These 10 TV stars quietly voiced cartoon characters without you realizing it
Which voice behind one of these characters was on 'Family Affair'?
Cartoon voice acting is an underrated skill. Television would not have been the same without Mel Blanc, Don Messick and Jean Vander Pyl behind the microphone.
Back in the day, when studios turned their popular primetime sitcoms into toons, the original cast would often voice their characters. Henry Winkler and Ron Howard could be heard on Saturday mornings in The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. Likewise, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams authenticated their animated likenesses in Laverne & Shirley in the Army. Every castaway from Gilligan's Island, minus Tina Louise, came back for Gilligan's Planet in 1982. And so on.
There are also some notable television stars with surprising cartoon credits. A star of 77 Sunset Strip helped Batman fight crime. One of the Mary Tyler Moore Show gang also has a tie to DC superheroes. Two actors from Family Affair racked up credits in cartoons, too.
Let's take a look at some famous faces behind some unlikely toons.
1. Ted Knight in 'Super Friends'
Though best known as Ted Baxter on Mary Tyler Moore, not to mention Caddyshack and Too Close for Comfort, Knight's deep voice rang through some beloved cartoons, too. He had a role in Star Trek: The Animated Series, but most children of the 1970s would recognize his voice as the narrator of Super Friends.
Image: The Everett Collection / Warner Bros.
2. Brad Garrett in 'Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling'
Before playing the elder Barone brother on Everybody Loves Raymond, this distinctive actor was the Hulkster himself. Released at the peak of the WWF's popularity, the cartoon also featured another sitcom star on this list, who you will find at No. 8.
Image: CBS Television Distribution / WWE
3. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. in 'Batman: The Animated Series'
After long, successful runs on 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I., Zimbalist turned to toons. The veteran performer portrayed Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, on the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series (1992–95)
Image: Warner Bros.
4. Paul Lynde in 'The Perils of Penelope Pitstop'
Aside from popping up in the unlikeliest places on Bewitched as Uncle Arthur, Lynde also slayed with his one-liners on Hollywood Squares. The Bye Bye Birdie star also quietly voiced the villain on The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, a spin-off of Wacky Races. He was the villain, Hooded Claw, a.k.a. Sylvester Sneekly.
Image: Sony Pictures Television / Warner Bros.
5. Sebastian Cabot in 'The Jungle Book' and 'Winnie the Pooh'
Perfectly cast as the gentleman butler on Family Affair, Mr. French, Cabot also turned in brilliant performances for Disney. He brought Bagheera to life in The Jungle Book, and narrated several Winnie the Pooh films between 1966–77, until his death.
6. Kathy Garver in 'Spider-Man'
Speaking of Family Affair, the actress behind the show's eldest daughter, Cissy, also had a long career in animation. Garver did a few episodes of Super Friends, voicing Hawkgirl, as well as cartoons like Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos and The New Yogi Bear Show. She twice played superheroes in the Spider-Man universe — first as Firestar in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981–83) and later as Miss America in Spider-Man (1997).
7. Didi Conn in 'Fonz and the Happy Days Gang'
After a guest role on Happy Days, Conn kept the '50s nostalgia rolling with a memorable turn as Frenchy in Grease. She returned to the Happy Days universe as Cupcake in the time-traveling Fonz and the Happy Days Gang romp.
Image: Paramount / CBS Television Distribution
8. James Avery in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'
Uncle Phil! Yes, the trusted guardian of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air played bad guy, too. He was the voice of Shredder, the nefarious villain in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
Image: Warner Bros. Television / CBS Television Distribution
9. Arsenio Hall in 'The Real Ghostbusters'
Here's a thing that'll make you go hmmm…. Before launching his groundbreaking talk show, the comedian found early work voicing Winston Zeddemore in The Real Ghostbusters.
Image: Paramount / Sony
10. Wally Cox in 'Underdog'
Cox was a regular presence on 1960s television, appearing in The Beverly Hillbillies, Lost in Space, Car 54, Where Are You?, The Twilight Zone and more. By that point, he was an old pro, having starred in the early sitcom Mister Peepers (1952–55), alongside Tony Randall. His milquetoast teacher character proved to be good practice for Shoeshine Boy, the humble alter ego of… Underdog! The popular Underdog cartoon ran from 1964–73.
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution