A comment about his wife contradicts this, so it was either said for fun, or the earlier RHRH claim was a cover story, or maybe the truth was that it was a blend. Also Wolf's comment were about the character in the novel, William's description is about the film version which is what the question was about. Of course Williams would have started with Wolf's description as a basis so again it may have been a blend. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 15:36
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    Interestingly as your answer shows, in the 2013 Q&A he made both statements. He was asked about Jessica and he gave the Red Hot Riding Hood answer which was worded very similar to what he said in the October 1995 Q&A. Then later in the 2013 Q&A someone asked him again about Jessica, this time he answered that she was based on his wife, followed by a joke about it. In the Q&A he jokes around quite a bit, at one point clarifying "It was a joke" after someone took seriously his claim that he was paid in Disney Dollars. So I suspect that the comment about his wife may have been more of a joke. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 16:04
  • @StevePemberton - Reading interviews, Wolf was extensively involved with the production, all the way from the initial screenplay, concept artistry and actual animation right through to the test screenings and final edit.
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 17:32
  • While this may be what he claims, I don't see it. Jessica's hair is long, RHRH has hers up. Jessica wears a long gown, RHRH a short dress. Except for the bill, she looks a lot like Melissa Duck.
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 22:02

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