The Voices Behind the Cartoon Characters
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The Voices Behind the Cartoon Characters

You watch the cartoons, but do you really know the voices and voice actors behind the cartoons. And their amazing ability to change voices.

Some of the most famous characters on TV are not even real people, but yet they are. Who is more recognizable, Homer Simpson or Brad Pitt. Probably Homer Simpson, his face, his voice and the phrases he made famous. But you never see Homer Simpson do TV interviews with his even more famous son, Bart Simpson. So who are these real voices behind the cartoon characters.

Mel Blanc and the Early Years of Cartoon Character Voices

There have always been cartoons, and behind every cartoon character there has to be a voice. It has always amazed me how these voices behind the cartoon characters do not sound like the real voice of the person doing them and how they can do so many different and varied voices.

Starting in the early years of cartoons, Mel Blanc is probably the best known voice behind the cartoon characters. Called The Man of a Thousand Voices, Mel Blanc was the voice behind many well-known cartoon characters such as Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Wile E Coyote, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Speedy Gonzales and Woody Woodpecker (1940-1941).

Mel Blanc was the real Bugs Bunny (Warner Brothers)

In the 1960s, Mel Blanc was also the voice behind the cartoon characters of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely of The Jetsons. You might remember the 1980 television series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Mel Blanc was also the voice of the robot, Twiki.

There have been numerous great cartoon voices over the years including Daws Butler, June Foray, Paul Frees, Stan Freberg, Frank Welker, Casey Kasem and Don Messick. Don Messick could switch between 9 different cartoon character voices and have conversations with them. The voices he did varied between such diverse cartoon characters as Baam-Baam of The Flintstones to Dr. Benton Quest of Jonny Quest.

The Simpsons

The Simpson family on FOX network is one of the most recognizable families in the world, their faces, phrases and voices and Marge Simpson even appearing in playboy. The Simpsons with Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie portray the infamous dysfunctional American family for 21 years now, which makes it the longest running television show in American history. But who are the real Simpson’s?

Homer Simpson is actually Dan Castellaneta, who has been doing Homer Simpson’s voice since the beginning of The Simpsons. Dan Castellaneta also does the voices of Grandpa Simpson, Krusty the Clown, Mayor Quimby and Groundskeeper Willie. Like almost all cartoon voices, he is not publicly recognized as Homer Simpson, the famous American actor.

Dan Castellaneta is the real Homer Simpson, caretaker Willie, Krusty and others. (Fox Network)

Bart Simpson is really a woman. Nancy Cartwright, an actress and comedian, has been doing the voice of Bart Simpson since the beginning of the show in 1989. In the early 1990s when Bart Simpson was becoming one of America’s most famous characters and even named entertainer of the year, Nancy Cartwright was anonymous. The producers of The Simpsons didn’t want anyone to know Bart was really a woman. Away from the recording studio, her voice is nothing like that of Bart Simpson, an example of how cartoon voices can be amazing when you find out the voice behind the cartoons character.

Nancy Cartwright is the real Homer Simpson (Fox Network)

Family Guy

Also on the FOX network is an even more dysfunctional family than the Simpsons, a cartoon called Family Guy featuring the Griffin Family. The Griffin family includes Peter Griffin the father, Lois as the caring wife and mother, Stewie is the baby of the family, kids Chris and Meg and a talking dog, Brian and a host of interesting neighbors and townsfolk.

It is amazing how one person can do so many different and varied voices behind these cartoons. Seth MacFarlane is the creator of the show, has written several episodes, does animation and does the voices of Peter Griffin, Stewie, Brian and the odd neighbor, Glenn Quagmire among other voices. Like or hate Family Guy, it is amazing to listen to the differences in the voices of Peter Griffin and baby Stewie.

Seth MacFarlane is the real Peter Griffin, Quagmire, Stewie and Brian. (Fox Network)

Alexandrea “Alex” Borstein is the voice behind Lois Griffin and reporter Tricia Takanawa. These are two completely different voices and another example of how these voices behind the cartoons can change their voices and roles.

One of the Griffin’s neighbors is Joe, a former police officer who is now in a wheelchair. The voice behind the cartoon character of Joe is Patrick Warburton, who also played David Puddy in the Seinfeld television series.

The Griffin’s live in the town of Quahog and the mayor of Quahog is Mayor West. The voice behind this cartoon character is Adam West, who was also the original Batman from the 1960s.

