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The Voices Of Hollywood

Richard Kimble

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Art Gilmore (1912-2010)




He narrated scores of TV shows, commercials, record albums, and other media, but for movie buffs he will always be The King of the Trailers.


From his NY Times obit:

As the narrator of countless movie trailers (his wife estimated he did 3,000), Mr. Gilmore was an especially effective pitchman, delivering the language of hype with masterful conviction. Comedies, thrillers, romances, musicals, animation, documentaries — it didn’t matter.  Among the films Mr. Gilmore promoted as coming attractions were “Dumbo,” “A Place in the Sun,” “Roman Holiday,” “Shane,” “Born Yesterday,” “Rear Window,” “South Pacific,” “War and Peace,” “Ocean’s 11,” “White Christmas” and “Bye Bye Birdie.” 


“The screen jumps for joy with Glendon Swarthout’s inside story of those uproarious Easter vacations,” Mr. Gilmore pronounced in the trailer for “Where the Boys Are,” a 1960 comedy about college girls on the make.  “Never before has any film contained such a full measure of the joy of living,” he asserted in the trailer for Frank Capra’s life-affirming small-town tale from 1946, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


For the 1953 science-fiction thriller “The War of the Worlds” he declared: “This could be the beginning of the end for the human race!” And in a virtuosic bit of melodramatic recitation, he described Alfred Hitchcock’s loopy and masterful psychodrama “Vertigo” (1958) as “the story of a love so powerful it broke through all the barriers between past and present, between life and death, between the golden girl in the dark tower and the tawdry redhead that he tried to remake in her image.”



He could do any genre, and had impressive range:




But IMHO he was best suited to comedy and lighter material, making Paramount the perfect studio for him.




He can be seen in the trailer for The Big Clock:



While perhaps his best role was in this classic Joe McDoakes short:





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Thank you for this, Doc! I've been wondering for YEARS now who the man behind that voice was who we've heard doing all those voice-overs in all those 1950's era movie trailers.


And so, and in keeping with this theme, last week while TCM was showing their Alan Arkin tribute and particularly when they were showing "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter", I was reminded of what a great voice actor Percy Rodrigues possessed, and who portrayed the kindly doctor that film.





And so, I googled the gentleman and discovered that he also did a few notable trailer voice-overs, and the one trailer many people of a certain age might remember most would be the following one...


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  • 3 weeks later...

Robert Rietti, “The Man of a Thousand Voices” who dubbed for several James Bond villains and uttered every single Orson Welles line heard in the 1972 film Treasure Island, died April 3, The Times of London reported. He was 92.


When filmmakers wanted to rerecord dialogue after production was done or if they needed lines translated to other languages for movies to play in other countries, they often turned to the prolific Rietti, who worked for more than seven decades as an actor and voiceover artist.


Many of his 256 acting credits found on IMDb list his character as “voice, uncredited,” and the London native said he spoke for an incredible 98 characters alone on Waterloo (1970), which starred Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer and Welles, a longtime friend.


“Sometimes, a director will be happy with the physical performance of an actor on the screen but not like his voice, in which case one has a great deal of license to change everything,” Rietti said in a Film 94 profile of him that aired on the BBC. “But on other occasions, when the person is well-known on the screen, one doesn’t want to change his voice, so then one must serve him and really take the best from what he does.”


In the latter case, he imitated Welles’ famous baritone as Long John Silver for Treasure Island. “There’s not a word of his on the original track,” he said. “It’s all my voice, I am afraid, doing Orson Welles.”


Rietti also provided the voice of the cold-blooded, eyepatch-wearing Emilio Largo (portrayed onscreen by Adolfo Celi, who spoke with a thick Italian accent) in Thunderball (1965), and he spoke as the cat-loving evil genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld (this time played by Englishman John Hollis) in another Bond film, For Your Eyes Only (1981).


“In nearly every Bond picture, there’s been a foreign villain, and in almost every case, they’ve used my voice,” he once said.


It was Rietti whom audiences heard out of the mouth of British Intelligence chief John Strangways (Tim Moxon), who is killed near the start of the first Bond movie, 1962’s Dr. No. Rietti is then heard a couple of minutes later, replacing the voice of another character at a card table.


His Bond work also includes dubbing as Japanese secret service agent Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tanba) in You Only Live Twice (1967), donating several voices to Casino Royale (1967) and appearing onscreen in Never Say Never Again (1983).


Rietti voiced multiple characters in the Agatha Christie film Ten Little Indians (1974), once again stepping in for, among others, Celi. “When people didn’t realize that was not his voice, he achieved many international films, and I had a job for life,” he said with a grin during the BBC piece.


Rietti appeared as a child actor in such films as The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), starring Leslie Howard, and later was heard (and even seen!) in such films as The Italian Job (1969), The Omen (1976) and Hannibal (2001).


Rietti replaced Plummer's voice for some scenes in The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969) so that American audiences could more clearly understand his words, and he dubbed for Robert Shaw in Avalanche Express (1979) after the actor died of heart attack.


He voiced “Number Two” in some episodes of the ITV show The Prisoner and often stood in, orally, for veteran English actor Jack Hawkins, who had lost his voice to throat cancer.


Rietti also can be heard on such noteworthy films as The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Doctor Zhivago (1965), Barbarella (1968), Frenzy (1972), Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Trail of the Pink Panther (1982).


Of course, few knew the voiceover expert was involved with any of these pictures.


“The simple answer to the question of whether Robert has received the recognition that he deserves is no, he hasn’t,” Julian Granger of the British Film Institute says in the short documentary, The Man With the Thousand Voices. “Hardly anyone knows about the work he’s done. Which I think is a terrible shame.”


by Mike Barnes

4/19/2015 2:26pm PDT







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  • 1 year later...

Dick Tufeld (1926-2012) was the voice of the Disney TV shows for what seemed like decades. And he looked nothing like I pictured him.




He's probably best remembered as the voice of the Robot on Lost In Space.





Dick Tufeld tells how he came up with the voice for the Robot.

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Verna Felton (1890-1966): Another radio veteran (Great Gildersleeve, Jack Benny Program, Suspense, Red Skelton, December Bride, etc... she was a busy one on the air waves) remembered today as a Disney voice and ironically passing away less than 24 hours before Walt himself. Started out as an elephant in Dumbo and ended as an elephant in The Jungle Book.




"Aren't they graceful? You used to dance like that Flo."



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Shortly after that photo was taken, Mel Blanc was in a horrible car accident. They recorded the show from his hospital room for awhile.


It's always exciting for me when I spot great voice Thurl Ravenscroft in a movie. He sings a line at the very beginning of THE MUSIC MAN (or is it OKLAHOMA?), I think.


Too handsome to hide:



More often voice actor Paul Frees is spotted on film.




Whenever I hear that voice, I'm instantly transported to Disneyland in the 60's.

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Mel Blanc started doing cartoon voices for Leon Schlesinger/Warner Brothers right about the same time his radio career was just taking off in the years 1936-37. He was mostly doing sound effects in the early years, like Carmichael the Polar Bear in vintage 1939 Jack Benny Programs. What is fun about that show is that you hear the voices of Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales and Barney Rubble several years before their on screen creations, just with different character names.


Posted this one before: Mel "Melvie" and Bea "Beatrisie" Benadaret sounding rather Rubble-ish almost six years before The Flintstones.




Yet most of the others were in radio for a while before getting tapped for the cartoons.


No really great episode of Suspense or Escape was complete without Paul Frees. Co-starring with zany Hans Conreid is even better! As aired on CBS on October 1, 1947, pre-Captain Hook and Ludwig Von Drake.




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  • 1 month later...



Bill Thompson was a a busy radio actor, notably on the Fibber McGee and Molly show. He's best remembered for the voice of the character "Wallace Wimple", using a voice he'd created a few years earlier. He would later use this Wimple voice for Droopy in MGM cartoons.


Bill Thompson as a contestant on To Tell The Truth (1959):




Bill Thompson as Wallace Wimple:









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Billy Bletcher was a voice actor in many classic-era cartoons, especially for Disney: he played The Big Bad Wolf, as well as Mickey Mouse's nemesis Pete. He can be seen -- but not heard -- in this late '60s root beer commercial, where he plays two roles: the first Keystone Kop and the Ford Sterling-ish desk sergeant.



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Harold Peary,  That great voice and laugh behind THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE , after that stint was done did several voice over and appearaces in many TV commercials.  He was quite popular here in the Detroit area as  on-screen spokesman for FAYGO brand soft drinks in the '70's.




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  • 6 months later...



Daws Butler (November 16, 1916 – May 18, 1988) was an American voice actor who specialized in voicing animated films and television series. He worked mostly for the Hanna-Barbera animation production company where he originated the voices of many familiar characters, including Wally Gator, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Spike the Bulldog, and Huckleberry Hound.







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What I didn't know was that "A Soldier's Story" (1984) Oscar nominee Adolph Caesar was originally the voice of most great grindhouse trailers of the late 60's and early 70's--


When you hear that one true blaxploitation-style voice, it's probably Caesar's:

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Mae Questel was Olive Oyl, Betty Boop, and Aunt Bluebelle:



THANK YOU for that link-adorable!


I am often amazed at how similar in voice Cyndi Lauper is to Questel. Obviously she is the vocal for Pee Wee's Playhouse opening theme.


I often confuse Mae Questel and Helen Kane. Both ladies were adorable and claim to have voiced Betty Boop. Anyone know the real story behind these claims?

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I often confuse Mae Questel and Helen Kane. Both ladies were adorable and claim to have voiced Betty Boop. Anyone know the real story behind these claims?


Helen Kane was the singer who invented "Boop-boop-be-doop", Mae Questel popularized it as Betty's voice.

And, as she pointed out to Bob Hoskins in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", she's still got it.

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