Have you ever wondered who the people were behind the famous voices?
The voice over industry isn’t one that is that well known when people think of professional performers. We know about actors, singers, musicians but very little credit goes toward the voice over artists. It takes a lot of training to be an artist just as it would be for any professional actor and if successful, it can be a lucrative business for those that work in the field. You don’t see their faces, but you know their voices.
However this little known about industry is growing rapidly. It’s been estimated that it’s only become a mainstream profession since the 1980’s, but its original roots lie in the early 1900’s with the success of radio.
The first well-known voice over artist was American Mel Blanc who was also known as the ‘Man of a Thousand Voices’ due to his talent in voicing countless different cartoon characters. He began his career in radio at the age of nineteen and is most famous for his work with cartoon animation when he became a prominent actor for Warner Bros later in life. He was essentially the main voice of the Loony Tunes crew.
Did you know that he was the voice for Bugs Bunny which he ended up doing for 50 years? He was also the original voice of Woody Woodpecker, Porky Pig, Tweety and Sylvester, Daffy Duck, Speedy Gonzalez, Barney Rubble of the Flintstones and Cosmo Spacely of The Jetsons to name but a few. He didn’t just do the voices, but he played the characters with exceptional acting talent.
He passed away in 1989 but his legacy still lives on. There is no doubt that Mel gave voice artists recognition and helped turn it into a professional field as well as a lucrative business. On his burial site it reads the infamous line ‘That’s all folks.’
Don La Fontaine
Arguably the most famous individual in the voice over profession is ‘King of Voice Overs’ Don La Fontaine whose voice is most recognisable in movie trailers. Due to his deep, distinctive voice he has also been referred to as “Thunder Throat” and “The Voice of God“.
He is best known for the famous line used in may trailers: “In a World…”
His other famous lines include: “A one-man army…,” “No-where to run, no where to hide and no way out…”
La Fontaine never intended on acting – he started off as an audio engineer. Funnily enough, he fell in to the voice over profession by accident in 1964 when he had to fill in for an unavailable voice actor. That unexpectedly started his career and began a path that led him to be as successful as he was. At his most active he did about seven to ten voice overs in a day.
Up until his death on 22nd August 2008, he voiced more than 5,000 movie trailers. These include films such as Batman Returns, Friday the 13th, Law & Order, Shrek and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. According to the BBC, he was one of the busiest actors in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.
His voice was one of the most recognisable in the entertainment industry, and La Fontaine insisted he never cared that no one knew his name or his face.
Are there any other famous voice over artists that you know of?