Come April 29th, the 43rd Annual Daytime Creative Emmys will have more than just shows aired between the hours of 2 am and 6 pm to honor, but a body of work to beat most as will be bestowed an award of a Lifetime to none other than Frank Welker aka The Voice of Scooby-Doo!–among near countless others (and countless is probably too small a number for what he has actually done)!
Welker’s career spans roughly 50 years! Best known for crafting voices and sound effects for over one hundred cartoon characters and programs, Welker’s respect as a voice over actor is beyond the industry pale! But don’t let his golden pipes fool ya; he’s got just as singular a face for screen as a voice NOT fit for mime! Yet while he’s appeared on Television shows: talk, variety and pilot along with too many commercials to mention, his Lifetime Achievement merit could basically encompass his voiceover work alone!
Born in Denver Colorado, Welker hit his first mark on the way to fame by pacing the boards of numerous standup comedy stages only to have his act ultimately take him on tour with the likes of Sergio Mendes and The Righteous Brothers. He would then go on to perform in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe and open for such notables as Sonny and Cher, Diana Ross, Loretta Lynn, Ann Margaret and Neil Sedaka!
Welker also got an early start in film initially appearing as a bar fight hoodlum in Stan Dragoti’s Dirty Little Billy. He would go on to act alongside Elvis Presley as a Rutgers University student in The Trouble with Girls in 1969 and in 1971 costar with Don Knotts as Prentiss Gates in How to Frame a Figg. Disney Films in which he appeared include The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes as Henry Fathington, and Now you See Him, Now you Don’t as Myles starring in both right alongside Kurt Russell.
His more-than-simply-voiceover television appearances comprise Love, American Style, The Partridge Family, The Don Knotts Show, The Trial of General Yamashita wherein he played a prosecutor, Paramount Television’s Pilot Catch 22, alongside Richard Dreyfuss in the role of Yossarian as the answer to Welker’s ‘Captain Pace’. Other noteworthy acting stints include Laugh In, The Dean Martin Roast, The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, The Smothers Brothers, The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour and many years later a reprisal in the non-voiceover capacity as Matt Damon’s father in the film The Informant!
Moving on to what he is best known for: Cartoons! His very first animated series voiceover stint was for the program wherein he would acquire most superlative fame: Scooby-Doo, produced by Hanna Barbara who would hire him in the initial role of Freddy Jones (whom I always thought was simply referred to as ‘Fred’ so I’m a little confused, but I won’t quibble). He would voice the blonde, white-sweatered, orange ascot clad, mature-beyond-his-years, teenager for the next 45 years and counting and is speculated to hold the chronological record for said voiceover gig throughout time in memoriam! His latest project reprising the leading man of the foursome and the fursome (in the form of Scooby-Doo) who would follow ghosts, is entitled Be Cool Scooby Doo (and Heaven knows, that dog could use a serious chill pill!) Starting roughly a decade ago, he took over the voice of Scooby-Doo to a T, leaving no one the least bit wiser in so doing…
Other canine characterizations Welker has portrayed encompass the role of Dinky on CBS’ Dinky Dog, Fangface on Ruby Spears’ series of the same title (uhhh…Fangface in case you were still confused) and last but not-cyber contemporarily-least Dynomutt in The Scooby-Doo Dynomutt Hour (wherein both hounds lead the audience in a rapt discussion of politics, current events, and finance—What, you think only MacNeil and Lehrer ever carried that mantle? Nay but I jest!!!) Other vocally personified animals encompass: Jabberjaw (Remember? That Rodney Dangerfield countenanced, all Three-Stooge-voiced shark who just never seemed to have any concept of…? Aw never mind… never mind…), and the voice of Bufford on The Bufford Files (wherein a purple dog investigates captivating crimes up in San Francisco—Nay but I jest, but somewhat close to Jim Rockford as the jowled canine is a super sleuth, albeit far more lazy and dyspeptic than James Garner ever was or could interminably hope to be). Vocalized vehicles and articulated androids include, Schlepcar on Sid and Marty Kroffts’ Wonderbug: (that show starring real actors and a rockin’ orange VW Bug as part of a triptych of three adventurous vignettes under the comprised umbrella of The Krofft Super Variety Show: Kaptain Kool and the Kongs any child of the 70s could gleefully peruse, flipping betwixt the big three networks on a lazy Saturday morning), and last but not least, the rad robot H.E.R.B.I.E. of Fantastic Four fame. The current cartoon on which he seems to evince the most vocal variety is Hanna Barbera’s Yogi Space Race on which he portrays seven animated creatures!
As if that wasn’t enough, Welker has created nearly as many characters as he has simply voiced in the form of Wonder Dog, Schmoo (that adorable amorphous seal that looks like a nondescript glob of mashed potatoes with a whiskered face), Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget fame, varying and sundry G.I. Joe heroes and antagonists alike, Baby Kermit, and Skitter on the Muppet Babies. Steven Spielberg animated incarnations encompass characters from Tiny Toons and Animaniacs comprised of surly studio boss Mr. Plotz, and sketchy “guard” Ralph the Guard. To round out his Animaniacal antics, simply add Runt the Dog to his repertoire (aka the ironically large rambunctious ruffmeister as the Yin to Bernadette Peters’ Rita the Cat’s adorable Yang)!
And as if the above cavalcade of colorful ‘toons wasn’t enough other characters include Abu the googley-eyed ape of Aladdin fame, The Green Ghost Slimmer from the Ghostbusters in all his ectoplasmic glory, Smurf villain Gargamel’s cat Azreal in both the live action and animated renditions of The Smurfs and a character he will be voicing yet again for the impending Smurfs Feature Film, along with Nibbler in Futurama, and last but certainly not least Garfield the world’s most erudite but loveable cat and Curious George (whom I never knew to speak so this is an incredibly new frontier in any and all animated character developments by Jingo!)
Oh and I know you thought I was done, but moving on to more hard-as-steel portrayals for the older more rambunctious boy (stereotypically speaking of course, and until the 7-12 year old boy demographic initiates such a movement to debunk it, they’ll just have to live with my prejudice for the time being) Welker has also voiced and re-voiced recurring characters on several renditions of Transformers encompassing eight of the original 14 Decepticons to speak nothing of Megatron, Galvatron, Soundwave, Skywrap, Laserbeak, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, and Ratbat—oh my! The aforementioned includes varying and sundry cinematic incarnations of The Transformers.
“Every child in America has grown up listening to Frank Welker bring the adventures of Freddy Jones and Scooby-Doo to life,” exclaims National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences President Bob Mauro. “Frank is an audible magician. He has made an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of us all with his ability to bring these and so many other characters into our lives and make them real. It is with great pleasure that the National Academy bestows the prestigious Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement to him for his great body of work.”
“I have been a fan of Frank Welker’s work my entire life,” declares Daytime National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Senior Vice President David Michaels. “He is a unique person creating very unique characters such as Curious George, Wonder Dog, Shmoo, Megatron and his body of work over the last 40 years is remarkable. It is our great pleasure to acknowledge his long career in front of his many peers at the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy gala!”
Parallel to the aforementioned, Welker has been dubbed the number one “All Time Top 100 Stars at the Box Office for five consecutive years” not so much for box office draw but pertaining to aggregate income generated by films to which he has contributed his solid and versatile talents! Welker’s career, vastly responsible for a grand array of voices, manmade sound effects, and portrayals on the small and large screen alike over the past 45 years is a decided force to be reckoned with!
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