Michael Jackson – The Thriller Handbook

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Thrilling Facts

About Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was a man known for many things, including his music, his pelvis-centric dance moves, and the fact he was able to wear a fedora without looking like an idiot. But a man as complex and unique as the King of Pop could never be summed up with a list of just three things. So here’s a list of 10, starting with …

 10. He Personally Leaked Some of the More Bizarre Stories About Himself

Jackson, in stark contrast with the innocent child-like persona he adopted in public, was a calculating and efficient self-promoter behind the scenes. For example, he is known to have leaked several stories about himself to the press to ensure he continued to receive column inches in the world’s papers when he wasn’t actively making music.

Stories known to have been planted by Jackson himself include the one about him sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to make himself look younger; the news that he’d made a bid to purchase the skeleton of John Merrick, better known as the Elephant Man; and the fact he shared his bathroom with his pet monkey, Bubbles. While these stories undoubtedly gave Jackson unprecedented levels of media coverage, it eventually backfired when the press simply began making stuff up themselves, much to his annoyance. When the British media began referring to Jackson as “Wacko Jacko” he made the conscious and probably wise decision to stop leaking false stories to the news about his personal life.

9. He Wrote All of His Songs With His Voice

Despite being credited as the sole writer on virtually his entire discography and having a hand in the composition of much of the music to his back catalogue of hits, Michael Jackson rather surprisingly had little affinity for music. By this we mean that although Jackson understood how to compose a song, he could neither play an instrument nor read sheet music. To get around this, Jackson would instead compose his songs entirely in his head and then “sing” them to session musicians while recording his albums.

To this end, Jackson carried around a tape recorder with him at all times, and when inspiration struck – whether it be a musical hook or a guitar riff – he’d sing it into the recorder or, in the event of a bassline, beatbox it. Jackson would then layer all these elements together to create what amounted to acapella versions of his songs. Notoriously secretive, few examples of these recordings exist with there being, to our knowledge at least, a single recording of Beat It in which you can hear Jackson demonstrate this. He also demonstrated the technique in court to shut down a plagiarism suit.

As an example of just how talented Jackson was at emulating the sounds of various instruments with his voice, musicians who worked with him reported that he could “sing” chords and layer his voice skillfully enough to eerily replicate an entire string section.

8. He was an Actual King

For a guy known worldwide as The King of Pop, it’s kind of weird that few people ever talk about that time in 1992 when Michael Jackson actually became a real king.

You see, in the early ’90s Jackson embarked on a tour of Africa, during which he encountered a small kingdom on the Ivory Coast called Sanwi. The people of Sanwi were enamored with Jackson and the tribal chief told him that mystics had foretold that the singer was actually a direct descendent of the Sanwi royal bloodline.

So in a small, but nonetheless extravagant ceremony, the nation crowned Jackson King (an official title he had to sign papers to confirm) and even allowed him to sit in a golden throne set aside for royalty. Jackson’s official title was later reduced to Crown Prince, and his kingly duties were taken up by another man, but he was for all intents and purposes considered genuine royalty from that point on. Sanwi even held a royal funeral for him and declared two days of mourning when he died.

As for why you’ve probably never heard this, Jackson simply never talked about it. In an interview with Ebony magazine in 1992, Jackson was humble about his new found status as a king, telling an interviewer asking how it felt to be a real king:

“I never try to think hard about it.”

7. He Earns More Money Dead Than We Will Alive

Now you’d think that being dead would, for most people, put an end to their ability to make money. Employers are notoriously picky when it comes to hiring people who aren’t alive. Michael Jackson is an apparent exception to this rule, being recognized as the highest earning dead celebrity, earning close to a billion dollars in 2016, more than seven years after his death.

Jackson’s ability to earn unbelievably fat stacks of cash despite the normally insurmountable hurdle of being dead is mainly due to sales and licensing of the vast catalogues of music he owned. Along with his estate owning the rights to his own hits and albums, which continue to make millions, Jackson also bought the rights to his favorite songs during his lifetime, so he earned money when people bought those albums, too (most famously, he bought the rights to the Beatles catalogue in 1985, though Sony has since acquired full ownership, including Jackson’s remaining 50% stake last year). We don’t know if that’s smart or just selfish, but either way we’re mad impressed that a skeleton earns more than us thanks to business decisions it made a decade ago. Speaking of Jackson’s skeleton …

6. His Death Broke Google

Like the Moon landing and losing your virginity, the death of Michael Jackson is an event where you remember exactly where you were when it happened. It was a global event that resulted in an almost immediate outpouring of grief. We say almost, of course, because people had to check Google to make sure the news was accurate.

That’s not us being facetious, by the way. According to stats released by Google themselves minutes after news of the singer’s death broke, so many millions of people tried to search his name that it brought the monolithic website to its knees. Yes, Michael Jackson’s death caused so many people to panic and google his name that it broke Google!

Then again, this is hardly surprising given that a few months before his death news of him touring again caused …

 5. People Scalped His Tickets (That Didn’t Exist Yet) for Hundreds on eBay

News of Michael Jackson’s death was partly shocking because it occurred just weeks before he was due to embark on what he insisted was his last ever set of concerts at the London O2 Arena. The aptly named This Is It concert was set to be the singer’s last hurrah, and consisted of 50 straight sold out shows at the same venue, with people flocking from across the world to see it.

Initially the concert only had 10 shows booked, but the instantaneous selling out of tickets and tidal wave of complaints the venue received for not having enough prompted Jackson to schedule 40 more, all of which, again, sold out minutes after tickets going live.

Demand for tickets was such that Jackson’s official website offered fans a chance to enter a pre-sale draw, essentially securing them a chance to purchase a ticket ahead of time so they wouldn’t have to sit on the ticket website the day they were announced and hit refresh over and over. The offer crashed the website, with a reported 16,000 people trying to apply for the draw every second for several hours.

This unprecedented level of enthusiasm saw people who managed to secure a place in the pre-sale draw able to sell their tickets (which didn’t exist yet) on eBay for upwards of $500 a piece. Then again, it’s not surprising people were so keen to see Jackson perform considering he once …

4. Danced the Moonwalk So Hard Fred Astaire Called to Congratulate Him

Though he didn’t necessarily invent the Moonwalk (the genesis of the move is traced back to dancer Cab Calloway, and is thought to have been perfected by mime Marcel Marceau), he is arguably the person who showed the world just how cool it could look to see a man effortlessly glide backwards like he was just pushed onto a greased air hockey table.

Jackson reportedly learned the move from a pair of dancers named Casper Candidate and Cooley Jaxson, whom he saw perform it on the show Soul Train while sporting dangerously awesome afros. Jackson perfected the dance move and debuted his enhanced version atMotown 25 to a visibly and audibly shocked crowd who couldn’t believe what in the hell they were seeing.

Sitting at home watching the show was an 84-year-old Fred Astaire who, upon seeing Jackson glide across the stage, picked up his phone and called him to gush over how amazing it was. Jackson, a massive fan of Astaire’s, fanboyed down the phone for several minutes before quickly rushing to a nearby bathroom and vomiting in excitement.

3. The Glove was to Hide a Skin Condition

Few artists have a “look” as well defined and iconic as Michael Jackson’s. Everything from his pimpin’ fedora to his needlessly high socks have become ingrained in pop-culture as integral parts of the Jackson mythos. Arguably his singular most defining item of clothing though was his single glove.

Custom made by the same guy who made the gloves for Kate Winslet in Titanic, Jackson’s sported many different styles of gloves over the years. While many assumed that glove was simply for style, because it admittedly does look pretty fly, according to those close to Jackson it was actually used to hide the early stages of vitiligo (a disease which caused the skin to change color and often starts with unsightly blotches on the hands and feet).

While this became somewhat unnecessary in later years as Jackson’s skin tone changed from a deep chocolate, to a creamy mocha, to that of anemic skim milk, the glove was nonetheless an important tool used by the singer to hide something he felt self-conscious about.

