As you may have already heard, the industry has said goodbye to another legend. Mr. John Stephenson passed away this past Friday, May 15th. Joe fans will recognize him as the voice of General Hawk, but he’s voiced so many more beloved characters that you may be familiar with. News From Me has put together a write up that I’d like to share with you below –
Voice actor John Stephenson died Friday night at the age of 91. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for some time and living in a nursing home. Several years ago, reports of his declining health somehow led to a series of erroneous Internet reports that he had passed. This time, sadly, it’s so.
Stephenson’s long, prolific career began in 1948 when he moved to Hollywood from his native Wisconsin. He quickly became a working actor on radio dramas and began landing roles in film and on television. In fact, it would be hard to find a TV show filmed in Hollywood between 1953 and about 1968 that he didn’t guest on. You can catch him on reruns of The Lone Ranger, The Beverly Hillbillies, F Troop, Get Smart, Green Acres, Hogan’s Heroes, Perry Mason, That Girl, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The People’s Choice, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and so many more. In the sixties though, he was getting so much work in voiceovers that he abandoned his “on camera” career.
He did hundreds of commercials and announcing jobs. His was the voice that announced the verdicts at the end of the sixties’ Dragnet series. And he worked incessantly in cartoons, mainly for Hanna-Barbera. He was heard often on the original Flintstones series, voicing Fred’s boss Mr. Slate and dozens of supporting characters. On the series Top Cat, he spoke for the character Fancy-Fancy and, again, dozens of supporting characters. On Jonny Quest, he was Dr. Benton Quest. On other H-B shows, he played recurring and guest roles to the extent that he may have been the most-heard actor on their shows. Joe Barbera loved him and the feeling was mutual. (I took the above photo of him at a party for Mr. Barbera.)
The Internet Movie Database lists 232 credits for him as both an on-camera and voiceover actor. I would bet that’s less than a tenth of all he did. John was heard on many of the shows I worked on for H-B but I only met him briefly a few times. He was efficient and professional and a very good actor, much respected by his peers. We will all miss him but we will continue to hear him.
The cartoon industry just lost an absolute legend. Rest in peace, John Stephenson!