It is impossible to pinpoint the year I discovered voices. Specifically, voice overs. You know, the people behind the scenes who give voice to cartoon characters, who narrate commercials, and who do those dramatic trailers for movies.
Somewhere along the line, I learned that Mel Blanc’s “voice supplied the sound effects for the comedian Jack Benny’s antique “Maxwell” automobile’s gasping and wheezing and struggling to crank up. More widely recognised as the voice of virtually every major character in the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon, including Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety & Sylvester both, Yosemite Sam, et al.”
I wanted to be the next Mel Blanc.
Or, better yet, I wanted to be Paul Frees. “An American actor, impressionist, voice artist, and comedian, known for his work on MGM, Walter Lantz, and Walt Disney theatrical cartoons during the Golden Age of Animation and for providing the voice of Boris Badenov in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. He became known as “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” Frees was often called upon in the 1950s and 1960s to “re-loop” the dialogue of other actors, often to correct for foreign accents, lack of English proficiency, or poor line readings by non-professionals. These dubs extended from a few lines to entire roles. Unlike many voice actors who did most of their work for one studio, Frees worked extensively with at least nine of the major animation production companies of the 20th century (like) Walt Disney Studios and Walter Lantz Studios.” (Wikipedia)
Later, that awesome voice of Don LaFontaine seemed to be behind EVERY movie trailer! Wikipedia says he “recorded more than 5,000 film trailers and thousands of television advertisements, network promotions, and video game trailers. He became identified with the phrase “In a world…”, used in so many movie trailers that it became a cliché. Widely known in the film industry, the man whose nicknames included “Thunder Throat” and “The Voice of God”, became known to a wider audience through commercials for GEICO insurance and the Mega Millions lottery game. . . At his peak, he voiced about 60 promotions a week, and sometimes as many as 35 in a single day. Once he established himself, most studios were willing to pay a high fee for his service. His income was reportedly in the millions.” (Wikipedia)
I love the part where the article says, “LaFontaine eventually built a recording studio in his Hollywood Hills home and began doing his work from home.” Oh, yeah! That’s for me. I cobbled together many home studios during my career.
“In a world” even became a movie. My son Sean told me about that movie, so I watched it ASAP. It gets more in to the personal lives of the characters than their studio work, but the interesting part for me is the idea “like father, like daughter.” Since I have done a gazillion voice-overs (none on a national level), it has been fun to hear my son create a few of his own.
My first radio gig was in high school, and I have been at it ever since. To make a long story short, voice over work has been my life-long ambition. Way above my desire to be a professional (SAG) actor. To be LIKE Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, and Don LaFontaine.
The only thing better would to BE Paul McCartney.
But that’s another story.