2. He Composed an Unknown Amount of the Soundtrack for Sonic 3

Released in 1994, many fans of the blue hedgehog consider Sonic 3 to be one of the best games in the series, partly because it lets you play as Knuckles and partly because that soundtrack though. Well for any fans of the game, you may be pleased to know that Michael Jackson had a hand in creating it, though exactly how much is hotly debated.

The story goes that during development, Sega brought in Jackson to compose the soundtrack for the game, a move that was seen as being in no way weird in the ’90s. Shortly after production on the game began, though, the first allegations of child abuse were leveled at Jackson, prompting Sega to distance themselves from the artist. Today the company denies Jackson had anything to do with the game or its music.

This doesn’t exactly fit with other reports, though, which claim that Jackson had a direct hand in creating a number of tracks for the game, but ultimately became frustrated with the limited range of the sound chip in the Sega Genesis, leaving the project of his own volition. As a result the extent of Jackson’s involvement with Sonic 3 isn’t clear, but for anyone curious, the songs often thought to be the ones most likely to have been composed by Jackson, at least in part, are Carnival Night Zone, Hydrocity Zone, and Ice Cap Zone.

1. He Promised to Write a No. 1 Single… for Bart Simpson

Michael Jackson was a massive fan of The Simpsons, famously lending his voice to the episode “Stark Raving Dad“, which features a man who delusionally thinks he’s Michael Jackson, voiced by… erm… Michael Jackson.

It’s noted that Jackson personally reached out to the staff of the show to ask for a bit part and took his role extremely seriously, taking part in line readings with the rest of the cast and refusing the use of a special trailer set aside for him. During his time with the Simpsons staff, Jackson explained to Matt Groening that Bart was his favorite character and that he wanted to write the troublesome 10 year old a number 1 hit single. Groening laughed, assuming Jackson was joking. He wasn’t joking.

 Jackson, true to his word, went home and composed the basic idea for the song, Do The Bartman, a rap single from the point of view of Bart Simpson. Due to contractual obligations with his label at the time, Jackson had to remain uncredited as a composer, but went against his label’s stipulations and performed back vocals to the track because it’s not like anyone was going to believe the King of Pop would slum it with the voice cast of cartoon. Jackson, seemingly just because he could, also got Bart to namedrop him in the song he was singing in for no apparent reason. Sadly for Jackson the song never became a number one hit in the US, only topping the charts in territories like Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Though that’s mostly because it was never actually released as a single in the States.

Michael Jackson

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TV and Movie Fact-Check – WIF Edu-tainment

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TV Shows and Movies

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Most films and TV shows take place within the confines of their own fictional universe, which differs from our own in varying ways. Even shows that do seemingly take place in our world, like Friends or The Office, are dramatically different to the reality we all know when you take the time to do the math. Not sure what we mean? Well, why not think about the fan calculations that show that…

 10. Rocky is Filled with Marathon-Running Superhumans

Within the Rocky cinematic universe, Rocky Balboa is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all-time. The films tell us Rocky is held in such high regard not for his finesse or skill (in fact that explicitly go out of their way each film to show that Rocky blocks haymakers with his chin), but because he’s made of granite and impossible to knock out.

In the film Rocky Balboa, in which Rocky makes a comeback at about 60 years old, the film makes it clear that his only advantage is his power and ability to take a hit over a much younger boxer. Which doesn’t make sense when you realize a fan worked out that for the now iconic montage sequence in Rocky II, where Rocky runs through Philadelphia, the supposedly made-of-cast-iron boxer sprints for over 30 miles. By analyzing the landmarks shown during the montage a fan worked out that Rocky punch-sprints his way through a marathon and a half, across uneven ground, and still possesses enough energy at the end to sprint up a giant flight of stairs.

