I’m going to admit it up front, this article is meant to generate controversy. I fully expect arguing and name-calling in the comments section. But that’s okay, because this article is all about what I like, and if I leave out any of your favorites, it’s up to you to defend their honor. Because here is a list of MY favorite voice-over artists.
I’ll start with the best, the legendary Mel Blanc. Blanc is famous for his 60+ year career voicing literally hundreds of popular and beloved characters. His most well-known work was for Warner Bros., creating distinct voices for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and virtually the entire Looney Toons stable. Blanc’s talent was for creative voices that were on their own just as distinct as any other aspect of the characters. Other notable Blanc voices include Barney Rubble, Cosmo Spacely (The Jetsons), Speed Buggy, Woody Woodpecker, and Toucan Sam.
It’s an injustice that June Foray is nowhere near as well-known as Mel Blanc. While her work is not as iconic, it is certainly no less diverse. For Warner Bros., Foray provided the voices of Granny and Witch Hazel, as well as every incidental female character during her years with the studio. However, she is probably better known for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show as Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, Nell Fenwick, and many minor roles. She also performed in many Rankin/Bass TV specials, most notably as Karen in Frosty the Snowman. Additional popular roles include Ursula on George of the Jungle, Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), and the voice of the original Chatty Cathy doll, as well as the evil Talky Tina of The Twilight Zone.
Keeping pace with West is Dan Castellaneta, whom you may be forgiven for mistaking for the entire population of Springfield on The Simpsons. Homer Simpson is, of course, his main role, but he also produces a full range of characters from the gravel-voiced Krusty the Clown to the squeaky pimple-faced teenager. His talent isn’t just for voices, either. Castellaneta is known for great improvisation leading to many of the show’s most quotable lines, including Homer’s famous “D’oh!”
Tara Strong, what exactly can I say except to provide a partial list of her work? Hello Kitty (title character), Bubbles (Powerpuff Girls), Dil Pickles (Rugrats), Timmy Turner (Fairly Odd Parents), Princess Clara and Toot Braunstein (Drawn Together), Raven (Teen Titans), Batgirl (various), Terrance (Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends), Ben Tennyson (Ben 10), Melody (Ariel's daughter, The Little Mermaid II). She also has an extensive videogame resume, most notably Rikku of Final Fantasy. In other words, she’s damn good.
Sterling Holloway lent his unique raspy tenor voice to the narration of several Disney animated productions—my personal favorite being that for Mickey and the Beanstalk—but it was as the beloved bear, Winnie the Pooh, that he is probably best remembered. An interesting bit of trivia, Holloway auditioned for the role of Garfield, but lost to Lorenzo Music.
The voice of Garfield the cat, in many people’s opinion including my own, is Lorenzo Music. His low, sardonic tone perfectly suited the mischievous yet lazy feline. He is also fondly remembered as Carlton, the unseen doorman from Rhoda. He also voiced Peter Venkman from The Real Ghostbusters before Bill Murray complained and put an end to Music’s portrayal of their shared character. Ironically, Murray would go on to voice Garfield in the live-action/CGI films.
Few voices are more perfectly, deliciously menacing than that of Elenor Audley, the voice of Sleeping Beauty villainess, Maleficent and also Cinderella’s Lady Tremaine. Her vocal style switched effortlessly from cool and threatening to booming and fierce. Though her resume is brief, Audley helped create arguably the most iconic Disney villains and the legacy thereof.
Christine Cavanaugh may not be a true one-trick pony, but she stuck to a particular vocal type. She mainly did nasaly, nerdy characters, such as Chuckie Finster (Rugrats) and Dexter (Dexter’s Laboratory), though my personal favorite was the rambunctious Gosalyn Mallard from Disney’s Darkwing Duck. Her biggest claim to fame, however, was voicing the titular pig in the movie Babe.
Finally, I want to give honorable mention to Walt Disney. To cartoon fanatics, he is rightly loved for a whole host of reasons. Thus his stint as the original voice of Mickey Mouse often gets overlooked as a reason. In all honesty, it wasn’t all that great; just a grown man squeaking in falsetto. But the act perfectly captures the audacity of the man.