Frank Welker: Master of Many Voices
(continued from page 1)

The voice of Freddie from the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons was provided by Welker. Courtesy of Cartoon Network. © Hanna-Barbera Cartoons.

"They kept asking me to read for Freddie. They said, 'Look, we've already decided on Don Messick as the dog. But, you still have a chance as Freddie.' I said, 'Freddie? He's the straight guy. Maybe I could do Shaggy because it is such a character voice.' Coincidentally, Casey wanted to do the voice of Freddie. Well, Casey and I ended up getting just the opposite parts we thought we would."

Welker describes working with Joe Barbera as "great."

"Here I was, brand new, and I was sitting around the table with Don Messick and John Stephenson and Henry Corden and all these really great voice actors, and Joe Barbera would say, 'Okay, you've got the part of the villain and it's a guy named Coal Miner and he's a real bad dude. John, you want to take a try at it?' And John would read about four or five lines. And Joe would say, 'Okay, that sounds good. Messick, you want to try?' Don would read it and Joe would go, 'Okay, anybody else?' And he wouldn't look at me because I'm 'twelve-years-old.'

"And I'd go, 'Joe!'

"'You want to read for it? All right. Go ahead. This guy is 50 years-old and he's the villain.' And I'd read for it and he'd say, 'Welllll, pretty good, pretty good. Tell ya what; I'm gonna give it to Stephenson, but, that was really good.'

"The next time we'd read something, he'd say, 'This guy is 80 years-old, but Frank, you want to read for it?' He would ask you if you wanted to read. Then sometimes you'd get it.

"But it was so much fun. There was no fear, because we all knew we were going to take our best shot. The competition is reading right in front of you, but it doesn't matter. You're showing off for Joe, getting to read all these different characters. And you’d get rewarded by getting it every once in awhile.

"I'm identified quite a bit with doing the dogs and animals -- which is usually good for me because in almost every show there's some sort of animal. So at least I get in the show. Sometimes, if there's other characters I get to read those, too," he says.

Going On Instinct
Today, Welker notes that actors are often cast before they arrive at the sessions.

"Sometimes you'll audition and they've got you written down for the roles they expect from you, and that's the work part of it, you know," the actor says ruefully. "That's not quite as fun."

For Welker, preparing for an audition is, "a pretty quick process. The ideal situation is that the studio provides the actor with artwork. I look at the character and immediately, a voice comes to my mind.

"When somebody asks you something and you say the first thing that comes out, it's usually -- for you -- correct. It may not be what they want, and may not be what the studio wants, but as an artist or as a performer or as a human being, you look at something and you react. Initially, what you react to is usually what's the most comfortable and what you have the most latitude in.

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