This isn’t just unbelievable, it also means that not only is Rocky a world-class boxer with near unrivaled stamina and ability to take a blow, but one of the finest long distance runners to have ever lived… and it’s never mentioned in the movie. Meaning either Rocky had no idea being able to sprint 30 miles and then win a heavy-weight boxing match was a big deal, or more amusingly, that nobody in his universe think it’s impressive. The latter of which is more likely, because for the entire montage Rocky is followed nearly the entire way by a large crowd who run the exact same distance, meaning Rocky’s fictional Philadelphia is filled with random people who can sprint 30 miles like it’s no big deal.

9. The Walking Dead – 99.9998% of the World is Dead

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According to the creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, the universe the characters inhabit, prior to being overrun with shambolic reanimated corpses, was identical to our own save for the fact it didn’t contain any zombie related media. This is why no character on the show ever uses the term “zombie” in any comic or episode.

This is important, because it’s one of the only real clues Kirkman has ever given about the world of TWD, leaving most everything else about it (including the source of the outbreak and even the date it occured) a mystery. This irked some fans, who decided to use what little information the comics and show reveal to work out exactly how many people the show’s zombie apocalypse killed.

One fan in particular, Matt Lieberman, scoured TWD media. Through searching the background of shots with calendars, and noting clothing styles and technology used by the characters, he discovered that the zombie outbreak likely occurred sometime in January 2012. By taking the global population from this time, and a quote from Kirkman saying zombies outnumbers humans “5000 to 1” when the outbreak went global, he was able to discern that only 1.4 million people survived the initial outbreak globally. When you take into account the fact 70% of the characters in TWD die during the series in a country filled with guns, Lieberman additionally calculated that if you extrapolate these figures globally, by the start of seventh season, only about 400,000 people are still alive. That’s roughly 0.0002% of the world’s population.

8. Chandler Bing is Obscenely Wealthy

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There’s a running joke in Friends where nobody is quite sure what the character Chandler Bing does for a living. He clearly works an office job of some kind, and it obviously makes him quite a bit of money, seeing as how he lives in a big-ass New York apartment, pays for his extravagant wedding with his savings, and loans his friend Joey $120,000. Wait, what?

Throughout the series, Chandler lends his roommate Joey a lot of money as well as paying his share of the rent on their apartment for three years. This is clearly established and commented upon in several episodes. In one episode, Joey insists on paying this money back. Chandler works out the rough amount, writes it on a piece of paper and hands it Joey, who sees the figure and immediately backs down.

A Reddit user, curious about what this figure was, calculated the square footage on Chandler’s apartment for the average rent, along with the minimum cost of the other things he buys for Joey like professional headshots and elocution lessons. The minimum figure they come up with for this is $120,760. Remember, this is money Chandler basically gives away to a down-on-his-luck friend who never pays it back in just over three years. That’s approximately $40,000 per year the Chan Man gives away like it’s nothing, meaning he’s presumably earning at least 5 times that. Then again, it’s no wonder he doesn’t seem to mind, considering that another fan worked out that…

7. Every Character in Friends has a Ton of Sex

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The average number of sexual partners a person will have in their lifetime is a figure that’s difficult to pin down, with various sources claiming that the number can be anywhere between 4 and 8 for women and 7 and 11 for men. This said, most sources agree that around 10 is a safe estimate for most of the population over their lifetime. Every character in Friends blows this figure out of the water.

Between the group of six, a Reddit user (it’s always a Reddit user who calculates this stuff) figured that they have approximately 138 combined, different sexual partners. That’s more than 20 each, doubling the top end of the national average. While Joey and Phoebe make up the bulk of this data, accounting for 51 and 32 occasions of being joined at the hip, respectively, even Chandler – a character who is married for five seasons – still manages to have sex with 11 partners.

Ross, on the other hand, a total jerk who treats women like crap, manages to convince 14 women to do the horizontal hug with him. Just think about that for a second. In theFriends universe, Ross has convinced more people to have sex with him in four years than 90% of people reading this will in their entire life.

