5Frank Oz

6nancy Cartwright

7pamela adlon


Do you recognize any of these people?

The first guy is probably the most recognizable because he’s been on a few sit-coms – Hank Azaria. And some people might recognize the last guy – Seth MacFarlane, as the evil genius behind Family Guy.

What all these people have in common is that they’re all voice actors who’ve provided the voices of many of the animated characters we grew up with or the strange new breed of animated characters populating our televisions these days.

Perhaps some of you saw the little mini-special on Seth MacFarlane the other night. I know Family Guy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s crude and raw and outrageous and tasteless and seems to have no boundaries, but it’s also brutally funny I think. Sometimes it’s funny in an “ha-ha what a bunch of idiots” way and sometimes it’s funny in an “OMG, I can’t believe they actually said/did that” way.

Either way, I think Seth MacFarlane is very talented and nasty-hot brilliant. He created the show, he writes for the show, he’s the executive producer and he does the voices of Peter, Brian and Stewie. And he sings.

Anyway, I’ve always had a thing for people who could do voices. When I was young I couldn’t get enough of comic impersonators like Rich Little or Frank Gorshin (Whatever happened to comic impersonators anyway? Is that still a job that people do?) 

The people pictured above are some of my favourite voice actors:

  1. Hank Azaria: Simpsons – Moe Szyslak, Chief Whiggum, Apu, Comic Book Guy, Cletus Spukler, Dr. Nick Riviera, Snake, Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Disco Stu, Duffman among others.
  2. Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble
  3. Dan Castellaneta: Simpsons – Homer, Grandpa, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Klown, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, Hans Moleman among others
  4. Tress MacNeille: Simpsons – Agnes Skinner, Cookie Kwan (realtor), Brandine Spukler, Bernice Hibbert, Crazy Cat Lady (also in Futurama), Mom in Futurama, and for Disney, Daisy Duck since 1999 and Betty Boop since 1998
  5. Frank Oz: Muppets – Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert and Yoda in Star Wars
  6. Nancy Cartwright: Simpsons – Bart, Nelson, Todd Flanders, Ralph Wiggum and Chuckie in the Rugrats
  7. Pamela Segall Adlon:  Tons of voiceovers for movies and Bobbie Hill on King of the Hill
  8. Seth MacFarlane

34 responses to “Voices

  1. I watched the Special the other night – I laughed out loud numerous times. Family Guy is great – nothing is verboten: they’ll mock anything (it’s similar to South Park in that regard).

    WRT the Looney Tunes, after Blanc died, this poster was done:

    I’ve always thought it captured his spirit, talent and creativity.

  2. I always thought that voice acting would be a fabulous way to make a living – and nobody would care what you looked like. Quite the anomaly in the acting business, I think!

  3. In just another on the long list of “Why I Adore My Husband”: He does voices. On our first date he did a James Mason line from North By Northwest and I practically swooned and said, “I LOVE JAMES MASON!!” and then he said, “You’re the first person who knew who that was.” Kevin Spacey is also good at doing impersonations. The trick to doing impersonations is saying something out of character. When my husband does Jimmy Stewart he has him saying something about a hooker in Tijuana. We also like identifying the voices from TV commercials. Just yesterday I said, “Hey, play that back. That’s Wendy Malick.” I do love the voice actors and voiceover people and was really sad when Don LaFontaine died last year. And my husband also does a great Don LaFontaine. ¡Viva las voces!

  4. Ken – Cute poster. Rumour has it that his headstone says “That’s all folks”. And ya, Family Guy is unique. It’s so fast you sometimes aren’t even sure that you actually heard what you think you heard.

    Dave – Of course. Where else would they be from? I’m surprised Seth MacFarlane isn’t from Portland, too.

    Pinklea – I know! I’d love to do that. You don’t have to get dressed up to come to work. It’s always funny. Nothing to memorize. You don’t even have to meet your fellow actors half the time. Sign me up.

