Paul Frees tape cover
Paul Frees tape cover from 1974

He skillfully narrated In Cold Blood (the movie version of Truman Capote's book). He did a spot for a TV commercial, plugging a magazine called Man, Myth and Magic. Though only a short commercial, and related to a topic that I usually avoid (the Occult), his voice contributed so much style, class and beauty to that mysterious, forbidden magazine, that I daresay that that was my favorite commercial that he ever did. The fact that I even recall that commercial twenty to twenty-five years later, is a testament to the objet d'art that it was. That thirty to sixty-second commercial sent a "healthy chill up my spine", in the way that some Alfred Hitchcock movies do. I also remember the sound of a strong wind, intervening during the course of his words, about Man, Myth and Magic.

There were also countless times that I heard his voice in other non-animated ventures. I turned on one of my favorite sitcoms, in the early to mid 70s, and heard his voice being used, throughout that whole show, as a radio announcer. I watched a TV movie, from around that same era, with Connie Stevens, in which she was talking to her therapist, who was a voice on the guessed it!.........Paul Frees! It seemed that every single time, I turned around, someone in Hollywood, was using his voice.........for both serious and comic endeavors. Paul Frees' agent had sent me, free of charge, a record, that his client had recorded for MGM, called Paul Frees and the Poster People (more about this later). On the back of its jacket, it mentioned that his voice was used more than any other living person, for entertainment purposes. I don't doubt that for a second!

With all these things being said, I will say that, two of Paul's character voices, were absolutely ingenious and near the very top of my favorite cartoons voices!! Frees did an imitation of Ed Wynn, which was used for two of Jay Ward's cartoon characters: Captain Peachfuzz, from the Rocky and Bullwinkle shows and Fred the Lion, from Super Chicken. Should you not know who Ed Wynn is, rent the Disney movie, Mary Poppins, and look for the older gentleman who sang the song I Love to Laugh. That was Ed Wynn. He had a kind of goofy, crackly voice.

I also loved Frees' imitation of Sydney Greenstreet (rent the movies The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca, and look for "the Fat Man", as he was known. He had a gravely voice and peculiar, funny giggle). Paul Frees used Sydney Greenstreet as the voice of one of the villains, on Hanna-Barbera's Secret Squirrel cartoon series: Yellow Pinky.

My own yardstick for truly great cartoon voices (and one of the reasons why I am not as impressed with Frees' characterizations, as I am with Daws Butler or June Foray), is if the voice actor has at least some voices, which have scarcely a trace of his/her natural voice (I would say that Frees' Ed Wynn voice, was his only voice, which did not betray his hidden identity).

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