6. Harry Potter Couldn’t Afford a London Flat with his Vault Full of Gold

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Throughout the Harry Potter series, a rarely mentioned plot point is that the eponymous Harry has a giant vault filled to the brim with big gold coins. Despite having enough cheddar to fund endless magical cocaine and hooker parties, Potter never once decides to use the money to splurge and buy magical supplies that could help defeat wizard Hitler. This may have something to do with the fact that in reality, Harry barely has enough money to afford a crappy 1-bedroom flat.

 You see, although the Galleons in Harry Potter are described as being made of gold, according to JK Rowling they’re only worth about $7 each. A fan took this information, as well as a screenshot from the first film showing the vault (the films were all overseen by Rowling herself), to work out roughly how much money the boy wizard actually inherited from his parents. The answer? About a quarter of million pounds.

This sounds like a lot until you realize that in the UK, this amount of money would barely be enough for Harry to buy himself a half decent London flat. If you’re thinking “maybe the money is worth more in the wizarding world so he’s probably still considered fairly rich,” remember that in the books Harry notes that even if he emptied his entire vault, it still wouldn’t be enough to buy a Firebolt, which could be likened to the wizarding world equivalent of a fancy sports car.

So in other words, Harry, the savior of the wizard race, barely had enough money to buy himself a second hand Ferrari after killing wizard Hitler and watching the only living relative he liked die.

And hey, speaking of fictional net worth…

5. The Simpsons Live Better Than You

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For most of the show’s run, the Simpson family has been portrayed as an average lower-middle class American family. Numerous jokes are made in various episodes that the family is, if not poor, at the very least struggling financially most of the time, with Marge once claiming to feed the entire Simpson family on 12 dollars a week. Which is unusual, seeing as Homer earns a fairly decent wage and the house they live in is massive.

The average wage of a nuclear safety technician (Homer’s job for most episodes) is about $82,000, or about $30,000 more than the average American family earns. Which, among other things, explains how the family has basically trekked the entire globe during the series. However, the most ridiculous thing the Simpsons own is their house.

Again, the Simpson home is often shown as being in a state of poor repair, but even so, it’s almost big enough to be considered a mini-mansion. The house contains at least four bedrooms, several bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a rumpus room, a sitting room, a sauna, and enough lawn space to build an Olympic sized tennis court.

The house has variously estimated to be worth, $300,000, double that of the average American home with at least 3 times as much space.

4. Jim from The Office Wastes Most People’s Savings Being an Awful Colleague

While the American version of The Office has been praised by critics and fans for many reasons over the years, arguably one of the show’s most popular elements is the relationship between the characters Jim Halpert (played by John Krasinski) and Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson).

Most of the character’s interactions revolve around the various pranks played by Jim, which vary in the scope and complexity from simple pranks involving putting his stapler in some Jello, to learning morse code.

A Reddit user (we told you) decided to calculate just how much money Jim wasted basically being an ass to his co-worker and found that, at minimum, he invested $5,000 of his hard earned money playing pranks on a guy he claims not to like. This is 5 times more than most Americans have in their savings account, and Jim pissed it away on making one of his co-worker’s lives just a little bit more difficult for his own amusement. Which, when put that way, makes Jim seem like a bit of a tool.

3. Movies have Spent Billions Rescuing Matt Damon

This entry’s a little different from the other in that it takes into account information from different movies, all of which involve Matt Damon. Specifically, movies involving Matt Damon being rescued from some kind of danger or peril, such as Saving Private Ryan and The Martian.

According to a Quora user with either too much time on their hands or a huge Matt Damon man-crush, within the confines of the fictional universes of Damon’s movies, an estimated $900 billion has been spent rescuing his dumb ass. In our world, this equates to $729 million worth of movie budgets on the various films he’s appeared in that have been spent exclusively on rescuing him from some kind of danger.

2. Walter White Makes $5 Per Second

Exactly how much money Walter White makes while he’s breaking all that bad is never actually fully established in the show. Even the character admits that after a certain point, he simply stopped counting. Fans, however, have worked out from that episode with the giant money pile, and Walt’s own comments to other characters, that he earned about $80 million in two years.

