Thursday, October 06, 2011

The voices behind the Superfriends

Years ago before I even started blogging, I considered writing a book about the various incarnations of the Superfriends cartoon, because amazingly, it hadn't been done yet. There were books about Saturday morning cartoons, yeah, but nothing specifically about the Superfriends. My running title for it was "WonderTwin Powers, Activate." Shortly after I gathered up as many of the episodes as I could find--they weren't on DVD at that point--and started watching them, Danny Dark, the voice of Superman, died.

Without slighting the rest of the voice cast, one of the reasons I wanted to write the book was to talk to Mr. Dark about his announcing/voice acting career in addition to being--for some people my age--the voice you heard when you read a Superman comic book. Olan Soule, who did the voice for Batman for all but the final two seasons, had died back in 1994, so that left me more or less without Superman or Batman to talk to. And at that point, finding the other voice actors would've required more detective work than I was capable of.

Even though I'd given up on the book idea, I still wanted to know about the rest of the cast. For the most part, you never really got to see what they looked like. Adam West, who voiced (duh) Batman on the last two seasons of the show, I'd also grown up with, so I knew what he looked like. And Casey Kasem, who did the voice for Robin, was no mystery, either. Norman Alden, who did Aquaman for the first two seasons, was a regular character actor (he played Frank on "ElectraWoman and DynaGirl" and was Lou the cafe owner in "Back to the Future"), so I'd seen him a number of times. And Michael Bell--Zan (among a billion other voices on Saturday mornings)--was Groppler Zorn in the first episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

But that still left all the other characters and the actors who voiced them. What did they look like? Little by little, it became easier to find the few episodes of TV that featured one actor or another. Danny Dark appeared as a TV anchor in the comedy "Tunnelvision," and I recognized him the minute he started speaking.

But it wasn't until last week that I learned a lot about the majority of the voices of the Superfriends. And that I owe to author Marc Tyler Nobleman, who in addition to being a prolific author, also has a kickass blog in which he has a section of interviews with a number of Superfriends cast members. Even more amazing, he has talked to actors from Hanna-Barbera's oft-mocked live-action "Legends of the Superheroes" shows. The legwork he had to do to find many of these people astounds me. It was really neat to get to hear about the people whose voices were a large part of my childhood.

And while I was even further amazed to read about the people who were in the Sea World superheroes water ski show that I saw advertised but never witnessed in person, I think my favorite interview is the one he did with actor Bo Rucker, the guy who played the pimp in "Superman: The Movie." You know:


That was one of the most-quoted lines on the playground (by me, anyway) back in the day, and it never in a million years would've occurred to me that I'd ever read an interview with him. He seems like a cool guy, too.

The Internet amazes me. In this case, in a good way. Not like one of those "things you can't unsee" kind of ways.