April 13, 2003

John Stephenson

this is a departure from my usual talk about Daws Butler or Mel Blanc but ii was wanting to know the low-down on John Stephenson. when was he born? John's biggest role is Mr. Slate on "The Flintstones" and that voice is used on countless other characters. John's other voice that gets some mileage is his high-pitched Joe Flynn type {think Mr. Peevly of "The Hair Bair Bunch" or "Mildew Wolf", which was actually a cross between Joe Flynn and Paul Lynde}. i know that John also voiced numerous roles on Hanna-Barbera's made for TV cartoons {on "Squiddley Diddley" John is heard as Mr. Winchley and he typically lent his voice as the Sheriff on the "Scooby-Doo" shows warning the cast to "stay out of trouble and leave the crime-solving to the police..."}. another John Stephenson voice is Dred Baron, a clone of Dick Dastardly; the Great Fondoo is John's imitation of Bela Lugosi's Dracula voice. John also voiced Dr. Benton Quest before Don Messick took over. well, anyway, i was wanting to know when he was born and was he on "Fraggle Rock" as the human scientist named Doc? i have a TV book that claims that John played the Doc and was the only human on the "Fraggle Rock". one book says John Stephenson plays Doc while another says a man named Gerry Parks played him?

Interestingly enough, I sent Greg Jones, our web guy, a photo of John Stephenson, which he thought was interesting. I actually sent that picture to Greg, at the same time that I sent him a photo of Jackson Beck, the man who did the voice of Brutus (or Bluto) on Popeye (he'll be 91 years old, this year, by the way; still alive and kicking). I know another site where you can see a photo of John. Our our "Links" feature, click on the Hans Conried web site. Somewhere on that site is a picture of John Stephenson posing with his other cast members from "The Hobbit" cartoon special.

Actually that question you ask, about when Johnn Stephenson was born, is the $64,000 question (or maybe the $640,000 question with today's inflation!!). If you go to John Stephenson's IMDb filmography site you will find nothing about his date of birth. I also went to "Voice Chasers" and found nothing. I did a general search and found nothing too. Then, when I was briefly a member of the Voice Actor Appreciation yahoo email group, I asked someone there, whom I thought would be "in the know" about how old he was. He told me he'd get back to me about it, but he never did.

He's got to be really old, because I saw him on a re-run of the Perry Mason show (shot in the early 60s), and he looked like he was about 50 years old then. I also saw him in an Alfred Hitchcock movie called Topaz (shot in the late 60s) and he looked like he was definitely in his 50s then also. If you ever rent Topaz, you won't see his name in the credits. But if you go to his IMDb filmography, you will see that he was in the movie, but uncredited. He even spoke a few lines, and they still did not credit him.

I also heard him on some radio episodes from the Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show. One of our readers sent me a collection of Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show episodes on CD-ROM. That show goes back to around the late 40s to the mid 50s. When I heard John's voice on those shows, he sounded like a middle-aged man, EVEN THAT LONG AGO.

I'm sure you probably also know that he was the guy, on the Dragnet TV series, who would always read the sentence, that the crooks who were caught, had to serve.

I have heard his voice on countless radio commercials, even as recently as the late 90s. I haven't heard him lately, but I would imagine he's still working. "Mr. Slate" from the Flintstones, always shines through, when I hear him do his radio spots. When I think of how very old, he must be, I can't believe that he is still active, after all these years. I often thought the same thing of Jackson Beck, who also has done countless radio/TV commercials in recent years (again, Brutus/Bluto from Popeye). Most entertainers, who were WELL INTO MIDDLE AGE, back around 1960, are long dead.

John Stephenson was also supposedly in the live action movie, The Flintstones, Viva Rock Vegas, as a show room announcer at the end of the movie. That came out in 2000. I don't think that the show room announcer is him though; I think that John dubbed his voice into the mouth of that man. The show room announcer is a bit overweight. I have never seen a single picture of John, where he wasn't extremely thin (and this is over several decades, mind you). The show room announcer also did not look like John, at all, in the face.

Brian