Cartoons have always brought a smile on the faces of millions across the globe. Seeing our favorite characters, some almost a century old, on the screen gives great joy even today. The millennials had a plethora of animated shows to see, as back then, entertainment was watching television and not social media. Some of the characters like Mickey Mouse or Scooby-Doo have become more famous than the most Hollywood movies!
Behind every successful character, there is a human voice. And it is these voice artists which make the characters more enjoyable and relatable. Here is a list of fascinating facts and stories about 10 great voice actors behind some of the most famous cartoon characters:
1. Dan Castellaneta, the voice artist behind the famous Homer Simpson, made some spelling mistakes while recording the show which went on to become iconic lines of the longest-running animated show.
Dan Castellaneta, the famous voice actor and comedian, provided the voice for Homer Simpson of The Simpson cartoon series. He also provided the voice for several other characters in the show like Abraham Simpson, Krusty, Mayor Quimby, and Hans Moleman.
Though Dan gave some memorable moments to the characters, this particular incident in the fifth season’s opening episode was unintentional but became extremely popular. During the “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” episode, Dan misspelled the word “Smart” as “S-m-r-t” while recording the song “I am So Smart” which Homer sings while burning his degree. The outcome sounded so funny the writers felt that it was perfectly suited for the character of Homer, and so retained it without correction. The song became an instant hit and went on to become a favorite among the fans. (1, 2, 3)
2. Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor, the voices actors for Mickey and Minnie Mouse respectively, are married in real life.
Mickey and Minnie have been a part of the childhood of millions around the globe. The cartoon pair has been a favourite among children for almost a century. Mickey’s voice has been supplied by Wayne Allwine since 1977 and Minnie’s by Russi Taylor since 1986. Wayne continued to provide the voice Mickey for a record 32 years until his death in 2009, Russi still provides the voice for Minnie!
Interestingly, Wayne and Russi got married in real life, just like Mickey and Minnie, and had been married until Wayne’s death. In 2008, they were named as “Disney Legends” and inducted in the Hall of Fame of the Walt Disney Company. They are one of a rare list of couples who played and provided the voice for couples in both professional and personal lives. (1, 2, 3)
3. When trapped in a coma, Mel Blanc, the voice behind the famous Bugs Bunny and several other iconic characters, was unresponsive, but then a doctor asked, “Can you hear me, Bugs?” And Blanc responded weakly, “Myeeeeh. What’s up doc?”
Looney Toons has been one of the best cartoon shows of all time, and Bugs Bunny has been among the best animated characters of all time—the cheeky voice, witty dialogues, and brains faster than a computer. Bugs has been a favourite of people across ages. And the man behind this magic voice was Mel Blanc, who apart from Bugs, voiced many other characters like Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Porky Pig, and many more. He is often credited as “The Man with 1,000 Voices,” and rightly so!
Known for his unparalleled hard work and dedication for his work, Mel Blanc probably worked the most for Bugs Bunny. This was evident when Mel met with a near-fatal accident in 1961. After suffering fractures in his skull and several other bones, he went in to a coma for two weeks. One day, the neurologist tried a unique way of waking him up and asked, “Can you hear me, Bugs?” Surprisingly, after a slight pause, Mel replied, “Myeeeh… What’s up Doc?” Doctors treating Mel said that Bugs Bunny saved his life! (1, 2)
4. Matthew Lillard, the voice artist behind Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, originally screamed until his voice went hoarse and scratchy to achieve his voice for the iconic character. He even did it in his car before his audition at Warner Bros in L.A.
Almost every kid from the 90s has seen The Scooby-Doo Show, and Shaggy is probably the funniest and most enjoyable cartoon character of the lot. When Casey Kasem, the voice behind Shaggy since 1969, retired in 2009, Mathew Lillard was called for an audition.
However, the preparation that Matthew did was unheard of. Usually, voice artists always want their throats to be clear and in good condition, Matthew Lillard did something the opposite. He screamed at the top his voice just before the audition. He wanted to his voice to become hoarse as he thought it would perfectly suit the weirdly funny character of Shaggy. He was right and has been the voice for Shaggy since 2009. (1, 2)
5. Tara Strong, the voice artist behind some blockbuster characters like the Powerpuff Girls, Rugrats, Teen Titans, Hello Kitty, Ultimate Spider-Man, Princess Mononoke, and many more, was given a visa to the U.S. as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability.”
Tara has been the voice behind powerful animated characters like Bubbles (Powerpuff Girls), Raven (Teen Titans), and even Ben Tennyson (Ben 10)! She started working when she was 13 and first voiced the famous cartoon character, Hello Kitty. Ever since, she has grown to be at the top of her industry, and deservedly too.
