Born: 12 March 1946, Denver, Colorado, USA
Job: Voice Actor
I have the utmost respect for voice artists, who are the talented individuals who we never really seem to hear much about (ironically), and don’t seem to be as recognised in the public eye as on-screen actors, even though they bring as much talent, hard work and entertainment to our screens, if not that little bit more.
There are many talents in the voice acting world, but none have left me as impressed and star struck as Frank Welker. This mid week mini is a dedication to a veteran actor, who specialises in voice acting and who is responsible for a broad spectrum of character voices and other vocal effects that have appeared over the last 40 years in film and television. Frank Welker’s resume is as impressive as his range of vocal talents and memorable character voices. Please check out Franks IMDB page to see the impressive list of over 600 projects he has been involved in.
I actually became fascinated by voice acting through Futurama, I realised some of the talent involved in this show actually voiced characters from cartoons going back to my childhood. After I discovered Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker, Morbo, Calculon) voiced Egon Spengler from The Real Ghostbusters I decided to look further. I found Frank Welker’s impressive career not only started back in the 1960’s but quickly realised he practically voiced all my favourite cartoon characters from my childhood. Amongst others he voiced Ray Stantz and Slimer from The Real Ghostbusters as well as Nibbler from Futurama. Frank Welker lends his talents to more distinct voice acting including animal and creature vocals as well as speaking roles.
Frank Welker’s most recurring role is as the voice of Fred from Scooby-Doo. According to the ‘interweb’ (take it or leave it) he has done every voicing of Freddy “Fred” Jones for all of the Scooby-Doo series with the sole exception of “A Pup Named Scooby-Doo” (1988). Even in parodies and cameos on different TV shows (such as Family Guy) he has always done this voice and has played the character since 1969.
Another character I instantly recognised was that of Megatron in Transformers (1984). Recent speculation as to why Welker didn’t return to the role alongside Peter Cullen in the Transformers Movie was strange news indeed but at least he reprised his role for the Transformers video game, you can check out a small clip of Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) working together again below.
Characters such as Nibbler (non-speaking and speaking) and Slimer, who don’t really talk but speak through different noises and sounds all have a similar Welker sound to them, each one reminds me of the other in some way. I love the way he can change from a character such as Ray to Slimer instantly and you’d think it was two different actors. Looking at IMDB Frank is often cast in animated productions as the “voice” of various animal or creature characters or listed as “additional vocal effects”. Other famous “non-speaking” roles include the voice of the monkey Abu from Aladdin (1992), its sequels and the TV series adaptation as well as Dungeons and Dragons (1983 – 1985) as Tiamat the dragon and Uni, two very different characters of good and evil in the same show.
The character I remember most fondly is Dr. Raymond Stantz from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series (1986-1991) as well as a few episodes of Extreme Ghostbusters (1997). I think he brought great character to Ray and it was great to see the interaction between him and Slimer. Slimer’s voice is what also made me realise his work in other cartoon series.
Animal vocals you might also recognise include Santas Little Helper (The Simpsons), Dino (The Flintstones), Furrball, Gogo Dodo (Tiny Toon Adventures). These are just a few of the ones I’ve recognised, more so since I became aware of Frank’s distinct talents and style. I could probably go on but these particular projects I have grown up with and love to re-watch when the mood takes me, I love listening out for all the parts played by Frank Welker as well as keeping up to date with other voice artists and finding out what they have been in.
As well as the IMDB page please visit this webpage on Frank Welker it is a goldmine of information and has its own interesting information, vids, downloads and links.
One of the clips from the website is from a Rolf’s Cartoon Club Special on The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, this clip includes a reading session with Maurice LeMarche (Egon) and Frank Welker (Ray and Slimer)
More Ghostbusters info can be found here at Spook Central!
More recently Frank has been involved in Alice in Wonderland (2010) as additional vocal effects and Toy Story 3 (2010) as the character RC. I always look forward to listening out for Frank Welker in the latest movies and cartoons and when I discover something new or related to cartoons I watched during my childhood it brings back some great memories.