An enterprising Reddit user (we really weren’t kidding) went right ahead and used that impressive figure to calculate how much Heisenberg earned per hour. The final figure they came up with was about $5,000 an hour, every hour, for two years straight. Or $5 per second.

But here’s the thing: seeing as for most of the show, White was basically doing regular shifts making his meth, it’s possible to work out how much more he earned than an average person. Assuming Walt was working the average amount for an American man, which is apparently 34 hours per week, Walt was earning about $23,000 an hour. Taking into account the average American wage ($24 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), Walter White earned 95,000% more than the average American per hour. Not a bad paycheck, all things considered.

1. Someone Figured Out the Main Character of Game of Thrones with Math

What sets Game of Thrones apart from other shows is that it doesn’t really have a main character, instead following the stories of multiple characters of seemingly equal importance who can be killed off at any point.

This didn’t sit well with a math nerd named Andrew J. Beveridge, who used a mathematical formula usually reserved for studying terrorist cells to map out every relationship in the entire series to determine who the most mathematically important character was. By carefully analyzing every interaction between characters in the books, Beveridge was able to accurately pin down which one was the most important to the overall progress of the plot by their connections to other characters, the result? It’s Tyrion, the wine-drinking (P)imp with a silver tongue.

Meaning yes, it has been proved with math that Peter Dinklage is awesome.


TV and Movie Fact-Check

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Hollywood Voice Actors – WIF Edu-tainment

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Edu-tainment-001

Famous Voice Actors

Who Helped Shape

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You probably don’t know their faces, but millions of people know their voices better than they do the voices of their own family. For nearly the past century, these performers brought life to iconic cartoon characters and excited audiences about upcoming films and shows, all without having to spend any time in the hair and makeup department.

Just to clarify the content, we’re restricting the content to people that haven’t had a major role where they are best known as a writer, creator, or performer in front of the camera. That’s why there are no performers like Orson Welles, Mark Hamill, Parker and Stone, Seth MacFarlane, and so forth.

10. Don LaFontaine

There’s not a particular role that general audiences knew him for, but all Don LaFontaine needed were the three words that became his trademark: “In a world.” Although he began working tech jobs, like editing, and also some creative gigs like writing, his true calling was doing voice overs for trailers and other ads, a number of which he wrote himself. By some estimates, over the course of his career, he did hundreds of thousands of these, sometimes as many as 25 in a day.

His personal favorite was when he did the trailer for The Elephant Man, which was kind of a shame because it was 28 years before the end of his career. If that sounds at all like something trivial, bear in mind that at the time of his passing in 2008, he had an estimated net worth of roughly eighty million. He’d also connected with audiences enough that his catchphrase was used as the title for the 2013 hit indie movie In a World.

9. Nancy Cartwright

In the early ’90s, it surprised the world over and over again to learn that cartoon child megastar Bart Simpson was played by a grown woman. Indeed, during the 1991 season premiere for the show, she got to leave attendees feeling a bit odd when she announced, in Bart Simpson’s famous voice, that she was nine months pregnant and on the verge of delivery. In 2000, she was still milking that joke really effectively by publishing her bestselling autobiography, My Life as a Ten Year-Old boy, and then performing her book as a one-woman show.

Cartwright’s success got her future jobs, such as Chuckie Finster on Rugrats and supporting character/naked mole-rat Rufus on Kim Possible, but it’s very unlikely she’ll ever escape The Simpsons anymore. As Al Jean pointed out on a commentary for an episode of the show, it makes one of her earliest roles, a bit part in The Twilight Zonemovie, all the more appropriate: she played a woman who gets trapped in a cartoon world.

8. John DiMaggio

Modern cartoon fans know may know John DiMaggio best from Adventure Time as Jake the Dog, a transforming companion to the protagonist, Finn, who’s in his late twenties in “magical dog years.” His bits of down-to-earth philosophy, like “Sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something,” have certainly become widespread online. Others are likely to know him from the long running (as in, seven seasons with four movies) science fiction cartoon Futurama as the breakout character Bender, the lovable, emotionally vulnerable, drunken robot. More than a few may know him from the DC movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, where he did a very creepy rendition of the Joker. If we have any gamers in the audience, he was also Marcus Fenix through the Gears of War series.

