Since the earliest Christmas I can remember, I have been disturbed by the suspicious resemblance between Heat Miser in The Year without a Santa Claus, and Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I thought this was some straightforward shadiness on the part of Rankin/Bass, the production company behind the stop-motion holiday shows; sort of a meta-deception behind the puppetry evil. I started poking around in the Bugermeister's background and came across the career of a remarkable actor, as well as a chain of connected childhood flashbacks.
Burgermeister Meisterburger was voiced by Paul Frees. WikiPedia says, "like Mel Blanc, he was known in the industry as 'The Man of a Thousand Voices'". As I scanned the list of his credits, I nearly fell out of my chair. He had voiced, in an uncredited role, Colossus himself in Colossus: The Forbin Project.
Colossus is one of the most overlooked sci-fi classics. Produced prior to 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was considered too depressing to release by studio execs, and shelved until HAL grabbed the insane killer computer first-mover advantage.
Ship early, ship often.
He also voiced K.A.R.R., the evil twin to David Hasselhoff's good-robot car K.I.T.T. in an episode of Knight Rider.
Back in August when John Mark Karr "confessed" to killing JonBenet Ramsey I notice that the AdSense on Topix.net when I searched for "Karr" was all about Knight Rider ring tones and David Hasselhoff. After some searching I discovered that KARR was the evil twin of KITT (the true star of Knight Rider). So either AdSense buyers are very thorough or Google keyword targeting is very advanced. Time for Turbo-Boost.
But that's not all.
Frees also voiced the original Star Wars trailer. Bob says
I was intrigued by this man's ability to be the voice of authority. His voice is so strong and commanding that people would bring him in to lend credibility to the worst examples of writing.
This trailer has the worst copywriting I've ever heard. "It's the story of a boy, a girl, and a universe." "A million years in the making, and it's coming to your theater this summer." and, my favorite, "Somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now."
He sounded a lot like the "Ghost Host" from the Haunted mansion. When I listen to it, I can almost remember some voiceovers for ads as well...maybe Levi's jeans? I'm sure he did a lot of ads, too bad there isn't a site for discovering these.
I remember that Levi's ad! It was on Bob Abel's demo tape. I can remember the voiceover, it did sound just like the star wars trailer voice. Same time period too...could very well have been Frees. Bob Abel did some amazing graphics stuff, including Sexy Robot, which was a superbowl ad for ... cans. As in, paid for by a canned-food industry association. Crazy.
Those graphics look primitive now. When I saw them in 1986 they were still eye-popping. I think Able had something to do with Tron too. Tron never looked good, unfortunately, not even when it first came out.
Paul Frees did the voice-over for your childhood
If you grew up in the 70's, this guy's voice was the secret ingredient in your childhood. Your alter-parent from the TV. The voice behind your personal voice-over track. Buy this. Watch this now. I command you. Just like Colossus. The voice of the commercial state, just like 1984 but instead of run by the govt it's run by cereal companies.
I got so distracted with Frees that I never followed up on the Heat Miser. Will have to save that for next Christmas Eve's post.
:-) Merry Christmas!