9 times you heard Mel Blanc's voice in a live-action TV show
The man of a thousand voices was in everything from Perry Mason to Gilligan's Island.
Image: The Everett Collection
Mel Blanc is one of the most, if not THE most, prolific voice actors in history. It's harder to name a famous animated character he didn't voice than one he did. His incredible talent for inflection can be heard coming out of the mouths of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam – and that's just from Looney Tunes shorts!
Blanc was also in many Hanna-Barbera productions, including voicing Barney Rubble on The Flintstones.
But Hollywood's go-to voice talent wasn't just in animated programs. Here are nine times Mel Blanc lent his famous vocal chords to live-action TV shows.
1. The Abbott and Costello Show
One of Mel Blanc's earliest live-action voice roles on television was on The Abbott and Costello Show in 1953. Blanc voiced a parrot belonging to an elderly woman who was thrown out on the street after she couldn't pay rent. Abbott and Costello try to help her as the parrot comments on their incompetence (they accidentally load most of her things onto a Salvation Army truck). Like much of his live-action voice work, Blanc was not credited for this episode.
2. Perry Mason
In another parrot role, Blanc voiced a tropical bird named Casanova in the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Perjured Parrot." Despite technically being in a title role, Blanc went uncredited once again. It's a very unconventional episode of the classic legal drama for a number of reasons — not least of which because crucial testimony comes from a squawking bird. It takes place in the small town of Logan City, instead of Los Angeles, and proceedings are held at a hearing following a coroner's inquest, not a typical criminal court. Though a bit outside the norm, it has its fair share of twists and makes for an interesting episode.
3. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
After appearing in the episode "The Best Dressed Man" as a menswear store owner, Mr. Zeigler, Blanc lent his voice to The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as two talking mynah birds in "Strictly for the Birds." When Dobie and Maynard see their professor's talking bird, Binky, they hatch a plan to pass their history test with the help of their own intelligent (and vocal) feathered friend named Arthur. There's even a quick shout-out to Blanc's most famous character. Maynard whistle's for Arthur but a rabbit comes to the window instead. Maynard calls the bunny "Bugs" before putting him back outside.
4. Gilligan's Island
Blanc was in three different episodes of Gilligan's Island – or at least his voice was. He voiced an unnamed parrot in "Angel on the Island," a frog that helps the gang find water in "Water, Water Everywhere" and another parrot, named Sam, who constantly asks for crackers in "New Neighbor Sam." Unlike in shows past, Blanc was credited for all three roles.
5. The Munsters
Blanc's first recurring voice role on a live-action TV show came on The Munsters. He provided vocals for the bird inside the cuckoo clock in six episodes from 1964-1966. Of course, this being The Munsters, it was not a cuckoo but a raven that poked its head out. Its catchphrase, "Nevermore," was a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's famous poem "The Raven." Blanc was not the only voice of the bird, however. Bob Hastings, who played Lt. Elroy Carpenter on McHale's Navy, also provided the raven's speech in many episodes.
6. The Flying Nun
Blanc also voiced a parrot on The Flying Nun starring Sally Field. In the first-season episode "Polly Wants a Cracked Head," saloon owner Rose Dolan is fed up with her talkative bird and threatens to get rid of him. Sister Bertrille takes pity on Junior (the parrot) and tries to hide him in the convent, even though animals aren't allowed. Junior’s loud mouth gives him away and his foul language ruffles the feathers, no pun intended, of Mother Superior Placido.
7. Here's Lucy
One of the more interesting times Mel Blanc did voiceover work for live-action TV is in Lucille Ball's Here's Lucy. He dubbed the voice of someone in the episode. The show started season two with four installments shot on location at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. In the second episode, Lucy and the family get caught up in the academy's training exercises. Blanc provides a voice over the radio for Red Company (one side of the war games) and also the voice of a Red Company cadet, Woodward, even though the cadet appears onscreen… played by someone else!
8. Night Gallery
After voicing a raven referencing Edgar Allen Poe, Blanc used his famous vocal chords to bring to life that actual raven in a short Night Gallery segment about the 19th-century writer. Marty Allen, one half of the comedy duo Allen & Rossi, played Poe as he struggles to come up with the first lines of his famous "midnight dreary" poem. In a comedic turn, the raven suggests an obvious rhyme and calls Poe a dummy. Instead of playing it creepy, Blanc dubs the bird in a cartoony voice familiar to any Looney Tunes fan.
9. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Last but definitely not least is Blanc's turn as the voice of Twiki, the small robot sidekick in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Actor Felix Silla wore the costume and together with Blanc's low voice created one of the weirder elements of a very weird show. Blanc voiced Twiki, including his signature "biddi biddi biddi," in 27 episodes from 1979–81.