Nancy Cartwright Chats with Andrea Romano -- Part 1
I had the great pleasure of working with these great actors, Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Don Messic, all the classic Hanna-Barbara actors and we even did a series there called The Jetsons [1985-87]. It wasn't even a remake of the original [1962-63] It was 23 years after the first series was made and when Gordon came to me saying we were going to do this, I said let's try to get the original actors. We got all of them and many of them had been retired.
NC: Did you work with Penny Singletone (Jane Jetson)?
AR: Oh, yes, but Penny had, since the first series aired, gotten dentures and they would click. She had a hard time manipulating her lips and tongue around these dentures to get clear articulation for the cartoon so Daws started teaching her and did private classes with sweet Jane Jetson to teach her how to work with her dentures. For many episodes we recorded all the cast. The bizarre and wonderful end of this story, we were recording "The Jetsons" feature which I thought was going to be so wonderful and there was an executive decision made that broke my heart: to replace sweet Janet Waldo (Judy Jetson) with Tiffany because she was the hot thing at the time. I actually had my name taken off the credits because I didn't want the hate mail that I knew would come, and I still got the hate mail. All I could say is: it wasn't my choice. Of course, Janet Waldo is still alive and can still do the voice today which is the wonderful thing about voice-actors. They can do the voice as long as they can still speak. They can do the voice even if we have to wheel them in which we did for some actors.
George O'Hanlon was recording the feature some of the last bits that we were doing and he had not been well, he had had a second stroke. George said, "Andrea, come over and put your ear next to my head." So I did, and I could actually hear the blood pulsing through his skull I could actually hear every heart beat. I said, "George, how do you hear anything?" He said, "It's really getting hard to hear you guys speak to me." As we got through the session, we never tried to record him longer than an hour because we knew it was taxing. We could see him getting paler and paler and I looked at Gordon, who said, "Let's just stop for today and we'll bring you back in next week when you're feeling better." So we called his wife, Nancy, from the office and suddenly his head just pitched forward onto her chest and I saw this look pass between her and Gordon and I knew that something very bad had just happened. Instantly called 911 and the paramedics were at Hanna-Barbara in three minutes to whisk him away to the hospital. We followed him in our car but he had died. They put him on life support in the ambulance but George O'Hanlon really died in the recording session doing what he loved.
NC: Oh my word…
AR: So we went to the hospital and the doctor came out after examining him and said he's gone and Nancy O'Hanlon, God bless her, really had her spiritual stuff together and said, "Please let him go. We talked about this. We knew that this was going to happen one day…there is no reason to keep him on." Isn't that the coolest way to go?
Nancy Cartwright is best known as the voice of spiky-headed Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. She has voiced dozens of cartoon characters in a career that has spanned more than 20 years. Currently, she can be heard as the voice of Rufus the Naked Mole Rat on Disney's Kim Possible and Todd Daring in Disney's The Replacements. To learn more about Nancy's career, listen to her audio book My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy