These people made our entire childhoods, unless you didn't have a TV that is. They're also the voices behind some of our favorite animated characters. Within the past decade, voice actors have been entering the limelight more than ever before. However, their skills and talent are still grossly underrated and unappreciated. Especially, when it comes to casting parts in big Hollywood animated productions. But, that's a topic I've already crossed over. Let's just appreciate these twelve actors below for the acting titans they are.
13. Eric Bauza
Bauza has been working in the industry since 2000, however he started as a character designer. Currently, he provides the voice of Belly Bag on the popular Cartoon Network show Uncle Grandpa, Tiger Claw on Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Puss in Boots on The Adventures of Puss in Boots and other roles on many separate cartoon shows. Bauza's also a comedian who's performed at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles. He's also a gifted impressionist, as he's performed a flawless rendition of Dr. Benton Quest on Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Marvin the Martian on The Looney Tunes Show and Stimpy on Ren & Stimpy "Adult Party Cartoon". You should hear his Jeff Bridges impression.
12. Phil LaMarr
Some of you may know him as Marvin from Pulp Fiction, but for over three decades LaMarr has held a fruitful voice over career. At 16, his first role was on the Mister T animated series. Since then, he's cultivated a menagerie of colorful characters. From Static (Static Shock), Samurai Jack, Carver Descartes (The Weekenders), Hermes Conrad, Wilt (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) and many more. At Yale he founded the improv group Purple Crayon and he collaborated with The Groundlings. Aside from animation, he was a featured player on the sketch show MADtv. There he imitated celebrities Chris Rock, Prince, Sammy Davis Jr. and Michael Jackson.
11. Corey Burton
Like LaMarr, Burton began his career as a teen when he was hired to imitate Hans Conried for Disney. He trained with voice acting pioneer Daws Butler for four years. Burton's work has been heavily involved with Disney. As he's presently the official voices of Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Professor Ludwig Von Drake and Dale the Chipmunk (such as on Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers). He's also portrayed Hugo Strange (Batman: Arkham City), Brainiac (Superman: The Animated Series), Mr. Narwhal (Elf) and Count Dooku on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
10. John DiMaggio
Vocally responsible for one of TV's most popular smart asses. DiMaggio has been in the business since the 90's. Before then he was apart of a popular comedic duo known as "Red Johnny and the Round Guy", where he also performed beatboxing (which has been featured in one of the intros to Futurama). Some of DiMaggio's most prominent voice credits include Jake the Dog (Adventure Time), Bender "Bending" Rodriguez (Futurama), Doctor Draken (Kim Possible), Fenix (Gears of War series) and Fu Dog (American Dragon: Jake Long). In 2013, he produced, narrated and appeared in a documentary called I Know That Voice, where he and his fellow colleagues delved into the world of voice over.
9. Kevin Michael Richardson
During his formative years, Richardson was one of eight high school students out of the U.S. to be chosen for the National Foundation for the Arts' "Arts '82" program. As a result of the scholarship, he was also featured on a PBS program directed by acclaimed actor and acting instructor John Houseman. Due to his booming and deep voice, he's had a penchant for playing antagonists. Such as Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Joker (The Batman), Gantu (Lilo & Stitch: The Series) or Skulker (Danny Phantom). However, he's equally voiced as many protagonists or anti-heroes: Oswidge (Dave the Barbarian), Principal Lewis (American Dad) or Plato (Adventures from the Book of Virtues), for example.
8. Grey Griffin formerly Grey DeLisle
A talented vocalist, musician and actress. Griffin was originally a comedienne who incorporated voices into her stand up act. One night, someone approached her about trying voice acting. She'd go on to train with noted actress and friend Mary Kay Begman. Griffin would later on succeed the role of Daphne Blake from Bergman after her passing. Her resume is versatile as she's acted as villains, seductresses, heroes, boys and elderly women. Some of her famous roles include: Sam Manson (Danny Phantom), Catwoman (Batman: Arkham City), Frankie (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends), Vicky (The Fairly Odd Parents), Mandy (The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy), Azula (Avatar the Last Airbender) and Daphne Blake (Scooby Doo Franchise).
7. Cree Summer
Summer's the daughter of musician Don Francks and dancer Lili Red Eagle. Her first role was Penny on Inspector Gadget. This part broke the surface as casting directors noticed the young actress and began hiring her for more and more cartoons. Summer would go on to voice notable characters such as Number 5 (Codename: Kids Next Door), Foxxy Love (Drawn Together), Valerie Gray (Danny Phantom), Princes Kida (Atlantis: The Lost Empire) and Susie Carmichael (Rugrats). Summer is also a gifted singer, as she's collaborated with other artists such as Lenny Kravitz and Jasmine Guy. In 1993, her band Subject to Change released an album.
