Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Actors with Great Voices

Sometimes there are actors out there whose primary charms--their gravitas, charisma, carriage, what have you--are personified by their voices. That doesn't mean their voices have to be their only talent, only that it's an important ingredient in an already wonderful actor-y stew. Here are some of my faves in the vocal dee-partment:

Christopher Lee
I think I've gone over this one, haven't I? Let's just allow his King Haggard to speak for himself.

Ronald Colman
He possesses the quintessential uppercrust British accent, all sexy and suave. Here's a link to his appearances on the Jack Benny radio program, where he's the perfect Wilson to Benny's Dennis.

George Sanders
Combines Colman's aristocratic suavity with Lee's commanding basso profund...ity? Anyways, hot. Could anyone else voice a tiger so realistically (and strangely sexily? Don't judge me I'm not a furry!!)?

Maximilian Schell
The Grim Reaper in vocal form. Absolutely chilling, yet engrossing.

I've never seen this, but it looks super depressing. You're welcome!

Leonard Nimoy
No, I'm not going to post "Bilbo Baggins!" Just this weirdness:

George Takei's voice ain't bad, either, and can be really funny, too.

He's also very fun to imitate. Go ahead, give it a shot!

Dan Castellaneta (I've come to terms with the fact I'll never be able to spell his surname without looking it up first)

Of course everyone in The Simpons cast has an amazing set o'pipes, but Castellaneta (yup, had to look) gets the most props because his natural voice sounds nothing like Homer's--in fact, the exact opposite: sorta high-pitched, actually.

Margaret Sullavan
"Strange, fey, mysterious--like a voice singing in the snow."
--Louise Brooks

Lauren Bacall
There's something very comforting and down-to-earth about her husky voice. There's a scene in The Big Sleep where tension is high, and Bogie is alone in his office, and we're all a little scared for him. Then he calls Baby on the phone and we hear her say "Hello?" And suddenly the world's a better, sultrier place.

This isn't the scene, but it's still a classic, and still has to do with a phone:

Gracie Allen
"The moment I heard her voice I figured she had to be a dancer. She sounded like the bird who had been thrown out of the nest for singing off-key. In fact, it turned out to be a perfect voice. It had no lows, so it projected beautifully in a theater. Gracie never had to yell to be heard, her voice just cut through everything else. And years later, when she started singing on the radio, it turned out she had a lovely singing voice. Like Gracie herself, her voice was unforgettable."
--George Burns

Tuesday Weld
And just like this actress, Tuesday's voice was bubbly, garrulous, and slightly deranged. Adorable.

It might not have translated the best to singing, but I still can't help but dig her shot at a single in 1960. Still got plenty of personality:

Stuck in your head yet? Excellent.

Kathryn Leigh Scott
Having played the bulk of the female leads, such as Maggie Evans, Josette, and all of Josette's various incarnations, Scott was arguably the most charming actress on Dark Shadows. I think her cheerful, lively voice has a lot to do with that. It's very versatile, too.

This video's pretty long and contains one of them sweeping, dramatic, climactic spoiler moments. Hey, look, it's in the title! Sorry, but anyone who knows anything about Dark Shadows should already know about this twist. In case you don't want to watch the whole thing you can just listen a few seconds, and you can hear her disembodied voice...or is it really hers?!

Michelle Pfeiffer
Similar to Bacall, Pfeiffer's got the pefect wry, femme fatale vibe going on with her voice. But where she lacks Bacall's comforting tones, she makes up for it in quirkiness and electricity. And like Weld, Pfeiffer loses none of her cheek when she belts one:

Arleen Sorkin
Modern day Lina Lamont, only not as grating and with an extra dash of insanity.

Tara Strong
She's basically in every cartoon show ever. Her voice is probably less distinctive than Sorkin's, but I'd argue she's more versatile because of it. In fact, she can even do a pretty mean Harley herself, as evidenced in this trailer for the upcoming Arkham City video game.

Vid is super loud, sorry.

And of course, while we're on the subject, Mark Hamill. You already heard his Joker above, but...heck, why not another dose?

So, who am I forgetting? There are many. I've left out obvious contenders like James Earl Jones, Orson Welles, and Sean Connery. But who else?

Note to the internet: seriously, guys, why you gotta disable so much embedding code? Can't we all be friends?


  1. I love everyone on this list. I'm also really fond of James Mason and Alan Arkin's voices. Oh and Karen Morley; she has a great gurgly voice.

  2. Yes, James Mason! Another quintessential British accent that turns up the suavity to eleven. He reminds me of yet another great voice artist, Kelsey Grammar, who does a killer Mason impression.

  3. I'm partial to Joan Greenwood, myself. Especially in Kind Hearts and Coronets.

    Christopher Lee keeps coming up. I think you might have a crush.

  4. What slanderous lies you spread, Vulnavia! Sir Chris and I are distant acquaintances, merely. >Adjusts scarf to cover more of my neck, whilst quivering nervously as you start dangling a crucifix suspiciously to and fro in front of my face.<

    Joan Greenwood's voice is how I picture most cats would sound if they could speak.

  5. Not a furry? The blogger doth protest too much, methinks.

    You love it when your horrible sister comments on your blog, right?

  6. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE WOMAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN CALLING HERSELF CAVILING. My crush on Shere Khan is a singular case! A singular case!!

  7. Glad you mentioned Margaret Sullavan here, and I LOVE that quote by Louise Brooks. How perfect. Jean Arthur is another one who comes to mind, and whose tinkle-twinkle, lullaby-like vocals have garnered equally creative quotes. If only I could remember them now.