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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | July 25, 2006

It’s sensible to say that voice acting just doesn’t receive enough of the respect it deserves. In Hollywood voice roles aren’t considered real performances by big time actors, to many movie buffs voice acting isn’t considered a real role, and in reality these jobs don’t pay as much as being on film. But these individuals are around and you’ll be shocked to know many of the most prominent and best voice work in entertainment is performed by many talented people. And you’re always never sure where you’ve heard them, but you know they’re that person you’ve heard often.

As someone who has an undeniable passion for animation, is about to pursue a career in voice acting, and who still watches cartoons, I can say that after a while, many of these voices sound awfully familiar, and you learn that these are the same people that continue re-appearing again and again. Sure, they may not always win awards, or be seen at Hollywood premieres, but they’re there behind the scenes, pop up often in closing credits, and they’re there proving that voice acting is just as much of an art form as physical acting. Mel Blanc proved it in the golden age of Warner Brothers voicing almost all of the characters of the Looney Tunes line-up from Pepe LePew, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, and Tweety Bird, to Bugs Bunny.

And though they may not get much credit, these are the people voicing commercials, kid’s shows, cartoons, and video games, they’re doing the under-appreciated grunt work, and you’d be surprised to discover that their filmography reads more extensively than John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Jimmy Stewart combined, these are only a few of the best and most prominent voice actors in Hollywood.

Brad Garrett
You know him best as Officer Robert Barone from “Everybody Loves Raymond” one of the funniest sitcom characters in years, the tall and often jealous big brother to Ray who insinuated himself into situations to feel included and we saw him flexing his comedic muscles for nine seasons winning a well deserved Emmy. You also saw him in “The Pacifier” as principal Murney who engages in a wrestling match with Vin Diesel, and as John the obsessive mechanic in “Seinfeld,” not to mention he’ll star in his soon to be aired sitcom “Til Death Do Us Part” on FOX. But, I bet you didn’t realize that Garrett, with his deep gravelly voice, is also a very prominent and popular voice actor.

The California native who is also a comedian, and was a one time substitute host for David Letterman, is instantly recognizable voicing many commercials, and characters in some of the most popular television shows of all time voicing characters in series like “Transformers” in the eighties, and then went on to an extensive career voicing large galoots in series like “2 Stupid Dogs” as Big Dog, “Superman: The Animated Series” as Bibbo, “Mighty Max,” and “An Extremely Goofy Movie,” the actor continues popping up in every corner of television, and does so with his trademark pipes while venturing on in comedy ensuring laughs from his audience.

Tom Kenny
You may not know him upon first glance, but with his high pitched squeal, if you close your eyes, it’s hard not to recognize the man behind the utterly popular and instantly recognizable voice of Spongebob Squarepants. Going onto a mammoth of a hit television series that toppled the previous title holder “Pokemon” upon its premiere, Kenny voices the iconic yellow porous reluctant hero in the ongoing Nickelodeon series which went on to be a pop culture smash garnering a hit movie, a merchandise hailstorm, and has run for nearly five seasons with continued high ratings and a cast of actors such as Bill Fagerbakke, and Clancy Brown, a venture Nickelodeon is not intent on ending any time soon.

Kenny, a New York native, has remained grounded in children’s television throughout his career drifting occasionally to star with wife Jill in the cult series “Mr. Show,” and in “MTV’s Half Hour Comedy Hour”. But beyond occasional detours in adult fare such as “Mission Hill,” and “Family Guy,” Kenny has remained a consistent actor behind some of the highest rated children’s shows of all time from “Spongebob,” “Teen Titans,” and “Powerpuff Girls,” to “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” another hit now airing its third season on Cartoon Network. Currently, along with continuing his consummate voice work, he is also the vice president of 4Kids Entertainment, a studio and major distributor that specializes in acquiring, producing, and dubbing Asian import cartoons for US audiences, and in creating series catered to tweens.

Jim Cummings
Cummings and his low growl is probably the most prominent and longest working actor on the list. Performing in voiceovers and as announcers for television for years, he’s provided his multi-faceted pipes for hit films like “Lion King” where he was a singing double for Jeremy Irons after he threw out his pipes during “Be Prepared”. He currently voices the yellow bear Winnie the Pooh which he’s done since 1992 landing the role after the original voice Sterling Holloway became increasingly ill. Cummings, with his uncanny interpretation went onto also voice Tigger upon the departure of Paul Winchell in 1998 due to salary disputes with Disney.