Tara Strong is a Canadian and migrated to the US to pursue her career as a voice artist. Interestingly, because of her phenomenal talents, she was granted the visa as an “Alien of Extraordinary Ability.” This type of visa is granted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services to any foreigner who possesses and demonstrates extraordinary skills in the field of sports, science, or the arts. So, only elite individuals make it to this list. Some other names living or having lived under this unique visa category include singer John Lennon (the UK), fitness expert Avtar Nordine Zouareg (Algeria), and tennis star Monica Seles (Yugoslavia). (1, 2, 3)
6. Matthew Broderick, who voiced Simba of The Lion King (1994), was a trained Broadway singer but could only voice the speaking role of adult Simba in The Lion King and Simba’s singing voice was provided by Joseph Williams and Jason Weaver.
The Lion King is one the most iconic cartoon series on the Jungle System. The storyline of the series has been quite engaging and appealed to audiences of all ages. The lead animated character, Simba, was voiced by the renowned actor Matthew Broderick in all three movies of The Lion King franchise.
However, it is lesser known that though Broderick is a trained singer, he decided not to sing for the movie. Therefore, in spite of the fact that Boderrick often sang in his own movies, to dub the songs for The Lion King, Toto lead singer Joseph Williams and actor Jason Weaver were invited. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was recorded by Joseph and “Hakuna Matata” by Jason. (source)
7. Robin Williams, the voice behind genie from Aladin, agreed to voice the iconic cartoon only after Disney synced the genie doing actual stand-up comedy from Williams before ever approaching him.
After seeing Aladin, most of the viewers yearned and wished they had the magical lamp. And frankly, we all wanted to have a genie, didn’t we? The concept narrated in the film was mind-blowing, especially the character of the genie. The genie was voiced by actor and comedian Robin Williams, but his selection has an interesting story to it.
While preparing the script and storyline, the writers had already chosen Robin for the genie’s voice but decided a unique way to approach him. Eric Goldberg created animations of the genie doing stand-up comedy from Williams’s shows. When Williams saw it, he was so impressed that he immediately agreed to do it. The genie went on to become one of the most famous animated characters of all time. However, there were other unique stipulations in the contract between Disney and Williams, like the genie wouldn’t be used in merchandising, etc. (1, 2, 3)
8. Peter Cullen, the voice actor behind Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, is the same voice as Optimus Prime of the Transformers, and the Predator movies!
Remember that sad donkey with no hopes and a low voice? Eeyore is whom we’re talking about! The only character in the Winnie the Pooh series which was dull and boring, yet an iconic win. The trademark depressing body language and low heavy voice made Eeyore an important part of the series. However, it is quite contrasting that Eeyore shares his voice with a cartoon character none other than Optimus Prime from Transformers.
Peter Cullen voiced Eeyore first from 1988-2011, and second from 2017 until today. He had great versatility in his voice which he used with great success. Apart from the depressed grey donkey, Cullen has voiced several other epic animated characters like Optimus Prime and even the Predator. Some of the other characters which Cullen voiced are KARR in Knight Rider and Red Skull from Spider-Man. (1, 2)
9. Adriana Caselotti, the voice artist behind Snow White, was forbidden by her Disney contract from appearing in films or on radio or television because it would spoil the illusion of Snow White.
Snow White is one of the oldest and most famous animated characters of all time. Even after almost a century since its release, the beautiful princess has continued to capture the hearts of the audiences even today. In the early days, the animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a huge hit and has constantly adapted in different forms.
However, for Adriana Caselotti , the voice behind Snow White, the movie was a bitter-sweet experience. Though she was chosen for the legendary character, it had its own cons. Disney wanted the realistic illusion surrounding the character of Snow White unspoiled, and so Caselotti’s contract forbade her from appearing in any film, radio channel, or television! This hampered her growth as an artist. As a result, even after the Snow White success, she couldn’t get the deserved recognition, and she could do only two other cartoon films. In 1994, she was named as a “Disney Legend,” though. (1, 2)
10. Mary Gibbs, who voiced Boo from Monsters Inc., was just a toddler during the production. Since the crew couldn’t get her to sit still and read her lines, they let her toddle around in the studio while following her around with a mic.
A little girl playing around and creating havoc in the monster world was what Monsters Inc. portrayed as a film, and in the funniest way. Audiences were mesmerized by the movie depicting wonderful animated characters, especially Boo, the little toddler. The cartoon character of the baby girl struck a chord with the masses unlike any other.
The artist who created that cute voice for Boo was just a toddler herself, only three years of age. She was the daughter of one of the film’s story artists, Rob Gibbs. Unable to make her sit in one place, the crew followed her everywhere on the sets with a mic and recorded the voices she created while playing. Boo, or Mary Gibbs, is now a grown-up college student and has left her career as a voice artist far behind! (1, 2)