name = Paul Frees
imagesize = 300px
caption = Frees in a rare onscreen appearance in "
The 27th Day" (1957)
birthdate = birth date|1920|6|22|mf=y
deathdate = death date and age|1986|11|2|1920|6|22|mf=y
birthname = Solomon Hersh Frees
notable role = Boris Badenov, Ludwig Von Drake and many more
Paul Frees (
June 22, 1920- November 2, 1986) was an American voice actorand character actor.
Born Solomon Hersh Frees in
Chicago, he began his acting career in 1942, and remained active for over forty years. During this time, he was involved in more than 250 films, cartoons, and TV appearances; like many voice actors, his appearances were often uncredited.
Frees' early radio career was cut short when he was drafted into
World War IIwhere he was at Normandyon D-Day. He was wounded in action and was returned to the United Statesfor a year of recuperation. He attended the Chouinard Art Instituteunder the G.I. Bill. His first wife's failing health forced him to drop out and return to radio work. He appeared frequently on such Hollywoodradio series, including "Escape", playing lead roles and alternating with William Conradas the opening voice, " Suspense" as the opening announcer in the late 1940s, and parts on " Gunsmoke" and " Crime Classics". One of his few starring roles in this medium was as Jethro Dumont in the 1949 series " The Green Lama", as well as a syndicated anthology series "The Player", in which Frees narrated and played all of the parts.
Frees was often called upon in the 1950s and 1960s to "re-loop" the dialogue of other actors, often to correct for foreign accents, lack of English proficiency, or poor line readings by non-professionals. These dubs extended from a few lines to entire roles. This can be noticed rather clearly in the film "Midway" where Frees reads for
Toshiro Mifune's performance as Admiral Yamamoto. Frees also dubbed the entire role of Eddie in the Disney film " The Ugly Dachshund", replacing actor Dick Wessel, who had died of a sudden heart attack after completion of principal photography.
Unlike many voice actors who did most of their work for one studio, Frees spent much of his career working with at least nine of the major animation production companies of the 20th century: Walt Disney Studios,
Walter Lantz Studios, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, MGM Studios, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Jay Ward Productionsand Rankin/Bass.
Frees was active until his sudden death at 66 from
heart failureon November 2, 1986. He was living in Tiburon, Californiaat the time.
There had been homages to him done by voice actor
Corey Burtonwho happened to have matched the voices he used for some characters.
Some of Paul Frees' most memorable voices were for various Disney projects. Frees voiced Disney's Professor
Ludwig Von Drakein eighteen episodes of the Disney anthology television series, [cite book
last = Smith
first = Dave
authorlink = Save Smitn
title = The Updated Official Encyclopedia: Disney A to Z
date = 1998
location = New York
pages = 337
id = ISBN 0-7868-6391-9] beginning with the first episode of the newly-renamed "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" on
September 24, 1961. The character also appeared on many Disneyland Records. Von Drake's introductory cartoon, " An Adventure in Color", featured " The Spectrum Song", sung by Frees as Von Drake. A different Frees recording of this song appeared on a children's record, and was later reissued on CD.cite book
last = Fisher
first = David J.
authorlink = David J. Fisher
title = The Music of Disney: A Legacy in Song Collector's Book
Walt Disney Records
date = 1992
pages = 28, 48
id = ISBN 0-7868-6359-5]
Frees narrated a number of Disney cartoons, including the Disney educational short film "
Donald in Mathmagic Land". This short originally aired in the same television episode as Von Drake's first appearance.
Frees also provided voices for numerous characters at Disney parks, including the unseen "Ghost Host" in the
Haunted Mansionattraction at Disneylandand Walt Disney World, and several audio-animatronic pirates, including the Auctioneer, in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Disney eventually issued limited edition compact discs commemorating the two rides, featuring outtakes and unused audio tracks by Frees and others. Frees also provided narration for the Tomorrowland attraction Adventure Thru Innerspace(1967-1985). Audio clips from the attractions in Frees' distinctive voice have even appeared in fireworks shows at Disneyland. A computer-animated singing bust in Frees' likeness appeared in the 2003 film "The Haunted Mansion" as an homage. Similarly, audio recordings of Frees from the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction can be heard in "" in a homage to the ride. Frees also had a small live action role for Disney in the 1959 film "The Shaggy Dog", playing Dr. Galvin, a military psychiatrist who attempts to understand why Mr. Daniels believes a shaggy dog can uncover a spy ring.