Such is John DiMaggio’s commitment to his career that he wasn’t content with just starring in a number of popular cartoons. He also cowrote, coproduced, and narrated a 2013 documentary on voice acting called I Know that Voice, which includes interviews with numerous performers featured in this article. Anyone with any interest in the subject matter can’t afford to miss it.

7. Tara Strong

A generation of kids grew up hearing her as Timmy Turner on Fairly Odd Parents, which has been running for sixteen years. During that time she was also characters like the dark, serious teen Raven on Teen Titans, and protagonist Ben Tennyson onBen 10. For fans of more adult cartoons, there’re the years she spent as Princess Clara on the raunchy reality show parody Drawn Together. For those who like stuff that’s halfway between being mostly targeted to younger children and being sort of edgy and violent, there were the seven years she spent as the cute and cuddly Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls. She’s also voiced one of the most beloved Batman villains, Harley Quinn, in the Arkham video game series.

But undoubtedly her largest and most loyal following are fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, where she plays the bookish protagonist, Twilight Sparkle. Although she had no idea that she would get a bunch of adult fans from doing that particular show, she has decided to embrace this particular group, including in one on one, online chat sessions with people who’d been heavily bullied. Presumably, she didn’t feel any need to do that for her fans from Drawn Together.

 

6. Jim Cummings

How’s this for range: a guy who can voice both Winnie the Pooh and Goofy’s gruff nemesis/best friend Pete in numerous Disney cartoons. Although he was a supporting character in pretty much every Disney cartoon from the late ’80s through the ’90s, such as playing the tough mouse Monterey Jack on Rescue Rangers or the goofy wolf villain Don Karnage, he also got to play the titular character in several original cartoons. He was the bumbling but reliable Darkwing Duck, and the cat half of the rather nightmarish, but fun, CatDog by Nickelodeon.

For decades he was pretty much inescapable on televised cartoons, but eventually he found his way into theatrical animated films, sometimes in surprising ways. It’s probably not so surprising, after you’ve heard his gravely villainous voice, that he played several characters in Aladdin who were obsessed with cutting the hands off of thieves. But did you know that in The Lion King, he didn’t just play the insane hyena Ed, but got to sing a duet with Jeremy Irons? Okay, no, what happened was that Ironsblew out his voice during the epic villain song “Be Prepared” and Cummings had to step in and finish it for him. It’s a real testament to his skills as an impersonator that barely anyone noticed in the movie’s original run.

5.Tara Strong

For the past few decades, it seems like it’s been impossible for a cartoon to air on television without featuring Tress MacNeille in either a prominent recurring role, or even as the star. On The Simpsons alone she regularly plays Seymour Skinner’s mother, Crazy Cat Lady, Bart Simpson’s regular bullies Dolph and Jimbo Jones, and several others. On Matt Groening’s other cartoon, Futurama, she voiced fifteenrecurring characters, most notably Mom, the closest thing the show had to a villain. If your tastes are a bit more in favor of those early ’90s WB cartoons, she was Dot Warner, one of the three titular characters in Animaniacs. Not a bad career of voicing cartoons for someone who started out pursuing a gig as a DJ.

One of the more amusing aspects of MacNeille’s career was one of her late ’80s jobs. On the Disney program Rescue Rangers, featuring the classic chipmunk characters Chip and Dale, she voiced Chip. Oddly, she also voiced the main female character, Gadget Hackwrench, making it one of the few times the same actor has played both halves of a potential romantic pairing.