There’s really no limit to C*****g’s ability as a voice actor, which he’s been doing since 1984 appearing in the “Transformers” animated series, and building a filmography of nearly three hundred projects going from bit parts to starring roles varying from video games, to kids programs. To those who grew up in the eighties and nineties, you may recognize him as Monterey Jack from “Chip and Dale,” Pete in “Goof Troop,” Don Carnage in “Tale Spin,” as most of the cast in “Darkwing Duck,” and in films like “Balto”. The actor, who has earned a large fan base and fan club, is currently on-call from Disney providing voices for a majority of their series and specials, and now voices the Tazmanian devil in the Looney Tunes franchise.

Phil Lamarr
Tarantino buffs will instantly recognize Lamarr as the ill-fated Marvin from “Pulp Fiction”, the poor sap who, after a long interrogation, experiences an untimely death in the backseat of a car thanks to an itchy misplaced trigger finger, comedy fans will instantly recognize him as the longtime veteran of “Mad TV” where for five seasons, he starred alongside people like Orlando Jones, Artie Lang, and fellow voice actor Nicole Sullivan every Saturday Night as one of the original cast members with characters such as Jaq the UPS Guy. Lamarr who ventures into film every now and then, is also an accomplished stage actor and has acquired an almost massive filmography of voice acting roles.

Lamarr who mainly voices African American characters has created a niche voicing characters such as Static in the critically acclaimed “Static Shock,” Jon Stewart, the Green Lantern in the long running “Justice League” animated series, has voiced various characters on “Robot Chicken,” voiced Jack in the long running “Samurai Jack,” and more notably voices Hermes Conrad, the Jamaican stereotype and manager of “Planet Express” in the cult animated series “Futurama.” Lamarr, usually recognized for his variable deep mature voice and youthful high voice, is currently appearing in four upcoming films and will reprise his role as Hermes in “Futurama” which is returning to television after cancellation for television movies and a rumored re-launching of the series.

Pamela Segall Adlon
You may have seen her in her debut role in 1982’s “Grease 2” as Woodchuck, but if you’re a normal person and removed all memories of that film from your collective memory where “Staying Alive” looms, then you’ll most likely recognize her as the awfully spunky foul mouthed wife of comedian Louis CK in the current hit HBO sitcom “Lucky Louie” as Kim. Adlon, often credited as Segall, has been a consistent staple of animation for years known for her squeaky voice and contributing to many hit adult and children programs. One of her most memorable, and career making performances has been in the co-starring role in the animated sitcom “King of the Hill,” where she plays the chubby only son of Hank and Peggy, Bobby, the socially inept wannabe comedian along with a cast of actors such as Brittany Murphy, Mike Judge, and Kathy Najimy.

Winner of an Emmy for Outstanding voiceover in an animated series in 2002, the New York native has been acting since she was twelve, and has gone onto an extensive career of voice acting providing her talents for shows like “Recess” as the appropriately butch Spinelli, the short-lived adult animated series “The Oblongs” as Milo, was featured in films like “Princess Mononoke,” and “Vampire Hunter D,” and has voiced video game characters in the “Final Fantasy” series. Adlon can currently be seen on the hit show “Lucky Louie,” and can currently be heard in various series like “King of the Hill,” and in this summer’s upcoming “Squirrel Boy.”

Cree Summer
After Lisa Bonet bailed from her spin-off of “The Cosby Show,” the collegiate sitcom “A Different World” was retooled to success in season two, and Cree Summer popped up to co-star in one of the more successful spin-offs in television. For six long seasons, Summer starred as the optimist Freddie, but before her mainstream debut, Summer had already begun building a large resume of voice acting. Summer, the daughter of famous Canadian actor Don Francks, and daughter of a leader of the Cree First Nation, made her debut playing Penny in the classic series “Inspector Gadget” but made her first acting appearance on the hit sitcom “A Different World” a few years subsequent her role as the Inspector’s put upon niece.

Summer, recognized for her light raspy voice became a casting agent favorite and, after the sitcom ended in 1993, Summer continued on with attempts at a music career with her band “A Subject to Change,” and progressed to voicing some of the most popular characters of the nineties. You may recognize her as the voice behind the psychotic pet lover Elmyra of the long running “Tiny Toons,” or as the spunky rival to Angelika, Suzie, in the “Rugrats” franchise, or the tough Numbuh Five in the popular “Codename: Kids Next Door”; Cree also appeared in the arguably entertaining “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” as Princess Kida, and currently voices Foxxy Love in Comedy Central’s “Drawn Together.” And, well, we’ve only scratched the surface on Ms. Summer’s endless filmography.

