10 Voice Actors Who Shaped Your Childhood and You Didn’t Even Know It

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Mixx] [Reddit] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
As kids, it's hard to understand the difference between what we see on TV and the way things exist in the real world. At some point, most of us probably thought the characters of our favorite shows were actually tiny people who lived inside our TV sets. Of course, that means the actors in live-action roles got some credit from your five-year-old self, while the people who helped bring your favorite cartoons to life didn't exist in your mind. These cartoons helped teach you valuable lessons, entertained you through countless bowls of sugary cereal on Saturday mornings, and today, still bring back strong memories of your childhood. It's finally time to reveal the actors whose voices gave personality to your animated friends and to give them credit for influencing our lives.
  1. Mel Blanc

    There's no way you've gone through your life without hearing the voice of Mel Blanc. He was even known as "The Man of a Thousand Voices" for his more than 50 years of voice work for radio and animated television. Blanc provided the goofy vocals for most of the infamous Looney Tunes characters during Warner Bros. best years, including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, and Porky Pig. So many members of the Looney Tunes cast were given life by Blanc that most episodes could be created without the voice of anyone else. These characters, especially Bugs Bunny, were such a large part of Blanc's persona that when coming out of a coma after an accident, he responded as Bugs and other cartoon personalities before he would respond as himself.

  2. Pinto Colvig

    There are few things that children enjoy more than slapstick comedy and exaggerated guffaws and bellows. That's one of the reasons Disney's Goofy has always been a favorite. Pinto Colvig, who happens to be a real Bozo (no really, he was the original Bozo the Clown), lent his talents to the silly dog from 1932 to 1967 with a small break somewhere in the middle. Sticking to the dog family, Colvig's voice is also used for Pluto's barks. Though you might think anyone voicing Goofy would have to keep with funny, good-natured protagonists, Colvig also played Grumpy the dwarf in Snow White and Bluto in the Popeye franchise.

  3. Kevin Clash

    Kevin Clash is a guy that you would've appreciated when you were young, but once you got a little older, you probably wanted to beg him to stop doing this voice. As the man behind the annoying but lovable red monster, Elmo, on Sesame Street, Clash has taught generations of children important life lessons and the importance of tickling. Of course, the maniacal laughter of Tickle-Me-Elmo is still dancing in our ears, making us despise Clash's voice just a little bit. Clash made up for this, though, by providing the wise words of Splinter, the sensei rat, in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.

  4. Daws Butler

    If you're looking for someone to blame for all the people who are attacked when they try to feed bears their picnic lunch, blame Daws Butler. He's the Hanna-Barbera legend responsible for Yogi Bear, along with the flamboyant Snagglepuss and hillbilly Huckleberry Hound. But his contributions didn't end there. He also spoke for Elroy Jetson (along with a few other Jetsons characters), Cap'n Crunch, and Quick-Draw McGraw, and he trained some other master voice actors. His students include the voices of Bart Simpson and Captain Marvel.

  5. Ben Burtt

    Ben Burtt doesn't consider himself a voice actor as much as a sound designer. He creates a lot of sci-fi noises for very famous movies, including Star Wars, in which he created the sounds of lightsabers and blasters. But his voice does sometimes come into play when he's looking for a way for other-worldly creatures to express themselves. For instance, many of the whistles and beeps of R2-D2 were made with Burtt's voice and a synthesizer, and the heavy breathing of Darth Vader that we've all imitated at some point was created with Burtt's breath and a scuba regulator. The expressive sounds of WALL-E's title character were also provided by Burtt.

  6. Don Messick

    If you ever watched Scooby Doo help those meddling kids catch bad guys dressed as ghosts, you are familiar with Don Messick's work. Scooby's scaredy-cat personality comes across to kids because of the time Messick put into crafting the vocals. The raspy, goofy dog voice was just one of many that Messick became famous for performing. He gave personality to another cartoon dog — Astro on The Jetsons. From voicing Yogi's sidekick, Boo Boo, in the '50s to Papa Smurf in the '80s to Tiny Toons' Hampton J. Pig in the '90s, Messick helped entertain and make memories for generations of children.

  7. Bill Melendez

    Most of us grew up reading Peanuts in the newspaper's comics section, and Snoopy was an undeniable favorite from the Peanuts gang. When it came time to create a television series and holiday specials out of the strip, the animators had to figure out how to give Snoopy a way to talk without creating a world where dogs speak English. Producer Bill Melendez racked his brain trying to come up with the right sound, something that didn't sound like just any other dog. Up against a deadline, Melendez recorded his voice at a slow speed and then sped it up. The result was a perfect sound for Snoopy. Melendez also voiced Woodstock, Snoopy's funny bird friend.

  8. Jean Vander Pyl

    Every strong-willed, prideful man on a sitcom or cartoon needs a smart woman by his side to tell him when he's wrong. One of these modern-type women who happened to be from the Stone Age was Wilma Flintstone. She kept Fred in line even when he and Barney were pulling stupid stunts. Her voice had to be just as strong as her actions, and the woman for the job was Jean Vander Pyl. She gave Wilma the spunk needed to make The Flintstones a success. She also provided the personality for another sassy "woman." Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons used Vander Pyl's voice, as well.

  9. Phil Harris

    The Jungle Book was a movie that made every kid feel like they could live out in the wilderness in nothing but a loin cloth. And the main reason they felt up to the challenge is because Baloo the bear had convinced us all that we could get by with the bare necessities (and by eating ants). Baloo's voice was provided by bandleader and radio star Phil Harris, whose smooth, low voice gave the bear an easygoing and hip attitude. You might recognize his sound from other Disney movies, since he also played Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats and Little John in Robin Hood.

  10. Rob Paulsen

    Animaniacs was the perfect combination of ridiculous stunts and learning. Sure, there were the slapstick antics that are mandatory in good cartoons, but kids learned about pop culture, history, and of course, how to take over the world. Rob Paulsen was the voice behind a few important characters, including Yakko, Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, and Pinky, a role that earned him a Daytime Emmy. Another of his famous characters is Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and he's lent his talents to more than 250 animated personalities throughout his career.