    Geewits – I think one of the reasons we don’t have so many comic impressionists anymore is because nobody famous has distinctive enough voices to mimic. There are no more James Masons, Ed Sullivans, Peter Lorres, Humphrey Bogarts, WC Fields, Alfred Hitchcocks — They all sound the same. I’m not too bad at doing voices and accents either. I used to do James Mason when I was a kid, too. Along with some of these others. Oh, look! Something I’m not inept at!!

  5. I love Family Guy. It’s a brilliant show…

    I recognized four of the actors, mostly because Mr. Jazz has a thing for voice actors too.

    He does voices himself – and is the official phone voice of a few organizations – including Hydro Quebec…

  6. Good interview on CBC Radio this morning with the guy who does Elmo’s voice… Big, deep voice with a Brooklyn accent…

    These folks are talented. I once dressed up in a Barney costume – big freakin’ head and all – for everyone at my eldest’s day care centre. And I tried to imitate the voice for a whole hour… tough job, man. But the kids bought it, including my own.

  7. You should look up some of the things Billy West (Futurama, Ren and Stimpy) has written on the subject of Hollywood celebrities taking work from professional voice actors. It’s very interesting stuff.

  8. I recognized a bunch of them, and hovered over them to confirm.

    But Ken, Family Guy is NOT a lot like South Park. Family Guy can be funny the first time you watch it, but heaven help you if you try to watch it again and again. South Park, on the other hand, can be watched a number of times without getting old. I refer you to the two-part South Park episide “Cartoon Wars” (Canadian link)

    Incidentally, another reason South Park is better than Family Guy (in Canada, at least) is that you can watch every episode uncensored online for free (on the comedy network’s website); Global only has the last few episodes of Family Guy. I’m not going to say anything about the Cleveland show.

    – RG>

  9. Jazz – Cool. Mr. Jazz is A Voice.

    Trashee – Barney the purple dinosaur? (shudder). Shame on you. What a revolting character.

    Darrell – I can understand that. Eddie Murphy sounds like Eddie Murphy no matter what sort of an ass he’s supposed to be voicing. Although there is a lot of cross-over these days anyway. Most of the voice actors now also do regular acting. And actors do voices and cut albums and have talk shows and run for political office.

    Grouchy – “The Cleveland Show”… good grief. I reckon it’s just a way for Seth to milk his success

  10. Mel Blanc is one of my heroes! (along with Chuck Jones, who directed a big chunk of those cartoons). I think they should both get a Nobel Prize or something for making this planet a happier place.

    Seth McFarlane is a genius. If you search on Youtube, he recently addressed the graduating class of a big Ivy-League college (might have been Harvard or Yale). He did it in character, includiong Peter, Stewie, and Quagmire. It was hilarious!

    BTW, did you know Edna Crabapples voice is done by the actress who played Carol the receptionist in the original Bob Newhart show?

    Apparenlty, the poor woman wasn’t doing well financially a while back. Now she’s back in the limelight with a plum job.

  11. Grouchy – I said “similar”, not “a lot like” 😉

    I think the Comedy Network broadcasts South Park uncensored on Friday nights. I remember watching one night and being caught completely off-guard with the language… And then I realized it was late Friday night 🙂

  12. I like to do voices and odd sounds, unfortunately not everyone finds that amusing…well some do at first, but after awhile it can get old, so now I just do them to amuse myself. I have this great sneeze like Donald Duck thing I do, everyone under 10 thinks is awesome.

    It’s only insanity if you hear voices talking in your head right?

  13. Ken – I’ll forgive you.

    XUP – The thing that bothers me most about the Cleveland show is that it’s like the dumping ground for all the jokes that are too racist for Family Guy, but are somehow OK when your characters are in blackface (I mean how many of the voice actors on that show are white???)

    (Did you change something with the subscriptions? I had to confirm subscribing, which made me miss a few comments in my inbox)

    – RG>

  14. Friar – Yes, I recognized Marcia Wallace as Edna Krabappel’s voice right away. (HA!) I think we should invite Seth MacFarlane to come and address the next Ottawa Bloggers’ event.

    Ken – I don’t think I’ve ever watched South Park. (Horrified gasps all around). I don’t have cable, so that’s probably why I’ve never seen it.

