Here at Warming Glow, I’ve made a habit of praising the brilliant voice work in “Archer,” particularly the dry, deadpan delivery of H. Jon Benjamin in the title role. Yet Benjamin is just as believable as the schlubby burger joint owner on “Bob’s Burgers” as he is an international super-spy. I realized that I don’t know jack about voice actors aside from a few names in the “Simpsons” credits, so I tapped Josh Kurp to make a list of ten names you should know. You may be surprised the way some of these people get around like HPV. They’ve got longer IMDb pages than Christopher Walken. –Ed.
The world knows him as Homer (and Grampa, and Mayor Quimby, and Groundskeeper Willie, and Barney Gumble, and Gil, and…), but Dan Castellaneta has done plenty of other voice work, including portraying another senile old man, Grandpa Phil on “Hey Arnold!” He was also Earl on “Cow and Chicken” and replaced better-known actors in animated series based on their famous films, like taking over for Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in “Back to the Future: The Animated Series” and Robin Williams in “Aladdin.”
Not-So-Memorable Role: Partlow in My Giant
Richard Steven Horvitz
Four years after appearing in the ill-advised “The Monsters Today” (starring Jason “Not James” Marsden as Eddie Munster), Horvitz began his voice acting career as my second favorite talking TV robot: Alpha 5 from “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” (note: if you combine all the various “Power Rangers” series, there have been over 700 episodes). This role largely required him to say “Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!” a lot and sing “Deck the Halls” in Alpha’s Magical Christmas. After the show was canceled in 1995, he began a successful stint with Nickelodeon, voicing Daggett on “The Angry Beavers,” getting Beaver Fever in the process, and Zim on “Invader Zim,” as well as Billy on “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy”. (My favorite talking TV robot, by the way, is Karishma from “Karishma Kaa Karishma,” which I really should have included in my now incomplete remakes list.)
[Editor’s picks for talking robots: Bender from “Futurama,” the Robot from “Lost in Space,” and Rosie from “The Jetsons.” I won’t be held responsible for Kurp’s weird taste.]
Not-So-Memorable Role: Additional Voices in Mulan
I can’t be the only person who didn’t know that Spinelli from “Recess,” Bobby from “King of the Hill,” Lucky from “101 Dalmations: The Series,” and Marcy from “Californication” (as well as the woman who tells Louis C.K. that she fantasizes about hitting her son because she’s bored on “Louie”) are all the SAME PERSON. Adlon, who broke into the business playing Dolores in Grease 2, has had a crush on T.J. Detweiler as Spinelli, gotten gout as Bobby, had an episode banned because of 9/11 as Lucky, and had sex with this man as Marcy.
Not-So-Memorable Role: McNugget #3 in The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: The Visitors from Outer Space
Kenny has a best-of-both-worlds thing going for him: he’s loved by comedy nerds for his time on “Mr. Show with Bob and David” and one of the best episodes of “Futurama” (“The Luck of the Fryrish”), but he’s also commercially successful: he’s the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants. Outside of playing a talking yellow sponge, he’s also been a talking yellow steer (Heffer, “Rocko’s Modern Life”), a talking yellow unholy creation (Dog, “CatDog”), and a talking yellow-ish rat (Ratbert, “Dilbert,” a show I had completely forgotten about until now). Also worth mentioning: Carlos Alazraqui, who voiced Rocko, also played Deputy James Garcia on “Reno 911!”
Not-So-Memorable Role: Wheelie and Skids in Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, a.k.a. the racist ones
I’m really glad that when I was a kid, I didn’t know Christine Cavanaugh — the voice of Chucky on “Rugrats,” Gosalyn Mallard on “Darkwing Duck,” Marty Sherman on “The Critic,” and Dexter on “Dexter’s Laboratory” — was kind of hot. That would have made me pretty confused about a lot of things—I mean, more confused than finding out Oblina and Babe are one in the same.
