Hidden Talent — Voices

This is “Off the Beaten Path,” a collection of Web sites that you might want to visit. Some sites might be broadcast-related or a link to a great old video, while others might be a link to really cool new technology. Each week I’ll share some of the more interesting sites and group them in these regular blog posts.

As most of us know, Don Pardo, probably the most senior and well-known voice in the voiceover world passed away recently. For this episode of “Off the Beaten Path,” we’ll have some fun looking at voiceover people.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to do some voiceover work over the years from the Cannes Film Festival to radio stations in London and Belfast, but compared to the people in the videos and links below, I’m in the “Pee-Wee League of voiceover talent.” It’s a competitive business with a handful of people doing much of the voiceover work.

A couple of my voiceover friends (from Facebook and through work) include Jerry Immel of Atlanta ... often heard during national televised awards shows, commercials, etc.; John O’Hara of Belfast, Ireland, who is one of the Emerald Isle’s most well-known voices, and Joel Godard who (like Jerry & John) is in the “major league” of voiceover work and very well-known for being the voice of Conan O’Brien for many years (and a fine actor to boot!) I also need to mention a fellow Dover (Ohio) High School graduate who you’ve heard in his company’s movies... Bob Peterson. Bob was Dug the Dog in “Up,” Mr. Ray in “Finding Nemo,” Roz in “Monsters Inc.” and “Monster U.,” and other Pixar movies.

First, let’s start with Dooooonn Paaardo. My friend, Don Archiable, worked with Pardo at NBC in New York. Don said Pardo was such a sweet and kind man. “He’d remind you of a loving grandpa.” Don said Pardo stood behind the opening and to the side where the guests would come out on the open of SNL and that he used an old RCA 44 for his voice work. Thanks to the Archive of American Television, we have two great videos of Don Pardo. The end of the first video is ironic but sweet. I never knew Mr. Pardo personally, but he sure seemed to be a great guy (and based on my voiceover friends, I’ve found most voiceover people to be pretty cool and down-to-Earth).

Here’s Pardo on warm-ups prior to the start of SNL and here he is on his voice style.

Lastly, here’s a wonderful video called a “Tribute to Don Pardo” from an NBC tribute. It includes his first announcing gig, dating back to World War II. Check out Darrell Hammond’s spot-on impression. In fact, Hammond once covered for Pardo on an SNL opening when Pardo was ill.

Mel Blanc, The Man of 1000 Voices, is best known for his incredible cartoon voices. There’s probably no American adult today who didn’t listen to Mel Blanc when they were growing up — whether they knew it or not. Here is a very old video of Mr. Blanc on a very young David Letterman show (1981).

TV network voiceover and movie trailer voices are very recognizable, though most of the time we’ve never seen them. These are fun to watch. This news story, “Million Dollar Voices,” includes the late Don LaFontaine who was well known for his “In a world where...” movie trailers and later his GEICO commercials.

For years and years, “Five Guys in a Limo” has been one of my all-time favorite voiceover guy sketches. This was a video comprised of five of the biggest voiceover people in the industry (some have passed away in the last year). I’ll let you watch it to see (and HEAR) these pros in action. It’s fun to see this sketch and how they included “the voice of Disney” in a section which was slightly more “adult rated.” This video is a hoot!

A very talented voiceover artist, plus writer, producer and singer is Seth McFarlane. It’s fun to see his behind-the-scenes work. (Note that “Family Guy” is NOT for kids and has material some may find offensive.)

Here’s a studio session. To bring it all together, here’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio” with James Lipton is the cast of “Family Guy.”

Though I haven't watched much of “Sponge Bob Square Pants,” here’s a video of some of the main character performing the first cartoon episode live.

And here’s a “blast from the past” with Ernie Anderson (Cleveland TV’s Ghoulardi) who became the voice of ABC in the 1980s. His voice will sound very familiar. You might remember his “Loooooovvvveeee Boat” promos on ABC. This is a video of him behind the scenes. Like Don Pardo and Don LaFontaine, Ernie is no longer with us, but his voice lives on.

And finally, a link to the trailer for a short documentary on the voiceover industry called “Unseen.” It’s a few years old and includes Melissa Disney who voiced the Emmy Awards a couple weeks ago.

Like other “Off the Beaten Path”s with a common theme, I could include pages and pages of links related to the topic at hand. I’ve tried to wrap up this edition a couple of times and keep coming up with more. So I’ll end this one for now and likely revisit it down the road with some of the many other famous voices of the past and some current ones. If you know of any you’d like me add or you have any interesting of fun links to share, please be sure to let me know.

Before I go, I should include links to my friends and mentors in the voiceover world (and some samples of my own “minor league” work): Jerry Immel, John O’Hara (and bonus), Joel Godard, Bob Peterson and yours truly.

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is dan_slentz@yahoo.com.

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