6. Billy West
West's preliminary start to VO began in the 80's when he was performing voices on Charles Laquidara's Big Mattress radio program on Boston's WBCN. In 1988, he moved to NYC and a year later he joined The Howard Stern Show. There he comically imitated numerous celebrities from Lucille Ball, Sammy Davis Jr., Doris Day, Mia Farrow, Elton John, Johnny Carson...And that doesn't even scratch the surface of his vocal repertoire on the show. His introduction to animation began with the 80's revival of Beany and Cecil, a program produced by John K, who he'd gone on to collaborate with in Ren & Stimpy, as the voice of Stimpy and (after John left) eventually Ren. In 1995, West left The Howard Stern Show and completely dedicated himself to voice over. Some of his fans' favorite characters from him are Doug Funnie (Doug), Phillip J. Fry/Captain Branigan/Professor Farnsworth/Dr. Zoidberg (Futurama) and Stimpy (Ren & Stimpy). West has also portrayed renowned cartoon icons: Elmer Fudd, Norville "Shaggy" Rogers and Bugs Bunny.
5. Rob Paulsen
His name is Robert Paulsen...In the 70's, he was a vocalist in a band called "Sass" and for a time they toured the US. In '78, he moved to California from Michigan to become an actor. As his career was developing he'd landed some small TV spots on MacGyver and St. Elsewhere and appeared in some live action films: Stewardess School, Body Double, Warlock and Mutant on the Bounty. Five or so years later he garnered his first VO role was on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. From there, he'd gone on to act in some of the finest animated shows such as: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (Raphael), Darkwing Duck (Steelbeak), Animaniacs (Yakko Warner/ Pinky/ Dr. Scratchnsniff), Goof Troop (P.J. Pete), Nick's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Donatello) and so....many...more...Paulsen runs a podcast called Talkin' Toons with Rob Paulsen where he's interviewed fellow voice actors and hoed on live specials at Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and other venues.
4. Tara Strong
An inventor, singer and actress. Strong was 13 when she landed the role of Hello Kitty on Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater (her first big role). And after three decades she's collected quite the resume, 417 credits to be exact (from her IMDB page). Some of her most prominent roles are Twilight Sparkle (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Bubbles (The Powerpuff Girls), Toot Braunstien/Princess Clara (Drawn Together), Timmy Turner (The Fairly OddParents), Ben Tennyson (Ben 10), Raven (Teen Titans) and Harley Quinn (after succeeding the role from Arleen Sorkin). Strong also patented a baby bottle that's freezer safe and has a twistable calendar to set an expiration date for breast milk.
3. Jim Cummings
Cummings was managing a video store in Anaheim, California when he garnered his first animation gig on Dumbo's Circus in 1984. He continued the role of Winnie the Pooh from Hal Smith in 1988 and two years later he replaced Paul Winchell as Tigger. Cummings involvement with Disney didn't cease there as he voiced Darkwing Duck (on the show of the same name), King Louie/Don Carnage (Tale Spin), Razoul (Aladdin), Pete (Goof Troop), Bonkers (same name) and Dingo (Gargoyles). He also portrayed antagonists in two Hollywood animated features: Balto (as Steele) and The Road to El Dorado (as Hernán Cortés).
2. June Foray
At the age of 97, she's still bringing life to animated characters. Foray's career began at 12 when she started performing in radio programs. Five years later, she and her family moved to Los Angeles where she continued doing radio and commenced voice over. Foray's voice can be heard in the golden, silver and bronze age of animation. Famously as Granny in the Looney Tunes Shorts (succeeding Bea Benaderet), Ursula (George of the Jungle), Rocky the Flying Squirrel (The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) and Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Many voice actors today highly regard Ms. Foray as being an influence and animator Chuck Jones said himself, "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc is the male June Foray." In 1995, the June Foray Award was established.
1. Frank Welker
John DiMaggio once referred to Welker as being a "voice acting god". He was originally a comedian who incorporated animal sounds into his act and after seeing one of his setups an agent approached him to audition for Scooby on Scooby Doo. He didn't get the part, however, he landed the role of team leader Fred Jones, which he still plays to this day. You know, It's pretty incredible that at almost 70 years old and after four decades he's still able to sound like an authentic teen.
He performed other prominent cartoon individuals: Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget), Dr. Raymond Stantz (The Real Ghostbusters), Barney Rubble (A Flintstones Christmas Carol), Kermit (Muppet Babies) and Megatron (The Transformers). I'd also like to mention he'll be making a rare appearance at BotCon from June 18-21 2015. Click here for more info--http://www.botcon.com/BotCon2015/