Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another John Stephenson video clip...

I'm often on the look for video of voice actor, John Stephenson, and once I come across something I share it. I came across this YouTube video clip the other day...in several of his biographies it makes mention that he hosted an early outdoors series titled Bold Journey. I don't know why I never thought to look up videos of the series until recently but I came across several episodes but only one, so far, did I come across featuring John Stephenson as host and here it is...



Some of the film/audio at the beginning jumps around a little...but it's watchable. John appears on camera introducing that episode's guest and then he appears again near the end after the guest is finished describing his nature film.

I post this because of John's largely obscure early career on TV. He appeared on many episodic television programs of the '50s and '60s...often in dramatic anthology programs and occasionally on sitcoms...but it's often impossible to find the specific episodes of television programs that he actually appeared on. Sometimes one will pop up on-line. If you've seen any of the late '60s episodes of Dragnet, you'll hear John Stephenson's voice often reading the results of the trial.

If you're familiar or a fan at all of a certain cartoon franchise it's impossible to separate that voice from many, many, many Scooby-Doo cartoons (1969-1991). I often cite that series first but he had been providing voices for Hanna-Barbera since at least 1960...that's the year The Flintstones debuted...and John Stephenson voiced Mr. Slate and other authority figures. In the middle part of the '60s he became one of the regular voice artists in the Hanna-Barbera circle providing vocals for authority figures and villains. His natural speaking voice, as you hear in the video clip, is heard often in those cartoons but he would also elevate it into a higher or lower tone (depending on the character's personality) for various other characters. Very seldom did he have 2 characters speaking to one another...unless the vocalizations happened to be drastically different from one another...given the distinction of his natural voice sprinkling through his characterizations.

Most often his characters were interchangeable given their authoritative demeanor.

In one series for Hanna-Barbera in the mid '60s spotlighting characters by the name of Breezly Bruin and Sneezly Seal, Stephenson provided the voice of additional characters but his main role happened to be that of Col. Fusby...always fussing about Breezly's mayhem and rule breaking at a military camp. Howard Morris voiced the Bruin and Mel Blanc, in a cold in the nose vocal, played the Seal. In another series, Squiddly Diddly, Stephenson voiced the perpetually put upon Chief Winchley of the tourist attraction, Bubble Land, and Paul Frees provided the voice of the starring character. One of John Stephenson's truly vicious, evil, snarling, and amoral characters happened to be Captain Leech in the cartoon series, The Adventures of Gulliver. He not only had the distinction of voicing the evil Captain Leech but the scatterbrained King Pomp. There are several episodes of that series on YouTube.

In another series, Arabian Knights, John provided the voice of the comical genie, Fariek, and the evil Bakaar. That animated series is also on YouTube. I'm embedding this one, specifically, due to John Stephenson having some pretty hefty vocal work in this particular episode.

You'll also hear the vocals of Jay North, Sherry Lewis, Henry Corden, Frank Gerstie, Don Messick, and Paul Frees...



Later on, in various Scooby-Doo episodes, John Stephenson demonstrated his skilled mimicry of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Joe Flynn. Still later he did impressions of Paul Lynde (Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics) in the role of co-host, Mildew Wolf. Lynde had originated the vocal performance in an earlier cartoon series (a segment called "It's the Wolf!!" on the Cattanooga Cats series) but he didn't return for the Laff-a-Lympics series. In the same Laff-a-Lympics series, Stephenson did a Jimmy Durante impression...becoming the new voice of Doggy Daddy (a character that Hanna-Barbera originally produced in the early '60s and voiced by Doug Young). Around the same point in time (mid '70s), Stephenson began voicing numerous villains and secondary characters in the Dynomutt, Dog Wonder series. One such villain, The Blimp, allowed Stephenson to do a vocal impression of Alfred Hitchcock.

I hope you all continue to enjoy the marvelous work of the elusive legend, John Stephenson!!

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