THE INCREDIBLE MAGIC OF PAUL FREES (continued)

All this explains why Paul Frees chose a career as a voice-over actor, rather than as a movie star. Though he was only around 5'6", he had plenty of chances to act on- camera. He told me that he did at least ten movies, including A Place in the Sun, The Shaggy Dog and The Thing. Frees had some really good roles, in those movies, though some of them were bit parts. He also had a great screen presence, from my own point of view. In his taped letter, he told me, point blank, that he did not like on-camera acting. He seemed to echo June Foray's own words, to me, one year earlier, when she wrote that she could "make more money in less time".

Frees indicated that, in voice work, he could go into a studio, record and leave, in a relatively short period of time. In on-camera acting, he complained about how long and involved it was..........how one would have to wait forever, for lights to be adjusted just right..........or it might be necessary to stick around, for hours, to shoot a scene again and again. Clearly off-camera work suited his lifestyle better. He said that he reveled in wrapping the work up quickly, heading out, and then being on "his time" and focusing on other things, in life, which really mattered to him. He emphasized that this was his idea about what life should be all about.

I would be very careful, however, to call Paul lazy. Despite the fact that he truly cherished, and took advantage of, his free time, I heard his voice all over the place, throughout the 70s and beyond (I am referring to new shows, films, commercials, etc.).

I cherish many of the things that Paul Frees did, outside of Jay Ward Productions. I have already mentioned a few them, up to now. In the late 60s or early 70s, Paul did a record, for MGM, called Paul Frees and the Poster People. It was a very interesting concept. I am not sure how well it sold, however (as I said, his agent sent me a copy of this record for free). Paul sang a lot of the songs, which were hits in the 60s, in the voices of many of our late, great film stars: Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Ed Wynn, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, W.C. Fields, Bela Lugosi, Charlie Chan (Warner Olan) and Boris Karloff. In some cases he chanted, instead of singing.

He really did a wonderful job, on this album, and, of course, many of the songs were funny.......especially songs sung in Dracula's voice (or in a Karloff monster voice). For the record, he did a terrific Humphrey Bogart impersonation, singing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. Tears actually came to my eyes, for one of the songs, which was extremely touching and tender. He used Clark Gable's voice for the song, By the Time I Get to Phoenix. There was a parallel, in this song, between Rhett Butler leaving Scarlett O'Hara, and the character in the song, leaving a woman for good (and the woman, in the song, had never thought that he would).

Probably one of my favorite examples of the magic, that Paul Frees did, can be found in some of the wonderful holiday specials that he participated in. These were produced by the Rankin-Bass studio: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Frosty the Snowman, Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail and The Little Drummer Boy. In these specials, Paul did no narration; he did character voices only. I have many fond memories of all of these charming cartoon/claymation family specials........and Paul was a big part of these........

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