Not-So-Memorable Role: Voice from Recycle Rex
Mark Hamill/Billy West
I’d feel like I’d be cheating if I didn’t mention Hamill and West, arguably the two most famous voice actors working today. Hamill, of course, is the Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series” while West plays Philip J. Fry in “Futurama.” But did you know Hamill also played Hobgoblin in “Spider-Man: The Animated Series,” Fire Lord Ozai in “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” and Senator Stampingston in “Metalocalypse”? Or that West was Stimpy in “Ren & Stimpy” and Doug Funnie in “Doug”? Yeah, you probably did. They’re pretty awesome.
Not-So-Memorable Roles: Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and Bugs Bunny in Space Jam
Wayne Allwine/Russi Taylor
Here’s a good trivia question: who voiced Mickey Mouse for the longest amount of time? The obvious answer is Walt Disney, but that’s incorrect—although Disney voiced Mickey from 1928-1947, that’s nothing compared to the third Mickey, Allwine, who played the world’s most famous cartoon character for 32 years, including the TV series “The New Mickey Mouse Club” and “House of Mouse.” In 1991, he married Taylor, the voice of Martin Prince on “The Simpsons” and Huey, Dewie, and Louie on “DuckTales.” She was the Minnie to Allwine’s Mickey — literally. She voiced Minnie on “House of Mouse,” too, and the two remained married until Allwine’s passing in 2009.
I once had the opportunity to interview Mr. Welker, the highest-grossing actor of all-time, who has appeared on seemingly every animated show ever created: “The Simpsons,” “South Park,” “Scooby Do, Where Are You?,” “Animanics,” “Beetlejuice,” “Family Guy,” “Futurama” (he’s Nibbler), “Robot Chicken,” and many more . It was only an e-mail interview, so I didn’t actually get to hear him speak, but that was fine by me: I’d rather he save his voice on something more important than a silly interview with a stupid “journalist”—like being the voice of another generation’s childhood.
Not-So-Memorable Role: Seig Heil the spider monkey from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Like most of the people on this list, you’ve probably never heard of Barry Gordon, but you’ve almost certainly listened to his voice at some point. Not only did he play Donatello and Bebop in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (it must have been weird when he was fighting himself), but he’s also the current Nesquik Rabbit. You now have a perfectly good reason to hate Mr. Barry Gordon, along with the fact that at the age of six he recorded “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” a song that tries to be as cute as a corgi but ends up as putrid as a puli.
Not-So-Memorable Role: Roger Hightower on “A Family for Joe”
I sometimes think that voice acting must be the greatest work in the world. It’s tough, sure, but it’s not as tough as on-screen acting—plus, once you’ve made it, like LaMarche has, and if you’re good, like LaMarche is, you’re almost guaranteed to get roles until you retire. LaMarche is the voice of Kif/Morbo/Calculon from “Futurama,” the Brain from “Pinky and the Brain,” Toucan Sam and Pepe LePew in Space Jam, Orson Welles on “The Critic,” and Egon on “The Real Ghostbusters,” a show with the dream cast of Frank Welker as Ray and Slimer, Dave Coulier as Venkman, and Arsenio Hall as Winston. ROO ROO ROO
Not-So-Memorable Role: Ketchuck on Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Animated Series
Honorable Mention(s) (Live Action/Cartoon Splits)
In “Superman: The Animated Series,” Daly voiced Clark Kent/Superman, the embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way. In “The Sopranos,” Daly played J.T. Dolan, a former drug addict forced to write the screenplay for Christopher’s movie, Cleaver, before SPOILER…
…getting popped in the head by Christopher. Now that’s the American way.
Steve Urkel was basically a cartoon character: he had an increasingly obnoxious catchphrase and the way his body moved defied the laws of physics, as seen here—he was even on cereal boxes and t-shirts. So it’s not surprising that the actor who portrayed him, Jaleel White, would try for a voice actor career, too, which he found success with, portraying the titular hedgehog on “The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog” for 65 episodes.