Lauren Tom
If you’re not really sure where you’ve seen Ms. Tom before, try to picture her as Julie, Ross’s love interest in “Friends” before he and Rachel got together. Though not many people know that Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston have performed as voice actors, Ms. Tom is one of the most prominent voice and character actors in Hollywood, currently appearing in many big animated series on television. Soon to be seen in “Synergy,” Tom who has appeared in series like the short-lived “Barbershop,” “Threshold,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” co-starred in epics such as “The Joy Luck Club,” and has a rapidly growing resume of voice work.

Known mostly for playing Asian characters with her variable voice of mature women, to small children, she can be heard in many popular series from the lore retooling “Batman Beyond” as Dana, the animated underdog “King of the Hill” as Kahn and Minh, and is a constant on-demand actress in children’s programming voicing characters in “Rugrats,” the long running “Teen Titans,” the rambunctious warrior Numbuh 3 in “Codename: Kids Next Door,” and is also currently working on the planned revival of “Futurama” reprising her role as Amy Wong, the sex-starved intern for the “Planet Express” on the cult series “Futurama.”

Grey Delisle
As many of the actors here, Delisle is a musician and comedian who have also managed to earn a fan base. But her fan base derives not just from her voice work, but from her work as a musician in her band where she sings lead vocals. Delisle a fan of bands such as Queen and of Johnny Cash, has released five albums to date, singing covers, and her own original music. Delisle, who married the leader of the band “Old 97’s” Murry Hammond, is the grand daughter of vocalist Eva Flores who once worked with Tito Puentes. During her music career, Delisle also took up comedy due to her impressive imitations and drifted to voice acting.

With over 130 credits to her resume, Delisle has quickly become a familiar voice in the world of animation debuting in the American dubbing of “Crayon Shin-Chan” in 1992. Known for her mellow Goth, and erratic screeching variations of voices, she has gone on to voice many familiar characters from the maniacal babysitter Vicky in “The Fairly Oddparents,” Daphne in the straight-to-video “Scooby-Doo” movies, the megalomaniacal Mandy in “The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy,” and Frankie in the hit series “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.” Furthermore, she’s contributed her voice to many video games, and various other popular children’s series. Currently, Delisle is moving forward with her music and is lending her voice to “Ultimate Avengers 2,” and the ongoing “Fairly Oddparents”.

Tress MacNeille
MacNeille who has worked in the business since 1979, started out with her debut in the short-lived “Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo” and since then has formed a filmography of over a 150 credits, but MacNeille’s distinctive melodramatic voice has garnered her a surefire reputation playing some of the most noted and familiar voices in animation. MacNeille who has been the star of series like “Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers”, “Tiny Toons” where she played the multi-faceted spunky Babs Bunny, and Dot in the cult classic “Animaniacs” has mostly played toward the background variety supplying her patented screams and howls for various shows that’s become as common as the Wilhelm scream.

MacNeille has also made waves providing many voices for characters in “The Simpsons” with the likes of Principal Skinner’s obsessive mother, the saleslady Cookie Kwan, Jimbo Jones, and a variety of others, while also giving the voice of the dictatorial tycoon Mom on Groening’s “Futurama”. MacNeille who made an appearance as Lucille Ball in a Weird Al Yankovic music video, continues her acting in many series and is currently working on the much anticipated “The Simpsons Movie” which is now in production, and on the awaited revival of “Futurama” reprising her role as Mom.

Tara Strong
Tara Strong, a friend of Grey Delisle’s coincidentally, is possibly one of the most frequent voices you’ll hear on animated programs in networks from Cartoon Network, and Fox, to Nickelodeon, garnering a resume of nearly 200 projects and is a constant on-demand actress mainly because she possesses pipes so accessible and flexible which allows her to voice mainly any character from men and women to young boys and tots. With an early career in theater performing in Yiddish, and as Gracie in a production of “The Music Man,” Strong took up voice acting after appearing in the short-lived “Mosquito Lake” and debuted in the American version of “Hello Kitty!”

Canadian born, Strong has remained grounded in mostly animation providing the personalities for characters in hit series like the long-running “Teen Titans” as Raven, the blustery Bubbles in “The Powerpuff Girls,” Mushi, the rambunctious sister of Numbuh 3 in “Codename: Kids Next Door,” and voices the wide-eyed Timmy Turner in the hit Nickelodeon series “The Fairly Oddparents”. Along with television she has voiced many video games from “X-Men Legends,” Disney’s “Kingdom Hearts 2” and has, believe it or not, garnered a large fan club. Strong, a mother of two, has continued her successful work and can currently be heard as Ben Tennison in the hit series “Ben 10” on the Cartoon Network, and basically pops up in most shows appearing in syndication. You just have to listen for her.

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