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.

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PatrickRsGhost 24 months ago
He made several appearances in "The Jack Benny Program", both on radio and television. One of his most memorable roles on the TV show was as a department store clerk who had to keep retrieving and rewrapping a Christmas gift Jack purchases for Don Wilson. In another episode, he played a man auditioning for Jack's TV show, claiming he could do various animal sounds.
nemalki 24 months ago
Here's the tenth entry for you. Mel Blanc made an uncredited appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents once.

In the episode "The Greatest Monster of Them All" (which aired on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1961, during the sixth season), Mel played the dubbed voice of Ernst von Croft's (Richard Hale) character in the low-budget vampire film in the episode. You could recognize that legendary Bugs Bunny voice anywhere, doc.
lancel 40 months ago
He was also in a Beverly hillbillies as a taxi driver and granny gave him trouble
LynCarceo 42 months ago
Wow! he played a lot of birds! I loved him as Twiki. And of course, all his cartoon voices. The man was incredible!
Prof_Trudo 44 months ago
Does the movie “Strange Brew” count? He played the father of the McKenzie brothers.
jkmaui 44 months ago
He was in at least one episode of the Beverly Hillbillies.
Yes, he played a cabbie on one of the black & white episodes. He gave Granny a ride home, but they thought he was a masher when he wanted to be paid. Mel ultimately believed it was a very exclusive mental asylum, where Jed Clampett thought he was Abe Lincoln, and Granny had "bubbles in the think tank." I would be very surprised if Mel didn't improvise some of his own dialog. Nobody else in the history of the show sounded like Mel.
Diz TrainLeavingonTrack5 44 months ago
Classic episode. He referred to their mansion as "The Ha-Ha Hotel".
Pozimbo 44 months ago
As long as we're being informative, let's remember it's Edgar ALLAN Poe.
Wiseguy Pozimbo 44 months ago
Yes, and it was misspelled as "Allen"* on that Night Gallery segment. Similarly, Adolf Hitler's name was misspelled on Hogan's Heroes as "Adolph" on at least one episode.

*It has been suggested that the misspelling was done on purpose because the actor's name was spelled Allen. An inside-joke.
TexasGreek 44 months ago
Mel Blanc represents a huge piece of American fabric, possibly World fabric. Such a gifted and versatile man is priceless.
SalIanni 44 months ago
I liked the shows where Mel Blanc appeared in person like the Jack Benny show, "The Best Dressed Man" from "Dobie Gillis" and one of my favorite "Beverly Hillbillies" episodes, "Granny Learns To Drive" where he plays a cab driver who picks up Granny and later regrets it.
cperrynaples SalIanni 43 months ago
Yeah, and Benny qualifies for this list because he was Benny's parrot AND his Maxwell! Bonus question: what cartoon character used Mel's Maxwell voice?
VBartilucci 44 months ago
There's another one that may not count as they used archival recordings. There's an episode of The Bill Cosby show that featured a kid who swore profusely, and instead of a simple beep, they used the Road Runner's "Beep-Beep"
justjeff VBartilucci 44 months ago
More trivia from the deep well of useless information: The "Beep Beep" sound is actually a recording of someone who worked in the animation department of Warner Brothers and used it when trying to pass by people in those offices by vocalizing "Meep Meep". Listen closely and you'll actually hear he's saying 'Meep' instead of 'Beep"...
Pacificsun justjeff 44 months ago
But doesn't that sound actually accompany a certain animated character that was in a cartoon? I don't remember the name, but I can certainly remember the "meep, meep" sound going along with it. It's very distinctive.
justjeff Pacificsun 44 months ago
Of course... they appropriated the sound for the Road Runner's 'voice'...
stephaniestavropoulos 44 months ago
There was an aspect to voicing Bugs Bunny that Mel Blanc didn't like: He hated when he had to say lines while munching on carrots. He hated carrots, and made certain there was a garbage can by him so he could immediately spit them out.
Interesting trivia, Steph! Thanks for sharing that!!
justjeff 44 months ago
Mel got his start in cartoons by proving his versatility in doing "an English horse" upon request- a story he loved to recall, complete with the "Whinny--Raw-ther" punchline.

His version of Porky Pig was what the studio had hoped for in obtaining 'a good take' as it retained the character's stutter and was easier to record [because the original voice actor actually did stutter and wasted foot after foot of film because of the difficulty of his speech impediment].

Did you know Mel Blanc was allergic to carrots? Yes... yet he bravely chomped on them when recording Bugs Bunny, and had a bucket nearby for him to immediately spit out the carrot pieces after recording his lines.
bry5211 justjeff 44 months ago
Thanks for the info! In high school, ‘friends’ kiddingly mocked my stutter. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ( though it didn’t feel that way)
justjeff 44 months ago
Additionally, Mel had a lot of screen time alongside Jack Benny on Benny's TV program. Blanc worked the Benny radio show for years (including 'voicing' Jack's old Maxwell automobile!), as well as playing "The Happy Mailman" on the Burns and Allen radio show. He later used that same voice for Hardy Har Har - the unhappy "laughing hyena" of the Lippy the Lion cartoons. Blanc also appeared on some early episodes of "Fibber McGee and Molly" and even had his own short lived radio program.
MrsPhilHarris justjeff 44 months ago
There are a number of episodes of The Jack Benny Programme both tv and old time radio where Mel works in a department store and Jack keeps coming back and changing the Christmas gift he bought. Poor Mel even moves to Palm Springs and bumps into Jack again.
justjeff MrsPhilHarris 44 months ago
The TV version of that episode is available on budget 'public domain' DVD discs... and Mel is hilarious in his frustration over Benny's indecisiveness. On Benny's TV show, Mel was also Jack's French violin instructor, a plumber and other characters including "the crazy Mexican" (Si-Sy-Sew-Sue)...
MrsPhilHarris justjeff 44 months ago
I agree Mel was hilarious!
cperrynaples MrsPhilHarris 43 months ago
Yes, and don't forget Benny's exasperated violin teacher!
cperrynaples justjeff 43 months ago
And his Mexican character was named Sy and his sister Sue! Si?
DavidBartholomew justjeff 43 months ago
I'm an Uber driver in Southern California, around the Rancho Cucamonga area. There is a Rochester Street and Benny Avenue. As I take the 20 somethings, I always tell them about The Jack Benny Program, especially the train Conductor.

"Now leaving on Track 7, for Anaheim, Azusa, and Cuc-"

Oh No!

justjeff 44 months ago
MeTV is only "technically" correct in listing Elmer Fudd as one of Mel Blanc's voices. After Arthur Q. Bryan (who originated the voice) died in 1959 [shortly after completing "What's Opera, Doc?"] another voice actor took over as Fudd for a while. It was during the early 1960s that Blanc finally assumed the role of Bugs' and Daffy's nemesis - and Blanc was reported to have said that this was one of the most difficult voices he'd ever learned to do.

It's no secret that only Blanc received screen credit for the Warner Brothers cartoons [as per his contract], but he worked alongside Arthur Q. Bryan, Stan Freberg, Sara Berner, Bea Benadaret, June Foray and many other very talenta voice artists...

Did you know that Mel Blanc was the original voice of Woody Woodpecker long before Grace (Mrs. Walter) Lantz took over that character?
daDoctah justjeff 44 months ago
For a short time, Elmer's voice was done by Hal Smith, better known in MeTv circles as town drunk Otis Campbell from the Andy Griffith Show. (Hal was short for "Harold", and Smith shared the birth name "Harold Smith" with another well-known actor from Canada's First Nations. That other Harold Smith performed under the stage name "Jay SIlverheels".)
Pacificsun daDoctah 44 months ago
All of you making the comments above .... are THE Trivia Masters!!
justjeff daDoctah 44 months ago
Thanks for reminding me... I'd blanked on Hal Smith's name when I was wriring that piece. Thank you too, Pacificsun for the kind words...
BDuFrain 44 months ago
Twiki from Buck Rogers was awesome. Wouldn’t be the same without Mel’s voice.
teire 44 months ago
As Andy would say, he was a bird in this world. Mostly.
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