Archive for August, 2009


From the Mouths of Babes…or Were They?

In the world of animation,  there have always been cartoons featuring children’s voices.  However, those who provided the voices were not always children.  I can think of at least four adult voice artists who provided children’s voices in cartoons.  Two of these had a natural advantage while two more were just very skilled at their craft.

To the extent it’s possible to consider advertising icons as cartoon characters, Dick Beals began his illustrious career as a cartoon voice artist in 1952 as the voice of Speedy Alka Seltzer.  Speedy was a character  Wade Advertising in Chicago created for Miles, Inc., the manufacturer of Alka Seltzer.  Wade auditioned hundreds of actors and actresses for the role of Speedy, which eventually went to Beals.  Over the ensuing decades, Beals would provide the voices of such cartoon characters as Dan and Yank in “Roger Ramjet”,  Tiny Tom in “The Lone Ranger”, Arthur Spacely in “The Jetsons”, Buzz Conroy in “Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles”, Davy Hansen in “Davy and Goliath”, and the titular character in “Gumby.”  Beals was able to provide the voices of children in cartoons throughout his career due to a glandular condition which prevented him from going through puberty.  To this day, Beals is less than five feet tall and weighs less than 100 pounds.

Like Dick Beals, Walter Tetley had a glandular condition that prevented him from going through puberty.   Tetley was perhaps best known as  the voice of Sherman, Mr. Peabody’s “pet boy” in the “Peabody’s Improbable History” segments of “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”

Daws Butler was, obviously, one of the most prolific cartoon voice artists of all time.  His considerable voice actor credits go beyond the scope of this entry.  Among the juvenile cartoon characters to his credit are Elroy Jetson of “The Jetsons”, Aesop, Jr. from the “Aesop and Son” segments of “Rocky and His Friends”, Beany from “Time for Beany”, Lambsy from the “It’s the Wolf!” segments of “The Cattanooga Cats”, and Augie  Doggie from, originally, “The Quick Draw McGraw Show.”

There is not much I can say to contribute to the considerable volume of  information already in existence on the legendary June Foray.  To say that she is good at her craft would be a huge understatement.  I remember seeing an interview years ago with June in which she talked about one of the more famous characters to whom she gave voice, Rocket J. (Rocky) Squirrel on “Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show.”   In the interview, June said she tried to project the voice of a little boy into Rocky, so I think Rocky would definitely qualify as one of the child characters to whom June gave voice.   The credits in the small screen version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (which I will get into in a future post)  mention only Boris Karloff as a voice (that of The Grinch), but it was June’s voice that made a brief appearnce as Little Cindy Lou Who.  Another animated child character for whom June provided her voice was Karen from the animated Christmas special, “Frosty the Snowman” (the little girl who befriended Frosty).

The sources of information for this post were the Voice Chasers web site, the WFMU blog site which has information on the career of Walter Tetley and the Advertising Icon Museum web site, which includes information on the origin of Speedy Alka Seltzer.  As has been my custom since creating this blog, I have included video clips relating to the information covered in this post. 


“I’ll Get You, Penelope Pitstop!”

There were two cartoons that were spinoffs of “Wacky Races.” One was “Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.” The other was “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.” While watching the latter not long ago, I happened to notice that the introduction made reference to the show starring, “those seven rollicking rescuers, The Ant Hill Mob.” For what reason(s) did Penelope not rank starring status on her own show? I’ve never heard an explanation of this, but I have included a clip of an opening from the show that confirms Penelope was not mentioned as the star. Such a snub is, I suppose, one of those mysteries of the cartoon world to which we may never find an answer.


Edward Everett Horton

The following is a story I heard regarding a conversation which took place between Edward Everett Horton and legendary cartoon voice artist June Foray.  Horton, among other things, was the narrator of the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segments on “Rocky and His Friends”/”The Bullwinkle Show”/”The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.”  Foray provided the voices of Natasha Fatale and Rocket J. Squirrel on “Rocky and Bullwinkle”,  etc.,  as well as the voices of various characters on “Fractured Fairy Tales.”

To set up the story behind this post, I was active on Yahoo Groups at one time (and am kicking around the idea of a possible eventual return).  One of the Yahoo Groups mailing lists I was on was called “ForayFansForum”,  the list owner of which was an expert on all things June Foray.  He told the story that, one day when the vocal cast of “Rocky and Bullwinkle”, etc.  was recording an episode, Foray remarked to Horton that she admired the sweater he was wearing. Horton responded that he received the sweater as a gift when he was in high school. Keeping in mind that “Rocky and Bullwinkle”,  etc., debuted on November 19, 1959 and Horton was born on March 18, 1886, he would have had to have been at least 73 years old at the time he and Foray had this conversation, meaning that Horton had owned the sweater he was wearing for well over 50 years.

I’ve included a clip from YouTube that is an episode of “Fractured Fairy Tales.” The episode is titled “Leaping Beauty” and is a parody of the “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale.

August 2009
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