CLOSE

10 Legendary Cartoon Voices (and where else you may have heard them)

Well, there goes more of my childhood. Lucille Bliss, better known as the voice of Smurfette, passed away last week at the age of 96. While she was probably known best for her role as the Smurf Village sweetheart, Bliss enjoyed a 60-year career in Hollywood. Her long list of famous parts includes Anastasia, Cinderella's wicked stepsister; the "Kanine Krunchies" commercial singer in 101 Dalmatians; and Mrs. Fitzgibbons in The Secret of NIHM.

My six-year-old mind would have been totally blown to learn that the lovely Smurfette was the same person as the horrible Anastasia. Here are a few others that would have boggled my brain — and might surprise you as well.

1. Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright, AKA Bart Simpson, has also been the voice of Rufus on Kim Possible, Kip Kangaroo on Shirt Tales and, for a few episodes, Chuckie on Rugrats. Plus, extreme fans of Who Framed Roger Rabbit might recognize her as the voice of the "dipped" shoe. OK, probably not.

2. Billy West

stacy4.jpgNo doubt you've heard Billy West but perhaps you've never heard OF him (or maybe it's just me who is really oblivious). This guy is all over the place. For five shows, he gave Stimpy a voice on Nickelodeon's Ren and Stimpy; he's been Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Pepe Le Pew and Elmer Fudd on various projects since the 1996 movie Space Jam; and he was the voice of Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, Leo Wong and President Richard Nixon's Head on Futurama. Howard Stern fans will remember West as the voice of the Jackie Puppet and various other characters from 1989-1995. And he's also the current voice of Buzz, the Honey-Nut Cheerios Bee (Wikipedia claims Sterling Holloway was the original Honey-Nut Cheerios Bee, but we can't find anything to back that up.)

3. Eleanor Audley

I have to mention Eleanor Audley because she is the voice of the psychic whose head is floating in the crystal ball at the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion. In addition to being in my favorite theme park attraction ever, Eleanor Audley was also Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother in Cinderella. I guess she just had a perfectly sinister voice.

4. Verna Felton

Verna Felton is another voice actress the Disney company frequently employed. She was one of the fairy godmothers in Sleeping Beauty (Flora), Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp, the fairy godmother in Cinderella, and, my personal favorite, the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland.

stacy6.jpg

5. Patrick Warburton

Seinfeld fans know Patrick Warburton as Elaine's on-again-off-again boyfriend David Putty. His voice is so distinctive, though, that it's easy to place it when you hear it coming through the screen. Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove? That's Patrick Warburton. Joe Swanson, the cop on Family Guy? Brock Samson from the Venture Brothers? Buzz Lightyear in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, the TV show that followed Toy Story? Patrick Warburton. High five.

stacy7.jpg

6. Mae Questel

Although voluptuous Betty Boop and skinny-as-a-broomstick Olive Oyl couldn't be much different, they are actually the same person: Mae Questel. Interestingly, it looks like she didn't do Betty's voice from about 1939 until Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988. Though she's not a cartoon character, it may also interest you to know that Questel played Aunt Bethany in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Is your house on fire, Clark?

7. Daws Butler

stacy8.jpgThe Hanna Barbera world is just as entwined as Disney and Warner Brothers. Daws Butler is probably best known for being the voice of Yogi Bear, but he was also Elroy Jetson, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, Peter Potamus and Wally Gator. He also earned a lifetime of free breakfast cereal (at least I like to think that) when he provided the voices for both Cap'n Crunch and Snap of elf trio Snap, Crackle and Pop. For a time he held an actor's studio out of his home, where one of his students was none other than Nancy Cartwright.

8. Scatman Crothers

stacy9.jpgMy number one super guy used to be Hong Kong Phooey (sorry). His voice, Scatman Crothers, had a career that spanned many genres. One of his first voice-over jobs was with Disney as the appropriately-named Scat Cat in the Aristocats (not to be confused with The Aristocrats). He then jumped to Hanna-Barbera to provide the voice for Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters of Harlem Globetrotters and Scooby Doo fame. And although this is decidedly not a cartoon, I love the fact that Hong Kong Phooey was creepy Dick Hallorann in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

stacy10.jpg

9. Tress MacNeille

Another favorite of mine was Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. It came as quite a shock that Chip and Gadget were both voiced by the same person - Tress MacNeille. I looked her up and it turns out she voices about a million Simpsons characters. OK, so it's more like 17 (plus some minor characters). Those include Mrs. Skinner, Dr. Hibbert's wife, Apu's wife, the crazy cat lady, Lunchlady Doris and Plopper, the pig from The Simpsons Movie. She also voices multiple characters on Futurama, was Babs the Bunny on Tiny Toon Adventures and Dot on Animaniacs.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
arrow
entertainment
13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Getty Images
arrow
Big Questions
How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
Getty Images
Getty Images

The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios