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The Faces Behind 7 Famous Voices

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From Orson's booming voice on Mork & Mindy to Nanny's soothing maternal tones on Muppet Babies, some of the most memorable characters in film and television are the ones we never see—until now. Check out the faces behind seven of the most recognizable voice characters ever.

1. Douglas Rain: Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Had Stanley Kubrick and company gone with an alternate version of the script, Canadian actor Douglas Rain wouldn’t have had a job as the eerily calm HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey at all. Early drafts featured Discovery One’s computer as a woman named Athena. Prior to his iconic voicework, Rain was known mostly for his work on the stage, including four decades with the Stratford Festival in Ontario.

2. Barbara Billingsley: Nanny from Muppet Babies (1984-1991)

Casting directors knew what they were doing when they hired Barbara Billingsley to provide Nanny’s motherly-sounding voice on Muppet Babies: She’s best known for her role as iconic mom June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver. Billingsley received two Daytime Emmy nominations for speaking for the lady behind the striped socks.

3. Bernadette Birkett: Vera Peterson from Cheers (1984-1993)

George Wendt presumably has a happier marriage than his Cheers alter ego Norm Peterson. Though Norm frequently complained about his wife, Vera, George has been happily married to Vera’s voice, actress Bernadette Birkett, since 1978.

4. Carol Ann Susi: Mrs. Wolowitz (a.k.a. Howard's mom) from The Big Bang Theory (2007-2014)

Carol Ann Susi started acting in the 1970s and had roles in everything from Sabrina, The Teenage Witch to Coyote Ugly. What she may have been known best for, however, was providing the grating voice of Mrs. Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory. When Susi died of cancer last year, producers decided she was so unique that they couldn’t possibly hire anyone else to provide Howard’s mother’s voice. Instead, they had the character pass away in her sleep.

5. Ralph James: Orson from Mork & Mindy (1978-1982)

Ralph James did a lot of voice work for cartoons. You may know him as Doctor Doom in Spider-Man or as Mr. Turtle in the old Tootsie Pop commercials. But if you ever watched Mork & Mindy, you’ll definitely recognize his commanding voice as Orson, Mork’s boss from the planet Ork.

6. John Forsythe: Charlie from Charlie's Angels (1976-1981)

Charlie's Angels Wikia // Getty

Charles Townsend may have gone unseen on Charlie’s Angels, but actor John Forsythe was pretty high profile. Not only was he the man behind the Angels’ missions, he also played Blake Carrington on Dynasty. It’s said that Forsythe’s role as Charlie made him one of the highest paid actors in television when you calculated his rate on an hourly basis: Because he didn’t need hair or makeup and had no interaction with other actors, Forsythe could record his lines in minutes and be on his merry way.

7. Frank Welker: Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget (1983-1985)

If you still have fond memories of a raspy voice declaring “I'll get you next time Gadget... next tiiiiime,” you have Frank Welker to thank. Welker’s range is shockingly broad: he was the Inspector Gadget villain, obviously, but also Fred in Scooby-Doo, Gogo Dodo on Tiny Toon Adventures, the Beagle Boys on Ducktales, and countless others.

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16 Geeky Coasters to Keep Your Coffee Table Safe
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Avoid unsightly ring stains on your coffee table with this delightful selection of coasters:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. FLOPPY DISKS; $22.79

Floppy disks are not obsolete—at least in your living room area.

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2. MARIO; $20

Mario Question Mark Block Coaster Set
Etsy

Unfortunately, no coins will be coming out of these coasters, but they will keep your table dry.

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3. GAME OF THRONES; $12.99

Game of Thrones coasters
HBO Shop

Avoid a royal mess with house sigils of houses Targaryen, Stark, Baratheon, and Lannister.

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4. PACMAN; $20.95

Use these on a black table to recreate the retro video game.

Buy on Epic Giftables.

5. AGATE; $35

Rock on: These fancy agate coasters will look solid resting under your glass.

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6. ELEMENTS; $56.99

These glowing coasters are perfect for chemists, Breaking Bad fans, and anyone who forgot to pay their electric bill.

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7. BUILDING BLOCKS; $19.99

Build your own coaster with this LEGO-esque design.

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8. STAR TREK; $16.63

Star Trek ship coasters
Amazon

This ceramic set celebrates all the best ships from Star Trek.

Buy on Amazon.

9. DR. WHO; $22.99

Just make sure you don’t accidentally send your glass into a different time period when you set it down.

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10. RILAKKUMA; $1.95

Rilakkuma coaster
Bonanza

Cover your counter space with the cute face of Rilakkuma.

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11. HARRY POTTER; $50

Set of wood burned coasters featuring the crest of each Harry Potter house
Etsy

All the houses are present in this set of wood coasters.

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12. FALLOUT; $25

fallout coasters
Etsy

Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean all manners go out the door: Never forget to use a coaster!

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13. BRAIN; $19.99

This set comes with 10 coasters, each with a slice of brain specimen. When you’re not using them, you can stack them together to create a full brain.

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14. THE LAST AIRBENDER; FROM $13

Aang and his entourage face off on these wooden coasters.

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15. BUFFY AND CO; $20

Getting totally wigged by the idea of a stained table? All your favorite characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer can give you an assist.

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16. STUDIO GHIBLI; $25

Studio Ghibli Stone Tile Coasters
Etsy

These coasters feature scenes from the classics My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle.

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15 Educational Facts About Old School
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DreamWorks

Old School starred Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin, an attorney who—after catching his girlfriend cheating, and through some real estate and bitter dean-related circumstances—becomes the leader of a not-quite-official college fraternity. Along with his fellow thirtysomething friends Bernard (Vince Vaughn) and newlywed Frank (Will Ferrell), they end up having to fight for their right to maintain their status as a party-loving frat on campus.

The film, which was released 15 years ago today, marked Vaughn’s return to major comedies and Ferrell’s first major starring role after seven years on Saturday Night Live. Here are some facts about the movie for everyone, but particularly for my boy, Blue.

1. THE IDEA ORIGINATED WITH AN AD GUY.

Writer-director Todd Phillips was talking to a friend of his from the advertising industry named Court Crandall one day. Crandall had seen and enjoyed Phillips's movie Frat House (1998) and told his director buddy, “You know what would be funny is a movie about older guys who start a fraternity of their own.” After being told by Phillips to write it, he presented Phillips with a “loose version” of the finished product.

2. SOME OF THE FRAT SHENANIGANS WERE REAL.

While Crandall received the story credit for Old School, Phillips and Scot Armstrong received the credit for writing the script. Armstrong put his own college fraternity experiences into the script. “We were in Peoria, Illinois, so it was up to us to entertain ourselves," Armstrong shared in the movie's official production notes. "A lot of ideas for Old School came from things that really happened. When it was cold, everyone would go stir crazy and it inspired some moments of brilliance. Of course, my definition of ‘brilliance' might be different from other people's.”

3. IVAN REITMAN HELPED OUT.

Ivan Reitman, director of Stripes and Ghostbusters, was an executive producer on the film. Phillips and Armstrong wrote and rewrote every day for two months at Reitman’s house, an experience Phillips described as comedy writing “boot camp.”

4. THE STUDIO DIDN’T WANT VINCE VAUGHN.

Vince Vaughn in 'Old School' (2003)
DreamWorks

It didn’t seem to make a difference to DreamWorks that Phillips and Armstrong had written the role of Bernard with Vince Vaughn in mind—the studio didn't want him. After his breakout success in Swingers, Vaughn had taken roles in dramas like the 1998 remake of Psycho. “So when Todd Phillips wanted me for Old School, the studio didn’t want me,” Vaughn told Variety in 2015. “They didn’t think I could do comedy! They said, ‘He’s a dramatic actor from smaller films.’ Todd really had to push for me.”

5. RECYCLED SHOTS OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY WERE USED.

The film was mainly shot on the Westwood campus of UCLA. The aerial shots of the fictitious Harrison University, however, were of Harvard; they had been shot for Road Trip (2000).

6. VINCE VAUGHN FANS MIGHT RECOGNIZE THE CHURCH.

In the film, Frank gets married at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. Vaughn and Owen Wilson were in that same church two years later for Wedding Crashers (2005).

