Continuing through our daily tour through the alphabet, today we discuss a man I’ve admired for years, and who we wouldn’t be talking about today if he hadn’t changed his name…
Mel Blanc, from 1959. Public Domain, from Wikipedia
Mel Blanc was “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” having supplied the voice for almost all the Warner Brothers cartoon characters, with the notable exception of Elmer Fudd (Arthur Q. Bryan provided Elmer’s voice until his death in 1959; Blanc took over for him afterwards). Later, he did voices for Hanna-Barbera (he provided Barney Rubble’s voice on The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely’s voice on The Jetsons), and supplied vocal effects for MGM’s Tom And Jerry, a cartoon created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. He also provided vocal effects on Jack Benny’s radio show and showed up on Jack’s TV show in the Fifties and Sixties.
He was born Mel Blank in San Francisco, and later moved to Portland, Oregon, where he graduated from Lincoln High school. As I said, had he not changed his name to Blanc when he started out in the industry, I wouldn’t be talking about him, because he wouldn’t fit my theme.
At one time, I had given some thought (not too serious) about becoming a voice actor like Mel, but I gave it up when all my characters sounded the same. When I listen to him now, I realize that all he did was to change his voice slightly for each character, and that they all sounded similar. What was amazing was the way he could play two different characters in the same cartoon and give each one a slightly different personality. An example is between Foghorn Leghorn and his nemesis, Henery the Chicken Hawk…
Or Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam…
Here’s Mel in a commercial for American Express.
Mel died in 1989 of heart disease and emphysema, but leaves behind a legacy for countless other voice actors to emulate.
Tomorrow, we start with “C” and end with “D.” See you then!
from The Sound of One Hand Typing