Tracing the Tracks – Gummi Bears auditions part 1: Gruffi Gummi, Phase I

Phase I

Bill Boyet
Actor in many television shows from the 60’s-70’s-80’s. His voice acting credits are rare, but are featured throughout his career. Amoong them are parts in Hanna-Barbera’s Jane of the Jungle (1978) and as Ranger Jones in multiple Chucklewood Critters television movies.

Andy Morris
Started his career as a voice actor around the time that The Adventures of the Gummi Bears went into production. Although his credits are not many, he acted parts in Rugrats (2003), Avatar: The Last Airbender (2006) and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011).

Vic Perrin
Television actor who throughout his career would often provide voices for television shows. His best known work is as the narrator in the original run of The Outer Limits and as Dr. Zin in Jonny Quest (1965-1965), reprising that role for the 80’s reboot of the show.

André Stojka
Voice actor well known for his role as Owl in the Winnie the Pooh productions, taking over in 1994 from Hal Smith -who voiced the character ever since its debut in the Disney universe- after The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh). Other credits include Starlite, the horse in the Rainbow Brite (1984-1986) series and additional voices in multiple productions, among them Adventures of the Gummi Bears and Darkwing Duck for Disney television animation.

Jonathan Harris
Widely known for his role as Dr. Zachary Smith in the television series Lost In Space (1965-1968) and would often be typecast as the effeminate bad guy. Later in his life his career would shift more towards voice acting, providing voices for Pixar movies and television series. In Freakzoid (1996-1997) his character ‘Professor Jones’ would be close matched to his role as Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost In Space, while other characters would often ask him “Weren’t you on a TV show with a robot?”.

Don Messick
It’s tough to confine Don Messick’s career in just a few lines and although people won’t recognize him straight away as Fergus McDuck, Scrooge’s father, or the Mayor in Bonkers, Don’s has without a doubt made a big impression in television animation covering almost 40 years. Just to handpick a few of his mayor roles: Scooby and Scrappy Doo, Papa Smurf, Pebbles Flintstone and Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Boo Boo Bear and Ranger Smith, Muttley the dog, Dr. Benton Quest in both the 1964 and 1986 versions of Jonny Quest. One of his last performances for television was as Hampton J. Pig in Tiny Toon Adventures.

Jack Angel
Starting out as a disc jockey in 1957, Jack Angel decided early on to make a career in the radio industry. Within a decade, he became one of the more notable radio personalities with programs on two radio stations in Los Angeles. While he also was performing on stage with a few theater groups, it would take until the mid-1970’s before Jack Angel would perform as a voice actor for television series. Most famous for voicing The Flash, Hawkman and Samurai for The All-New Super Friends Hour (and the many Super Friends series that would follow), Wet Suit in G.I. Joe and The Liquidator in Darkwing Duck. Jack would often play additional parts and minor characters on television shows, but also in many feature films.

Chuck McCann
Television, film, stage and voice actor with a rich and diverse career. Starting his voice acting career in Cool McCool (1966), American audiences might be more familiar with his performance of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (“I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”) in the General Mills commercials. He would continue voicing additional roles in multiple shows and would become a regular cast member later on, voicing The Thing (and other roles) in Fantastic Four (1994-1996) and Blizzard in Iron Man (1994-1996) and Leatherneck in G.I. Joe (1986).

His credits in regards to Disney television animation encompass most of the first ten years of the division, providing voices for Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Duckworth and some of the Beagle Boys in Ducktales, Sugar Ray Lizzard in Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers, Heff Heffalump in The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dumptruck in TaleSpin and a small part in Bonkers.

 

Gummi Bears Callbacks (March 15th 1985)

Henry Corden
Starting his career on stage and radio, Henry Corden moved from New York to Los Angeles in the 1940’s to become an actor Hollywood productions. Being fluent in many dialects, his parts were usually minor and he would find more succes acting for television. Making the move to animation, he would often be used to portray brutish and gruff voices. His most famous role would be Fred Flintstone,a character he inherited in 1977 -after the passing of the characters original voice, Alan Reed- and which he would continue for over three decades in various revamped shows, specials and commercials.

