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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 11, 1956

Happy March eleventh, everybody!  It's hard to believe that in just a week and a half, Spring will finally be here.

(Seriously, in my neck of the woods, it truly is hard to believe.  We just got another snowfall a couple of days ago!  Enough with the snow, Mother Nature!  We're all sick of it!)

Okay, so anyway, today is March 11, and for today's blog topic, I've chosen a subject that many may not recognize by his face...but believe it or not, he's had a career that has spanned many decades.  And even though you might not know who he will for certain know him for the roles he played.

Ponder that for a moment as we take a look at some of the historical events that took place on this date...

222 - Emperor Elagabalus and his mother, Julia Soaemias are assassinated by the Praetorian Guard during a revolt in Italy

1702 - England's first national daily newspaper - "The Daily Courant" - is first published

1824 - The United States Department of War creates the Bureau of Indian Affairs

1851 - The first performance of "Rigoletto" by Giuseppe Verdi is held in Paris, France

1861 - The Constitution of the Confederate States of America is issued

1867 - Exactly sixteen years after debuting "Rigoletto", Verdi premieres "Don Carlos" in Paris

1888 - The Great Blizzard of 1888 strikes the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, which kills 400 people and grinds commerce to a halt

1903 - Bandleader and variety show host Lawrence Welk (d. 1992) is born in Strasburg, North Dakota

1927 - The Roxy Theatre in New York City is opened by Samuel Roxy Rothafel

1945 - The Imperial Japanese Army attempts a kamikaze attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet anchored at Ulithi atoll

1946 - Rudolf Hoss - the first commandant of Auschwitz - is captured by British troops

1983 - The nation of Pakistan successfully conducts a cold test of a nuclear weapon

1993 - Janet Reno is confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn in the following day as the first female Attorney General of the United States

2004 - Tragedy strikes Madrid, Spain as a series of simultaneous explosions rock the city's mass transit system, killing 191 people during rush hour

2009 - Sixteen people die and eleven more injured in the Winneden school shooting in Germany

2011 - A magnitude 9.0 earthquake strikes near Sendai, Japan, causing devastation to many Japanese communities and causes the second most devastating nuclear accident in history

And, celebrating a March 11 birthday are the following celebrities.  Happy birthday to Rupert Murdoch, Sam Donaldson, Joel Steiger, Bobby McFerrin, Susan Richardson, Jimmy Fortune, Curtis Brown, Cheryl Lynn, Elias Koteas, Jeffrey Nordling, Alex Kingston, Emma Chambers, Shane Richie, Jesse Jackson Jr., Wallace Langham, John Barrowman, Lisa Loeb, Terrence Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Benji and Joel Madden, Thora Birch, Lindsey McKeon, Melissa Rycroft, Anton Yelchin, and Demi Harman.

Okay.  Now for today's Tuesday Timeline date.  For some reason, I feel like going back to the 1950s for this one.

Like, maybe...March 11, 1956?  Sounds good?

Okay, so, as I was saying in the opening of this blog, today's subject is a man who happens to be celebrating a birthday today.  In this case, the birthday just happens to be number fifty-eight in a series of...well, who knows?  And, as I also stated, this man has had one heck of a career.  In fact, last year he celebrated thirty years in the business.  That's quite impressive, especially in a landscape where heavy emphasis is placed on reality television.

But here's the thing.  Would you recognize him if I posted a picture of him?  Here's his headshot below.

Okay, so I see some of you recognizing him right away (not really), and I see some of you trying to think about what television show or movie you might have seen him in (not really).  And, I am sure that many of you are wondering who this person could be.

Well, okay.  Let's play the name game.  What do all of these characters have in common?

Yakko Warner.  Raphael.  Steelbeak.  Pinky.  P.J.  Corky.  Donatello.

Well, obviously all of them happen to be cartoon characters from some of your favourite television shows.  Shows such as "Goof Troop", "Darkwing Duck", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", and "Animaniacs".  But here's the twist.  Did you know that all of the above characters were voiced by the same man?

And that the man who does the voices for all of these characters is the same one I featured in the picture above?

Well, this man has a name.  Rob Paulsen.  And, today happens to be the fifty-eighth anniversary of the day that Rob Paulsen was born!

Now, I'll be talking about some of the more memorable characters that he has voiced in his thirty plus years as a voice actor.  Believe it or not, there are more than seven.  Truth be told, in his entire career, he has voiced at least two hundred and fifty different characters in shows from "2 Stupid Dogs" to "Yo Yogi!" and everything in between!

