January 31, 2011

Voice Actor - Frank Welker

Introducing the grand master of all voice characterizations!
Frank was born Franklin Wendell Welker on March 12, 1946. Welker's name is one of those that speeds by in the credits of animated films. He's a master at voiceovers, specializing in animal sounds that are both real and imaginary. He plays the creature Nibbler on "Futurama," is Santa's Little Helper on "The Simpsons" and ad-libs all the monkeyshines of PBS' "Curious George."

Welker constantly slips into a new voice; one moment he's the portentous evil Megatron of "The Transformers," Dr. Claw from "Inspector Gadget" or Abu, the sassy simian from "Aladdin."

His skill began in childhood, he says; "As far back as I can remember I could mimic, whether it was people or animals,  Bill Cosby, or Sean Connery, it's always so much fun. You know how actors love to get into a part? Well it's even more fun with voices."
He grew up in Denver, Colorado. Naturally, he became his grade school's class clown! He began his career as a stand-up comic in 1967, and opened for many famous musical acts, including Sonny & Cher and Diana Ross. 

Human, machine or animal. As his voice-over career was taking off in the 1970s, Welker continued to work on-camera, appearing in such shows as Love, American Style and The Don Knotts Show. But his experience as a stand-up comedian once again earned him a coveted role when, while he was performing his act at the Comedy Store, Paul Keyes, the producer of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, spotted him and asked him to appear on the opening show of the season with featured billing.

Even though he's not a house-hold name, he has now reached legendary status, well within the ranks of such famous voice actors as Mel Blanc. He has done hundreds of characters of hundreds of shows and films. See the astoundingly huge credit list on Voice Chasers.

See this nice interview with him here.

Frank returned as the voice of Megatron and Soundwave on an episode of Robot Chicken. Soundwave finds out that being a cassette player in the 2000's isn't a very good disguise. He ends up in a very unlikely place that only Movie Optimus Prime or G1 Shockwave would think to look: eBay! Also, here's an exerpt from 'The Making of The Real Ghostbusters' Animated Series, 1990
Download here the full British-produced by Central Independent Television Special of Slimer Won't Do That! The Making of The Real Ghostbusters (1990), 19:19 length, 251Mb, AVI video file. The Making of The Real Ghostbusters features Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and many more people involved with Ghostbusters and The RGB. A Frank Welker/Maurice LaMarche voice recording session is shown at 10:09, followed by an interview with Frank. Here's a few audio files and screen shots below:
[Frank on Voice Acting, Part 1: frank-1.wav]   [Frank on Acting, Part 2: frank-2.wav]
Here's a low quality YouTube version, VERY fasinating seeing all the voice actors at work:
Frank's head was recently immortalized on Futurama:
More great footage and interviews.
Have a listen to the incredible range in his voice, it's unbelievable to think that it all comes from the same person: 

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