Andre Stojka 1 (see Phase I)
Andre Stojka 2

Paul Winchell
The joy of not only having Muttley (Don Messick) to audition for this role, but also the voice of Dick Dastardly. Paul Winchell would not only end up winning the part of Zummi Gummi, but was also featured in The Smurfs (as Gargamel) during that time, which was at that time one of the biggest competitors for the Gummi Bears. Of course, Paul Winchell has his place in the Disney pantheon for his iconic portrayal of Tigger, starting from it’s first animated inception in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) until 1999. From the The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988-1991) on, he would share voicing Tigger with Jim Cummings.

Lennie Weinrib 1
Lennie Weinrib 2
Probably best known for his performances as H.R. Pufnstuf (1969-1970) and Gomez on Hanna Barbera’s Addams Family (1977), Lenny Weinrib enjoyed a career on live action television shows and other animated series. His credits include Hunk, Cliff, Rocky (and others) on Voltron: Defender of the Universe (1984-1985), Bigmouth on The Smurfs (1981-1984) and Scrappy-Doo in the original Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo television series. Although not getting the part of Gruffi Gummi, Lennie Weinrib did show up in the second season of the show as the evil wizzard Zorlock.

Gordon Jump
Although Gordon Jump didn’t do much voice acting in his career, with the exception of The Small One (1978) for Disney, he did have a succesful career on television. Next to many small parts and cameos on multiple shows, he played Arthur ‘Big Guy’ Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Steve Susskind
Although not widely known as a voice actor, Steve Susskind appeared in many small acting parts during the 80’s and 90’s. He voiced a few roles in feature films, like The Emperor’s New Groove, Monsters, Inc. and voiced a few minor characters in Ducktales and Batman: TAS. During research for the book, records were found that Steve Susskind also tried out for the parts of Moosel and Flizzard on the Wuzzles.

Bob Sarlatte
Comedian, Actor and sports announcer. Prior to his audition, Bob voiced Dirk The Daring in the Dragon’s Lair TV series and voices for The Kwicky Koala Show, by Tex Avery.

 

Gruffi’s lines:

Humph! “Try being friendly” they tell me. Fiddlesticks. makes people angry. Being friendly makes people angry.
You don’t believe me? Listen: Suppose I acted friendly and celebrated Michaelmas Eve (which I don’t). So instead of sitting alone in my room with the door locked, I end up going out to dinner someplace. Then later we’d hafta pass presents out — and that costs money.
Ok, now suppose someone stopped by my room while I was out being friendly. they’d knock, no one would answer, they’d go away angry.
So what’s the difference? They’re gonna be angry if I’m locked in my room or not. So why not be unfriendly? Same results, only cheaper!

Tracing the Tracks – Gummi Bears auditions

When Disney set out to start their own television animation division, they began working on two shows: Wuzzles, which was to have the full attention of the staff (that only counted a handful of people back then), and Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears. During the first months it already became clear that Wuzzles would be a tougher nut to crack for multiple reasons, so what was then considered to be the B show did not only catch up in development, but also started to lead the race to get two shows on the air within the time span of eleven months.

While the production of Gummi Bears started to take the lead, more people would be hired and auditions would be held to find the right voices for the parts. In the later stages of development, Wuzzles would catch up in the casting phase, but would fall behind again during production. In the early days, Disney Television Animation (DTA) did not have their own casting services, so they brought in Bob Lloyd, owner of Voicecaster. Bob worked with Michael Webster (former Vice President of Television Animation) and Tom Ruzicka before they were employed at Disney.

In this series of blog posts, we’ll feature the auditions for Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears from recently discovered tapes. The posts will feature two parts each, unless otherwise stated and will showcase one character each week.

Darkwing “Double-O” Duck (part 2)

A few days ago I posted the original memo for the search for a new name for Double-O Duck. This is what I wrote:

While most Disney Television Animation (DTA) shows have a rich development history, one of the most talked ‘famous moments in DTA history’ is without a doubt the development of Darkwing Duck and his earlier incarnation as Double-O Duck. While this topic has been discussed before online in multiple fan fora and blogs, it still speaks to the imagination on how Darkwing finally got his name.

…and what the alternatives might have been!

Fans of the show might already know who won the contest, but for just to make sure:

OODPage1 OODPage2 OODPage3 OODPage4