    Cedar – Right. As long as the voices are coming out of your mouth and at least one other person is amused by them, you’re fine. Gesundheit.

    Grouchy – I’ve changed nothing. Didn’t you have this same problem on someone else’s blog? Have you ever thought it might be you?? I think I’ve only seen the Cleveland show once. I never thought Cleveland was that interesting. If they’re going to do a spin-off, the Brian Show or the Stewie Show or even the Chris Show would have been more entertaining. The only possible reason for choosing Cleveland for a spin-off must be, as you say, to dump all the racist jokes.

  15. @XUP

    When I saw these unrecognized faces, I thought maybe they were A-List bloggers.

    And I was worried:

    OMG. XUP’s gone all “Social Media” on us, sucking up to the Cool Kids.

    But I’m greatly relieved to see that’s NOT the case, that you were merely paying homage to the cartoon voices we all love.


    …Don’t SCARE me like that again!

  16. PS.

    You probably couldn’t make a spin-off of Quagmire (he’s a bit too creepy).

    And Stewie and Brian need the rest of the family there to act as foils….I think standing alone, they’d be overexposed.

    And Joe…well, between all the shows Patrick Warburton has been on, he’d also be overexposed.

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Warburton )

    (And even if they did make a Joe Show…I suspect the handicapped lobby would protest…).

    So, before we all start playing the race card, maybe the Cleveland Show is what it is at face value…a cheap, lesser spin-off designed to make Seth more money.

  17. I OWN a numbered copy of that poster…. its brilliant, not “cute”.
    Actually the funniest part of that video above was at 1:55 ON.
    Mind you if I had said that then y’all would have been hunting for my head.

  18. Friar – Sorry for scaring you. And as a heads up – tomorrow’s post is NOT going to be about fishing. My initial impression of the purpose of the Cleveland show was that it was a final milking of the success of Family Guy. But also, I think because he lends himself to more raw humour than the rest of them.

    Lebowski – Anyone who says stuff like that would be hunted down and maimed – not just you. I can’t really understand how he gets away with it. They’re animated characters, that helps. He’s clearly established that they’re horrible people with almost no redeeming qualities so we expect nothing good or intelligent from them. The Simpsons couldn’t get away with that stuff because even though they’re animated and stupid and really horrible sometimes, they do have some values and endearing qualities. In short, if you establish yourself as a really horrible sub-human with no redeeming qualities, you, too can say anything you want. People will still yell at you though, because you’re not a cartoon.

  19. Pingback: Reading Digest: Movie Leftovers Edition « Dead Homer Society

  20. Funny, a coworker and I were talking about voice actors the other day. (We were mostly talking about South Park, and in particular Cartman singing “Poker Face” in the Whale Whores episode.) I’m so impressed by people that can not only do voices but can maintain those voices even when singing.

  21. Hola soy Jose, esta viendo la pelicula de woody woodpecker, barney gumble. En La Pelicula de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble.

  22. esta viendo la pelicula de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble? en el cine de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble. De La Pelicula de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble? El Pánico de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble.

  23. En La Pelicula de Woody Woodpecker, Barney Gumble? Claro Woody Woodpecker? ¿Que es eso? El Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble. En Casa del Pájaro Loco? Aqui Está El Pájaro Loco. Puedo ir al Domingo Que Viene Barney Gumble. Es que El Pájaro Loco Terminó a Barney Gumble? Voy a Decir a Barney Gumble? En La Carretera del Coche.

  24. El Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble Comiendo Unas Palomitas? en el cine del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble Jugando a Bubsy 3D. Unas Gafas del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble ¿Que Tal? Pájaro Loco. Voy a Callar El Pájaro Loco? Pájaro Loco Esta pegando a Barney Gumble. Venga Pájaro Loco.

  25. Un Circo del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble? Voy a Hablar por el Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble. No me río Pájaro Loco? Venga Pájaro Loco. en Casa del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble? Tirando el Chicle del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble. en Agencia Tributaria? del Pájaro Loco y Barney Gumble. Pues claro que sí Pájaro Loco? Quiero Marchar el Pájaro Loco ya esta bien Barney Gumble.