His other Disney credits, most of them narration for segments of the
Disney anthology television series, include the following:
* The "
Man in Space" series of shows (TV, 1954)
From Aesop to Hans Christian Andersen" (TV, 1955)
The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca" (TV miniseries, 1958)
Tales of Texas John Slaughter" (TV miniseries, 1958)
* "The Shaggy Dog" (film, 1959)
The Absent-Minded Professor" (film, 1961)
Moochie of Pop Warner Football" (TV, 1960)
The Monkey's Uncle" (film, 1965)
For his contributions to the Disney legacy, Frees was honored posthumously as a Disney Legend on
October 9, 2006.cite news
title = Sir Elton John, Joe Ranft Headline Disney Legends Award
work = AWN Headline News
date = 2006-10-09
url = http://news.awn.com/index.php?ltype=top&newsitem_no=18127
accessdate = 2007-11-04]
Jay Ward Productions
Frees was a regular presence in
Jay Wardcartoons, providing the voices of Boris Badenov, Inspector Fenwick (from " Dudley Do-Right)," Ape in " George of the Jungle" and the " Hoppity Hooper" narrator, among numerous others.
Frees is well-remembered for many characters in Rankin/Bass cartoons and
stop-motionanimated TV specials, including the central villain Burgermeister Meisterburgerand his assistant Grimsby in "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" (1970). He was also the traffic cop, ticket-taker, and Santa Clausin " Frosty the Snowman" in 1969. He was several voices, including Eon the Terrible, in " Rudolph's Shiny New Year" in 1976. In 1968, he appeared as Captain Jones in the Thanksgiving special " The Mouse On The Mayflower", and that Christmas he appeared as the father of the Drummer Boy, Ali, and as the three Wise Men in " The Little Drummer Boy." He provided the voices for several J. R. R. Tolkiencharacters (most notably the dwarf Bombur) in Rankin/Bass animated versions of "The Hobbit" and "The Return of the King". He also voiced King Haggard's wizard Mabruk in "The Last Unicorn" and provided several voices for the Jackson Five cartoon series between 1971 and 1973.
Other voice work
Some of Paul's earliest work was voicing many characters in
Tex Avery's shorts for MGM Studios such as the recurring wolf character who was previously voiced by Frank Graham, the cat in The Cat Who Hated People, and the mouse in King Size Canary.
Frees voiced all characters, except the lead role, in the US versions of Belvision's "
The Adventures of Tintin" cartoons, based on the books by Hergé. In the 1956 Cinemascope Tom and Jerry (MGM)cartoon, Blue Cat Blues, he was Jerry's voice who narrated the short, he had also voiced Jerry's cousin Muscles in Jerry's Cousinfive years earlier.
For the 1962
Christmas special"Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol", produced by UPA, Paul Frees voiced several characters, including Fezziwig, the Charity Man, two of the opportunists who steal from the dead man (Eyepatch Man and Tall Tophat Man)cite web
last = Howe
first = Tom
title = Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and Scrooge
work = Featured CED VideoDisc No. 26 - Fall 2002
publisher = CED Magic
date = 2002
url = http://www.cedmagic.com/featured/christmas-carol/christmas-carol.html
accessdate = 2006-12-25] and
Mister Magoo's Broadway theatredirector. He subsequently provided numerous voices for further cartoons in the series that followed, " The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo".
Frees provided the voices of both
John Lennonand George Harrisonin the 1965 "The Beatles" cartoon series, and of The Thing in the 1967 series "Fantastic Four". He played several roles--narrator, Chief of State, the judges and the bailiff--in the George Lucas/ John Kortyanimated film, "Twice Upon a Time".
commercials, he was the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy, the 7-Upbird Fresh-Up Freddie, Froot Loopsspokesbird Toucan Sam(previously voiced by Mel Blanc, later voiced by Maurice LaMarche), and the Little Green Sprout, who called out to the Jolly Green Giant, "Hey, Green Giant, what's new besides ho-ho-ho?"
Frees narrated many live action movies and television series, including "Naked City" (1958-1963). Frees also provided the voice of the eccentric billionaire
John Beresford Tipton, always seated in his chair with his back to the viewer while talking to his employee Michael Anthony (fellow voice-artist Marvin Miller), on the dramatic series " The Millionaire".
He dubbed many Italian actors in
Spaghetti Westerns, most notably Gian Maria Volonte's characters in " A Fistful of Dollars" and " For a Few Dollars More", the alcoholic Union captain (portrayed by Italian actor Aldo Giuffrè) in " The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", and Gabriele Ferzetti's Mr. Morton character in " Once Upon a Time in the West".
