You can thank Don Messick's ''flexible voice'' for all your favorite cartoon characters

Messick began his journey to becoming a voice actor when he was just an adolescent.

Credit: Warner Brothers

When you're a voice actor, viewers often make the mistake of assuming that the most you can do in your profession is voice a cartoon character. The reality is that once you've realized you have a knack for voice acting and are able to hone your craft, you have a range of opportunities that are now accessible.

This was how Don Messick chose to take on a career as a voice actor. Messick, who is typically noted for his voice performances as characters like Astro the Dog and Scooby Doo, actually got his beginnings as a ventriloquist. He spoke with the Associated Press about his early life, and revealed, "When my voice changed when I was 13, I discovered its flexibility."

It was then that he decided to put that range to good use. He said, "I became a ventriloquist. That was during the era of Charlie McCarthy. I started entertaining at rural affairs on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where I grew up." The Dummy's name was Woody DeForest and cost Messick fifteen dollars at the time.

When Messick got a bit older, he moved on to radio, where he had his very own radio show in the town of Salisbury. After high school, Messick went to acting school, where he said, "I learned how bad I was and how much technique I needed to learn."

Messick stated that he then worked on different puppet shows, providing voices, before he was finally introduced to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who were at a turning point in their career and had just left MGM to begin their own cartoon studio. Obviously, it worked out well for everyone, because Messick stated, "I'm still on a day player contract, but I've worked every year for them for the past 26 years."

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7 Comments

Karenski51 1 month ago
I saw the “Incurable Collector” on my channel 42 over the weekend. I don’t see it any more. How can I get it back?
justjeff 1 month ago
Don Messick, Paul Frees, Mel Blanc, June Foray, Alan Reed, Daws Butler, Arthur Q. Bryan, Bill Thompson, Dayton Allen, Sandy Becker, Bea Benadaret, Shepard Menkin, Jean Van Der Pyl, Janet Waldo, Edward Everett Horton, Hans Conreid... these are some of the many legendary voices that made old time radio and animated cartoons so enjoyable and memorable...
MrsPhilHarris justjeff 1 month ago
I recognize most of those voices whether it’s a comedy, a detective show, a western, etc.
justjeff MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
All great performers... Some might not recall Shep Menken... he was the voice of Clyde Crashcup (an impression of Richard Haydn) in the Alvin Show cartoons...
Runeshaper 1 month ago
That is totally AWESOME! I love Astro and Scooby!
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