Pop star Tiffany never should have replaced Janet Waldo as Judy Jetson
The Jetsons dumped voice actor Janet Waldo in 1990. "This just hurt my feelings," Waldo said.
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One of the most memorable Judy Jetson moments from the futuristic cartoon The Jetsons came in the second episode of the series, "A Date with Jet Screamer."
In the episode, which first aired in 1962, Judy enters a songwriting contest and her winning tune snags her a date with a rock star named Jet Screamer (voiced by Howard "Ernest T. Bass" Morris of The Andy Griffith Show).
It makes a ton of sense that when it came time to make Jetsons: The Movie in 1990, this famous plot point would be retooled in the feature film. In the movie, however, the rocker's name is Cosmic Cosmo and it's Judy's friend who wins a date with him — much to Judy's dismay.
The heartbreak carried over behind the scenes.
The entire original voice cast was used for Jetsons: The Movie… except for the original Judy Jetson, voice actor Janet Waldo.
Waldo was unceremoniously replaced by the teen idol Tiffany, who had never acted in anything before. The singer had become a sensation in 1987, thanks largely to her No. 1 smash, "I Think We're Alone Now," a cover of the Tommy James & The Shondells hit from the 1960s. Tiffany, fading from popularity as a new decade dawned, sang three songs on the Jetsons movie soundtrack.
"I was totally crushed," Waldo told The Orlando Sentinel in 1990. "If they had recast the whole show, there wouldn't have been any problem at all. But the fact that my part was the only one that was changed just threw me."
Waldo had voiced decades of characters for William Hanna and Joseph Barbera cartoons by that point in her career, so she specifically felt stung that they didn't insist she stay as Judy's sole voice actor.
"I felt it was very disloyal," Waldo said.
"I can understand how Janet feels," Hanna responded in the Sentinel piece. In his memoir, Barbera blamed the decision to replace Waldo on Universal Studios, who had recently bought the movie rights to The Jetsons from Paramount Pictures and who was directly invested in promoting Tiffany's career.
The biggest insult of all is that the decision was made to cast Tiffany to replace Janet — after Janet had already recorded dialogue for the entire movie.
The entire movie! Barbera thought that was crazy, too!
"Bit by bit, the Universal people tended to take over the project," Barbera said. "They were promoting a singer named Tiffany, and they cast her as Judy Jetson in place of Janet [Waldo], the woman who had voiced the role in the television series and who, in fact, had already completed recording the movie."
"It was purely a business decision, based on the thought that Tiffany would bring in more dollars at the box office," Hanna said. (Unfortunately for Tiffany and Universal, the movie flopped. Her subsequent third album, New Inside, which came out shortly after the animated feature film, failed to chart as well.)
Throughout the movie, there are rumored to be moments when Waldo's recordings as Judy remain, though all her Judy voicework was meant to be cut. As a consolation prize, the veteran voice actor voiced a robot secretary.
"I know this broke Janet's heart," Barbera lamented, "Although, she took it like the trooper and professional she is."
In the Sentinel piece, Waldo was clearly conflicted by the feeling of protesting a Hanna-Barbera production, still feeling loyal despite feeling hurt.
"I don't like to bad-mouth Hanna-Barbera because they've been very good to me and I've been told that this is just a one-shot thing, but this just hurt my feelings," Waldo said.
After the movie came out, though, Waldo never voiced the character again.
For his part, Barbera never forgot his guilt over cutting her out of the movie.
"Having worked for so many years with Janet, I felt terrible about it, and I still do," Barbera said.
For Tiffany, there were no tears. This was her feature film debut, and she was so new to acting, she laughingly told Entertainment Tonight that she was a little surprised when they asked her to cry on cue.
"All of a sudden, when somebody says to cry, you're thinking, 'I'm glad to be here, what's to cry about?" Tiffany joked.
She said without mentioning Waldo's name that she "tried not to be intimidated" by replacing Waldo's voice on the cartoon classic.
Waldo likely never heard how Tiffany changed Judy Jetson's voice. She told the Sentinel that she couldn't bear to watch the movie.
"I originated the character, and I feel very sentimental about Judy," Waldo said.