7. WILL FERRELL SCARED MEMBERS OF A 24-HOUR GYM.

Frank’s streaking scene was shot on a city street. As Ferrell remembered it, one of the storefronts was a 24-hour gym with Stairmasters and treadmills in the window. “I was rehearsing in a robe, and all these people are in the gym, watching me. I asked one of the production assistants, ‘Shouldn’t we tell them I’m going to be naked?’ Sure enough, I dropped my robe and there were shrieks of pure horror. After the first take, nobody was at the window anymore. I took that as a sign of approval.”

8. FERRELL REALLY WAS NAKED.

Ferrell justified it by saying it showed his character falling off the wagon. “The fact that it made sense was the reason I was really into doing it, and why I was able to commit on that level," Ferrell told the BBC. "If it was just for the sake of doing a crazy shot, then I don't think it makes sense.” Still, Ferrell needed some liquid courage, and was intimidated by the presence of Snoop Dogg.

9. ROB CORDDRY WAS NOT NAKED, BUT HE STILL HAD TO SIGN AWAY HIS NUDITY RIGHTS.

Old School marked the first major film role for Rob Corddry, who at the time was best known as a correspondent for The Daily Show. He had a jewel bag around his private parts for his nude scene, but his butt made it into the final cut. He had to sign a nudity clause, which gave the film the right to use his naked image “in any part of the universe, in any form, even that which is not devised.”

10. SNOOP DOGG AGREED TO CAMEO SO HE COULD PLAY HUGGY BEAR IN STARSKY & HUTCH.

Phillips admitted to essentially bribing the hip-hop artist/actor, using Snoop Dogg’s desire to play the street informant in the modern movie adaptation of the classic TV show (which Phillips was also directing) to his advantage. “So when I went to him I said, 'I want you to do Huggy Bear,' he was really excited. And I said, 'Oh yeah, also will you do this little thing for me in Old School a little cameo?' So he kind of had to do it I think."

11. SNOOP WANTED TO HANG OUT WITH VINCE VAUGHN ON SET, BUT NOT LUKE WILSON.

Snoop Dogg in 'Old School' (2003)
Richard Foreman, Dreamworks

Vaughn and his friends accepted an invitation to hang out in Snoop Dogg’s trailer to play video games on the last day of shooting. Vaughn recalled seeing Luke Wilson later watching the news alone in his trailer; he had not been informed of the get-together.

12. WILSON WAS TEASED BY HIS CO-STARS.

Vaughn, Wilson, and Ferrell dubbed themselves “The Wolfpack”—years before Phillips directed The Hangover—because they would always make fun of each other. A particularly stinging exchange had Ferrell refer to Legally Blonde (which Wilson had starred in) as Legally Bland. Wilson said it didn’t make him feel great. Wilson retorted by telling Ferrell that "the transition from TV to the movies isn't a very easy one, so you might just want to keep one foot back in TV just in case this whole movie thing falls through!"

13. TERRY O’QUINN SCARED HIS SONS INTO THINKING THEY WERE TRIPPING.

Terry O’Quinn (who went on to play John Locke on Lost the following year) agreed to play Goldberg, uncredited, in what was a two-day job for him. He neglected to inform his sons he was in the movie, and when they saw it, one of them called their father. “I got a call from my sons one night, and they said, ‘What were you doing in Old School? We didn’t even know you were in it!’ They said, ‘We’re sitting there, and the first time we see you, it’s, like, in a reflection in a window. And when we saw it, and we both thought we were, like, tripping or something!’”

14. THE EARMUFFS WERE IMPROVISED.

Before filming, Vaughn worked with Ferrell to figure out their characters' backstories and how they knew each other; he credited that with helping him figure out who Bernard was, which led to several ad-libbed moments. “The earmuff scene where he swears in front of the kids, and then I tell the kid to earmuff, that all is off the cuff. But that stuff is a lot easier to do when you know who you are and your circumstances, and who your characters are,” Vaughn explained.

15. FERRELL AND VAUGHN DIDN’T LOVE A SCRIPT FOR A SEQUEL.

Armstrong had written Old School Dos in 2006, which saw the frat going to Spring Break. Ferrell said that he and Vaughn read the script but felt like they would just be “kind of doing the same thing again.” Wilson, on the other hand, was excited over the new script.

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