Brian and Stewie (Fox Network)

King of the Hill

Another cartoon on the FOX network is King of the Hill and it is amazing there is a television cartoon that doesn’t feature a dysfunctional American family, more of the typical All-Texas family where life revolves around lawn care and football, especially Dallas Cowboys football.

The father, Hank Hill, is also all about the propane business and the voice behind Hank is Mike Judge, who is also the creator of the cartoon. Mike Judge was also the voice behind Hank’s neighbor, Boomhauer and the voices of Kenny in South Park and Beavis and Butthead.

Hank’s son is 13-year old Bobby Hill and like Bart Simpson, the voice behind this cartoon character is a woman. The voice of Bobby Hill is Pamela Segall Adlon.

Pamela Segall Adlon is the real Bobby Hill.

The Hill’s niece, Luanne is married to Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt and the voice behind the cartoon character of Lucky is Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

On a sad note, the voice behind the cartoon character Luanne was done by Brittany Murphy. She passed away on December 20, 2009 at the age of 32 from complications of pneumonia and anemia.

Voices Behind the Cartoon Characters

There have been many cartoons on television and in movies. Some of these voice actors are also actors and actresses who appear in television shows, Broadway, movies and do voices for other cartoon characters. Others who do cartoon character voices might be comedians and even radio station DJ’s. There are also voice acting schools you can go to.


In the famous words of Mel Blanc and Porky Pig, “That’s All Folks

© 2010 Sam Montana


Image Sources:

Fox Publicity Online: Peter Griffin, Glenn Quagmire, Stewie, Groundskeeper Willie, Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson

Nancy Cartwright, Seth Macfarlane, King of the Hill Family (Fox Network), Bugs Bunny/Warner Brothers

Family Guy, The Simpsons

Field of Cartoon Voices 

Good book about the history of cartoon voices: "The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who’s Who of Cartoon Voice Actors" by Tim Lawson and Alisa Persons

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Comments (20)

Mel Blanc was great and I remember Casey Kasum as Shaggy.

This was really fun to read. tweet tweet.

Wow! I didn't know so many of the voices were these people. I never heard of Mel Blanc, but I sure heard of Bugs Bunny and Barney Rubble. I still love the old cartoons like Popeye and Bugs.

Interesting. I didn't know the voice behind Bart Simpson was a woman. Thanks.

Oh this was great fun!!

I always have to chuckle when I read about this stuff! It's even funnier if you see the person doing the recording of the voice! Bart Simpson is the best!

The unsung heroes. Of course they did this type of thing all the time on old time radio.

Did you know that Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny) was actually allergic to carrots! - Fun Fact :)

This made my day. Fun! Wouldn't it be great if Homer and Bart were on the David Letterman show. I am sure they could figure out a way to make it work like in Roger Rabbit where toons interact with people

Love "King of the Hill." Funny factoid here folks: my dad looks a LOT like Hank Hill from the cartoon! And he says similar things, AND many years ago he worked in a propane company as a bottled propane gas delivery driver! Yup, -they sold propane and propane accessories too! He doesn't 'do voices' however but *I* can do a pretty amazing "Yoda" impersonation. ;-) I can also imitate Commander Worf from Star Trek: the next generation.

I didnt know that Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots, and that is funny. I have been watching cartoons since I was a kid. Prime time cartoon shows seem to get away with a lot more than other shows. I was a little shocked the first time I saw Family Guy. Stickman, your dad looks like Hank Hill. If you know American football much, there was a funny picture on the internet of Hank Hill and Dan Reeves. Did you know that the same guy who did the voice of Yoda also did the voice of Miss Piggy. His name is Frank Oz. I was always hoping they would do a show where Hank Hill and the Hill family were invited over to Peter Griffins for dinner, lots of blushing on Hanks face.

Hmmmm Bobby and Chris in the same room? Scary. But you are right it would be hilarious - I would love to see it - you should pitch it.

Very interesting and fun write Sam! Enjoyable read!

Mel Blanc is one talented person...and Bart is a girl???? I can understand why they would not want that fact known!

Fun, informative article!

I'm glad to know the voices behind the great characters :-D

That's amazing doing different voices for different characters.

I would never had known that there were women doing the voices, they sound really weird too. Very good pictures.

Makes sense to have a woman do a young boy's voice. That way they don't have to keep looking for replacements after a boy's voice breaks. I didn't know that Stan Freberg, a long-time favorite of mine, did cartoon voices. I'll bet he was as versatile as anyone else you mention (except, perhaps, for the unmatchable Blanc).

Informative article