Frees had a wide range of other roles, usually heard but not seen, and frequently without screen credit. The resonance of his natural voice was similar to that of
Orson Welles, and he performed a Welles impression several times. Some highlights of his voice work are as follows:
* The narrator of the documentary about J. Robert Oppenheimer,
The Day After Trinity
Peter Lorrevoice in the Spike Jonesversion of the song " My Old Flame". When talking softly, the voice sounds much like Lorre. When the character segués into a manic rant for a few lines, the voice anticipates the Ludwig von Drake characterization.
Orson Wellessoundalike narrator in " Stan FrebergPresents The United States of America Vol. 1". When Vol. 2 came out after his death, he was replaced by Corey Burton.
*Another Orson Welles sound-alike as the voice of the aliens in "
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers"
*Yet again, as an Orson Welles soundalike narrator in the 1967 film "The St. Valentines Day Massacre".
*The uncredited voice of the sentient
supercomputerColossus in the movie "".
*Narrator of the pre-show for
Great Moments with Mr. Lincolnat the Illinois Pavilion of the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. The exhibit was produced by Disney, and later moved to Disneyland.
*The shrouded figure of "Death" (another near-Welles characterization) in the
Woody Allenmovie " Love and Death".
*The narration for the spoof short film "
Hardware Wars" (1977), which was styled as a mock movie trailer.
*Voice of KARR in "K.I.T.T. vs. K.A.R.R." - a 3rd season episode of
*Voice of "Josephine" (the female persona of
Tony Curtis' character Joe) in the Billy Wilderfilm " Some Like it Hot". [cite web
last = Erickson
first = Glenn
title = Some Like It Hot and the Legendary Paul Frees
work = DVD Savant
publisher = Kleinman.com Inc.
date = 1999
url = http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s74frees.html
accessdate = 2006-12-25]
*The voice of Dr. Who in the English language version of "King Kong Escapes".
*The voices of "Antoine" and "Alecto" in the English language version of "Atoll K" (aka "Utopia").
*The voice of the hermit crab "Crusty" in "
The Incredible Mr. Limpet", a Warner Brothersfeature that mixed live action with animation.
*Intro voice for "Bradbury 13," a series of thirteen radio dramas featuring Ray Bradbury short stories, originally produced for National Public Radio by Michael McDonough at Brigham Young University, 1984.
*Credited with singing "Dark Town Strutters Ball" in the 1971 film "The Abominable Dr. Phibes".
Although Frees is primarily known for his voice work (like
Mel Blanc, he was known in the industry as "The Man of a Thousand Voices"), he was also a songwriter and screenwriter, his major work being the little-seen 1960 film "The Beatniks", a " Reefer Madness"-esque screed against the then-rising Beatnik counterculture. In 1992, the film was "riffed" on an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
On rare occasions, Frees appeared on camera in minor roles. He played a scientist in "
The Thing from Another World", a death-row priest in " A Place In The Sun", and French fur trader McMasters in " The Big Sky". In "Jet Pilot," Frees plays a menacing Soviet officer whose job is to watchdog pilot Janet Leigh, but instead manages to eject himself out of a parked jet, enabling Leigh to rescue John Wayneand fly back to the West. He also had an uncredited role as a war correspondent interviewing George C. Scott as "Patton" and also as a member of Patton's staff.
More significantly, he played the
Orson Wellessoundalike radio reporter in "The War of the Worlds", where he is seen dictating into a tape recorder as the military prepares the atomic bombfor use against the invading Martians. Memorably, Frees' character says that the recording is being made for "future history...if any." "The War of the Worlds" producer George Pálput Frees to work again in the 1960 fantasy film " Atlantis, the Lost Continent" and doing the opening voice-overnarration for his 1975 " Doc Savage" film. Frees provided the apocalyptic voices of the "talking rings" in George Pál's 1960 film "The Time Machine," in which he explains the ultimate fate of humanity and the origin of the Morlocks and Eloi.
*Battistini, Pete, "American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970s)." Authorhouse.com, January 31, 2005. ISBN 1-4184-1070-5. Includes information and photograph of the MGM Records LP "Paul Frees and the Poster People."
*Frees, Paul, "The Writings of Paul Frees." (2004) (Albany: BearManor Media) ISBN 1-59393-011-9
*Ohmart, Ben. "Welcome ... Foolish Mortals - The Life & Voices of Paul Frees." (2004) (Albany: BearManor Media) ISBN 1-59393-004-6. Filled with rare photos & interviews.
* [http://www.what-a-character.com/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=983885437 What a Character! page on Paul Frees]
* [http://www.voicechasers.com/database/showactor.php?actorid=1248 Voice Chasers "voiceography"]
* [http://legends.disney.go.com/legends/detail?key=Paul+Frees Disney Legends profile]
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