However, it come as a surprise to you that voice acting was not Rob's first career choice.  Believe it or not, Rob's main goal in life was to play hockey professionally.  Had things gone his way, he very well could have found himself competing on the ice against Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, or Ray Bourque.  But somewhere along the way, his secondary love for the arts won out, and he opted to try and find work as an actor or singer (Paulsen sang in a children's choir growing up).

It did take a little bit of time and a lot of hard work, but Paulsen's persistence netted him his very first voice role in 1983's "G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero" as "Snow Job" and "Tripwire".  Little did he realize that this would be the beginning of what would become his life's work so far.

Now, certainly Rob didn't initially set out to do just voice roles.  He did do some work in live-action films as well, which included the movies "Eyes of Fire", "Body Double", "Stewardess School", and "Warlock".  It's okay if you haven't heard of any of these movies before.  They're largely forgettable B-movies from the 1980s.  And, Rob's film career lasted a total of three or four years before Rob decided to make the switch to solely voice acting.  It was a decision that Paulsen was influenced to make by his then toddler aged son.  Because the roles he played in some of the movies were quite R-rated, Paulsen explained that he would not want his son to watch them, so he couldn't really feel any sense of pride in the work that he did do...which I can completely understand.

So, this caused Rob Paulsen to focus on cartoons...which allowed him to take on roles that his son could watch.  Ultimately, it ended up being a good decision as he has had steady work since 1983! 

But, what are some of his most famous roles?  Well, obviously I can't talk about ALL of them...that would make this Tuesday Timeline the same length as an Agatha Christie novel!  But believe me when I say that this man has truly been a huge part of my childhood.  He was one constant in nearly every cartoon that I watched, and I just hope he knows just how many kids grew up with him entertaining them for over three decades, and just how grateful we all are to him for all the joy and fun he's brought to the world of animation.  Well done, good sir.

So, for the conclusion of this blog, and because it is his birthday, let's post some clips (if possible) of some of Rob's most memorable roles.

And, what better way to begin with the one television cartoon that I was obsessed with as a kid?

Now, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" was definitely a show that I was hooked on.  I watched the cartoon (and own the first two seasons on DVD), I watched the movie (which I also own on DVD for nostalgic purposes), I had the toys, read the comics, even illustrated a series of Ninja Turtle books for my third grade classroom (which I unfortunately do not have...wish I could have saved them so I could scan them...just to see how childish the artwork was). 

And one of the reasons why I loved the cartoon was because of the actors who were a part of the show.  Now, when the show first debuted in 1987, Rob Paulsen played Raphael for the first nine years of the cartoon (he took Season 10 off and was replaced by Michael Gough).  But Paulsen holds an interesting claim to fame because Raphael isn't the only Turtle he would play.

When the series was rebooted for Nickelodeon in 2012, Paulsen was hired to voice the role of Donatello, as Sean Astin had already been cast as Raphael.  And, admittedly, Paulsen was apprehensive about taking the role, as he didn't want to take over the role if Barry Gordon (the original Donatello) wanted it more.  But with Gordon's okay, Paulsen assumed the role of Donatello for the new series, making him the only voice actor to voice two different turtles for two different series.

Another show in which Paulsen shined was in the television cartoon "Animaniacs" where he voiced two main roles.  He was memorable enough as Dr. Scratchensniff, but perhaps his more memorable and hilarious role was that of Yakko Warner.  Why, just have a look at one of the clips that featured Yakko singing a song about all of the nations of the world?  I warn you...the map is slightly outdated.  It was filmed back in 1993, after all.

Okay, are you convinced of Rob Paulsen's genius now?  Stay tuned.  There's more!

One of the spinoff shows that stemmed from "Animaniacs" was the hugely popular "Pinky and The Brain".  Of course, we all know that Maurice LaMarche voiced the role of "The Brain".  But Paulsen was absolutely brilliant in the role of Pinky, the lovable, but as dumb as a brick of moldy cheese partner-in-crime of The Brain. 


And, who could forget all the minor roles he had over the years?  He was Marco Smurf on "The Smurfs".  He was Boober on the cartoon series of "Fraggle Rock".  He played Corky on "The Snorks", "Goof Troop"'s P.J., and villain Steelbeak on "Darkwing Duck".

And, that's not even counting the 1,000 television commercials he has made over the years, from when he was Mr. Opportunity... a singing Mini-Wheat... being in one of the most memorable "Got Milk" ads to ever air on television!

Is there anything this man CAN'T do?!?

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