You Know Their Faces, Do You Know Their Voices?
Here’s a beginner’s list of famous actors who have appeared as voice talent in cartoons:
HANK AZARIA has been a voice star of The Simpsons since 1989. The voice of Apu, Chief Wiggum and Dr. Nick Riviera, Azaria also has a career as an actor. Besides television guest appearances, he has appeared in the feature films Gozilla(1988), Mystery Men (1999) and America’s Sweethearts(2001).
Another regular cast member of The Simpsons was the late comedian PHIL HARTMAN. Hartman made frequent appearances as the voices of actor Troy McClure and shyster Lionel Hutz, as well as other minor characters. Hartman was once a regular cast member of Pee Wee’s Playhouse (1981, with Paul Reubens), Saturday Night Live (1986-1994) andNews Radio (1995-98). He also appeared in the feature filmsBlind Date (1987), So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) andJingle All The Way (1996).
Actress MILA KUNIS first made a name for herself as the dim-but-manipulative girlfriend of Ashton Kutcher in the TV sitcom That 70s Show (1998-2006). Now she’s known as the co-star of Hollywood movies such as The Book of Eli (2010, with Denzel Washington) and Black Swan (2010, with Natalie Portman). While building her film career, Mila Kunis was also lending her voice to TV animation. She’s an original cast member of Seth MacFarlane’s cartoon, Family Guy — Kunis voices the character of daughter Meg Griffin. Poor Meg, the one nobody seems to care about. But enough about her. Mila Kunis has also been a regular voice on the stop-motion animation series Robot Chicken since 2005.
PEGGY LEE was best known as a torch singer, but in 1955 she took a side trip into animation. Lee wrote songs and recorded voices for Walt Disney‘s canine romantic comedyLady and the Tramp. (She voiced Peg, the dog who is jilted by Tramp, as well as the cats Si and Am and the human Darling.) Years later Lee and Disney tangled in a lawsuit over royalties from videocassettes, a medium that didn’t exist when the film was made. Lee prevailed; according to a 2002Los Angeles Times report, Lee “was paid $3,500 a week for her work in the 1955 film, but in 1991 was awarded $3.83 million in videocassette profits.”
Television actor and game show regular PAUL LYNDE was a familiar face throughout the 1960s and ’70s. A regular onBewitched and the original wise-cracking “center square” onHollywood Squares, Lynde was also the voice of Sylvester Sneekly, the villain of the cartoon The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.
RODDY MCDOWALL was a Hollywood star for most of his life, getting his start in the movies in 1938’s Yellow Sands. He appeared in dozens of movies, including How Green Was My Valley (1941), Kidnapped (1948), Inside Daisy Clover (1965, with Natalie Wood) and, perhaps most famously, in the original Planet of the Apes (1968). In his later years, McDowall did voice work for several cartoons in the ’90s, including Batman: The Animated Series, Pinky and The Brainand The Tick. He died in 1998.
ED ASNER is still Lou Grant to most people, even if he hasn’t been in that role since 1982. Asner doesn’t appear in many television roles these days — but he can be found there just the same, if you listen carefully to the cartoons. Asner’s voice roles in the 1990s included stints on Batman: The Animated Series (Roland Daggett), Gargoyles (Hudson) and Freakazoid!(Sgt. Cosgrove). And he made a big splash as the grumpy star of
Veteran character actor and Oscar winner ERNEST BORGNINE made his career playing some pretty tough hombres in movies such as From Here to Eternity (1953) andJohnny Guitar (1954). After more than fifty years in the business, his appearances on television and feature films number in the hundreds, including a few cartoons. Borgnine has lent his voice to the All Dogs Go to Heaven series of movies and TV specials (he’s “Carface”) and to the feature film Small Soldiers (1998). In the Nickelodeon cartoon seriesSpongebob Squarepants, he appears occasionally as the voice of Mermaid Man (whose sidekick, Barnacle Boy, is voiced by Tim Conway, Borgnine’s co-star in the 1960s television comedy McHale’s Navy).
DANA DELANY will always be remembered as Nurse Colleen McMurphy on ABC’s China Beach, a role she started in 1988. The role made her a TV star, but she never quite made the leap to the big screen. In the 1990s she landed a voice role on the animated Superman series as Lois Lane.
TOM BOSLEY was ahead of his time. Before he was Richie Cunningham’s father on Happy Days, Bosley was the voice of Harry Boyle in Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, a prime time cartoon that ran two seasons in the early 1970s. His distinctive voice is still around, from commercials to the syndicated cartoon series David the Gnome (1985).
ADRIENNE BARBEAU is an actress you don’t see much of these days. But she was the voice of Catwoman in the animated Batman series. 1970s retro fans remember Barbeau from TV’s Maude, where Barbeau played Maude’s strong-willed daughter, Carol; 1950s retro fans remember Barbeau as the original Betty Rizzo in the Broadway version of Grease.
RICARDO MONTALBAN was Mr. Roarke on ABC’s Fantasy Island, and even better as Khan in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Before all that fantasy and wrath, Montalban was a Hollywood leading man, category: Latin Type. During the 1990s Montalban did voice work on the cartoon seriesFreakazoid!.
Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space 9 was played by actor RENÉ AUBERJONOIS, a veteran of film, television and cartoons. Auberjonois played various parts on Scooby Doo, Where Are You? in its original run, and in the 1990s he was busy with voice roles in Batman: The Animated Series (Dr. March) andMighty Max (Arachnoid).
The world of Star Trek spawned several voice actors. In the animated series Gargoyles, bad guy Xanatos was voiced by,JONATHAN FRAKES who played Commander Will Riker onStar Trek: The Next Generation. Frakes’ co-star, MARINA SIRTIS (Deanna Troi), was the voice of the not-so-sweet Demona, in the same cartoon.
Gargoyles also used the voice talents of TIM CURRY, but who didn’t? Curry, whose most famous screen role is that of Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, can be heard all over the cartoon universe. He has voiced characters for Duckman, Freakazoid!, The Mask, Tiny Toon Adventuresand The Wild Thornberries.
MARK HAMILL is always going to be recognized as Luke Skywalker, but he’s not exactly known for his range as an actor. Unless, that is, you take into account his voice roles. He was the voice of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, and had various roles in the cartoons SwatKats,Spiderman, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest andB.R.U.N.O. the Kid (which starred movie star BRUCE WILLIS).
Remember Wilbur, straight man to Mr. Ed? Actor ALAN YOUNG is still around, after more than forty years in television. You may have heard him in recent years in Disney’s cartoon Ducktales, a series that started in 1987. Young was Scrooge McDuck .
Not to be confused with the sweet adventures of Ducktales, the syndicated animated comedy Duckman starred the voice talent of JASON ALEXANDER, the song-and-dance man who became known to millions of TV viewers in the 1990s as George Costanza on Seinfeld. Duckman ran from 1994 to 1997.