4. Troy Baker

This list has been more about cartoons than anything else so far, but we’re going to take a little break from that to focus on video games, which in market terms have of overtaken cartoons in prominence. As far as prominence within video game voice acting goes, you really can’t beat Troy Baker. This former lead singer for the band Tripp Fontaine, and former voice actor for anime dubs, has given highly acclaimed lead performances in some of the highest profile and most acclaimed games in recent memory. His performance as the befuddled man of action Booker DeWitt in the surreal 2013 science fiction game Bioshock Infinite was one of the best of the year. That was accompanied by his performance as the dispirited protagonist, Joel, in the survival game The Last of Us. Little wonder then that he was named one ofEntertainment Weekly’s breakout stars of 2013, and that was not the sort of honor they were likely to give to a video game voice actor. He earned it, too: his performance for The Last of Us alone took him 80 days to complete.

Since then, he’s had roles like the rather kooky villain, Pagan Min, in 2014’s Far Cry 4. But his main new, steady gig has been roles in superhero games. Since 2013, he has voiced Batman, multiple versions of Robin, and the Joker in various DC Arkham andInjustice games. He was Superman in the 2015 game Infinite Crisis. There’s even a fun little clip where he compared his version of the Joker’s laugh with the aforementionedJohn DiMaggio’s.

3. Frank Welker

All of the performers we’ve mentioned so far have been extremely good when it comes to playing human (or at least humanoid) characters. Frank Welker, however, is not bound by only voicing characters that can talk. Some of his best performances have been Apu the monkey and Rajah the tiger in Aladdin, since he was fully believable as animals instead of just a human imitating them. He was even convincing as the cricket character Cri-kee in Mulan. When it comes to characters that can talk, he has been Fred Jones in pretty much every version of Scooby-Doo since 1969 – even in parodies, such as the ones done on Family Guy. He was the voice of the villain Megatron from the 1980s cartoon Transformers and made enough of an impression on fans that, after Hugo Weaving played the character in the 2007 film, Hasbro still had him voice the character for the Transformers games to appease the fans.

In 2011, Welker received a rather backhanded honor. When you took all the movies where he voiced either a speaking character or a regular animal, his performances made him the most successful actor ever, with grosses above six billion dollars. That’s not even counting all the money that had been made from his hundreds of roles on television. But the Guardian article that reported that still called him, “the most successful Hollywood actor you’ve never heard of.” Still, by voice actor standards, that’s probably quite an achievement.

2. Billy West

General audiences were first introduced to Billy West on the Howard Stern for several years, starting in 1989 and ending in 1995. By the time he left that show, he’d landed new jobs voicing both the titular characters in the Nickelodeon cartoon Ren & Stimpy and on the show Doug. He became the new voice of many of the most prominent Looney Tunes characters, such as Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, including in the hit 1996 blockbuster Space Jam. He’s also the voice of the Cheerios bee in that company’s many, many commercials.

These days, he’s best known for starring in Futurama, along with John DiMaggio, in dozens of parts on the show. If you didn’t know better, you would never guess that protagonist Phillip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, and Dr. Zoidberg were all voiced by the same person (incidentally, his Fry voice is by far the closest to his real one).

1. Mel Blanc

As “The Man with a Thousand Voices,” Mel Blanc is the best known, most influential, and most respected of all voice actors. It was pretty much because of him that we know today who voice actors are for cartoons, instead of that being a secret (since studios like Warner Bros tried to suppress the names of voice actors in the hope of keeping their cartoons more believable). Since he was the original voice for Looney Toons characters ranging from Bugs Bunny to Tweety Bird to Elmer Fudd, he was able to get a screen credit. Of course, he wasn’t all that benevolent: he was the only onewho got a credit, and made sure of that.

In the ’60s, he was the original performer for numerous famous characters for Hanna-Barbera, such as Barney Rubble on The Flintstones and Cosmo Spacely on The Jetsons. These characters were so important to him that there’s a famous story saying that, after a horrible car wreck in 1961 left him in a semi-comatose state, the doctors were only able to get a response from him after a few weeks by addressing him as Bugs Bunny, prompting him to respond (while semi-conscious), “Myeeeeh. What’s up, Doc?”


Hollywood Voice Actors

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