Who Are They? Ten Famous Voices and Who They Really Belong To
Whether welcoming us to our favorite TV or radio show, telling us about a new product, or even reminding us to dial '1' before the area code; we hear familiar, famous voices all the time in the media. Have you ever stepped back and wondered who some of these people are? Here are some of the people behind the voices we all hear every day.
This lovable Sesame Street character first appeared in the 1970s, voiced by Caroll Spinney. Since then, three other people have offered their voice as Elmo's. Most notably is Kevin Clash, who currently plays Elmo and has held the role since 1985.
Pillsbury created Poppin' Fresh in the 1960's for a marketing campaign, and Paul Frees was given the role. Frees held the role until he passed away in 1986, leaving the voice to be taken over by Jeff Bergman. Bergman relinquished the character to JoBe Cerny, who has been the voice since 1987. Cerny is also the voice most commonly associated with the character, having served hundreds of TV commercials in his years with the role.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried started in the role, but he was dismissed by Aflac after some comments the company deemed distasteful. His replacement is a Minnesota native by the name of Daniel McKeague. McKeague comes from a radio background, currently working as a sales manager for a group of radio stations in the Twin Cities.
Edwards started his career in radio, and was given the opportunity by an up-and-coming company named America Online (AOL) to voice a couple messages for their new email product. The most famous of these is, of course "You've got mail!" which became a catch phrase in the 1990's. According to a Cleveland Magazine story, he is now working as a graphics and video editor for a local TV station.
Mike Henry got his start with the FOX series "Family Guy" as the character Cleveland Brown. He also lends his voice to the recurring character Herbert, the creepy older gentleman on the show. Since FOX added spinoff series "The Cleveland Show" to their lineup, Henry has also taken on the baby character Rallo. Along with these three characters, Henry also contributes as many other secondary characters in both series.
Smokey Bear was introduced to the world during the World War II era, in an effort to protect the valuable resources of American forests and manpower during a time of national need. Jackson Weaver of WMAL radio served as the original voice of Smokey until his death in 1992. Although other voice actors offered their voice to the character, Weaver's recorded voice served as the official voice of Smokey until the mid-2000's, when the National Forest Service revived the character with actor Sam Elliott. Elliott is also known for his extensive acting career including roles in "Road House" and "Tombstone."
Heard in a variety of Mix 108 promos and other on-air Mix 108 stuff, Sean is actually a nationally recognized voice in radio and television. Beside being heard on Mix 108, Sean has been heard on CNN, The Weather Channel, Fox Sports, and many radio stations around the country.
The Geico Gecko first appeared in 1999 and was voiced by actor Kelsey Grammer of "Cheers" and "Frasier" fame. After some refinement of the character, Jake Wood took over and made the character who he is today. Wood, an English actor, brought a distinct and recognizable accent to the character we all know today. Although Wood is known in America for being the Geico Gecko, he is also famous in Europe for his acting career which notably features his character in the BBC series "EastEnders."
Tony the Tiger was given life in the 1950's by Kellogg's and has been a breakfast staple since. Tony was briefly voiced by Dallas McKennon, but Thurl Ravenscroft took over the duties took over voice duties; giving us the famous "They're Grrrrrreat!" We've all grown up with. Ravenscroft passed away in 2005 and was replaced by Lee Marshall, but Ravenscroft still remains the vocal identity of Tony the Tiger in the memory of most Americans. Ravenscroft was also famous for his singing career, singing many songs for children's films. The most famous of these songs is the seasonal classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch."
That epic narrator that told us about every movie coming out for years, Don Lafontaine, rounds out our list. Lafontaine, a Duluth native, headed into the army after finishing high school. Once he finished his time serving his country, he moved to New York to work as a sound engineer. He was known by many as "The Voice of God" or "Thunder Throat," but the world knew him universally as the guy that narrated the greatest movie trailers. Making something of a catchphrase of "In a world..." his voice was lent to countless voice duties from narrating movies, movie trailer voiceovers, awards announcer, and much more. Lafontaine passed away in 2008, but his voice and memory live on.