If you truly love animation, then there is some joy in hearing the same voices over and over again. I did an entire article once on voices that would surprise you in animation for another website. You will have moments like “Hey, isn’t Starscream and Cobra Commander the same guy?” Yes, yes it was. If you want to get technical, It was Christopher Charles Collins also known as Chris Latta. However, there are also voices that you only seem to hear once. Later on, you realize that you were right and that is pretty special too. Here are a few….
Mary Elizabeth Hartman: Elizabeth Hartman was a talented but troubled actress from Youngstown, Ohio. After critically acclaimed appearances in movies like Walking Tall and A Patch of Blue, Hartman starred in exactly one animated film. Hartman was the distinctive voice of Mrs. Brisby in Don Bluth’s classic The Secret of NIMH. NIMH was released in 1982. Hartman fell into a case of depression and left the entertainment industry altogether. Her marriage fell apart and she relocated to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. In later years, Hartman worked for a museum and kept up counseling for depressive behavior. In 1987, Hartman fell from a fifth story window which many feel to have been a suicide. This would cement Mrs. Brisby as Hartman’s only albeit very memorable role in animation.
Adriana Caselotti: Even though operatic singer Adriana Caselotti was only paid 970 for her immortal role as Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), Walt Disney kept her on contract for Disney for decades. This was specifically for the reason that Caselotti would never do another animated role. Disney wanted the magic of the voice of Snow White to be singular. In the end, her role was. Caselotti continued to sing the songs as well as do appearances for Disney well into her elderly years. She did live until 1997. Now, having Caselotti in any role in your movie guaranteed its classic status. Her other small singing roles in films were in Wizard of Oz as well it’s a Wonderful Life.
James Coburn: Tough guy actor James Coburn was known for many roles throughout his long career. Children’s entertainment was not generally priority while playing a variety or thugs, villains, tough guys, and curmudgeons. However, a lot of people eventually have grandkids and Coburn decided to do a picture for them. The result was playing Henry J. Waternoose III in Monsters, Inc. The role of an industrialist will to cut moral and legal corners to get an advantage was in line with many of Coburn’s earlier roles. The only difference was the extra six pixilated legs. Coburn passed away less than a year after the film was released.
Big Names, One Role: When you think of interesting ends to a career, you can’t go too much wrong with pointing out Orson Welle’s carefully nuanced role of Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. It is also interesting to note that the legendary Anne Bancroft only ever got multi-dimensional as the role of the Ant Queen in Dreamworks Antz. It takes a lot of digging to figure out that Judy Garland even had an animated role. Garland absolutely did towards the end of her life. But other than as the answer to a trivia question, I am not entirely sure how much fandom exists for 1982’s Gay Purr-ee? For the record, it is Warner Brothers attempt to wade into Disney territory with an animated feature about cats. One of my favorite all time animated films was Animalympics. The animated farce about Olympics coverage is also the lone animated credit for Gilda Radner.
An Extremely Honorable Mention: Can you believe that Jodie Foster will be 50 this year? I know that it seems like she has been acting forever but 50 sort of takes you back. Two reasons why Foster is only an honorable mention is that she may yet do more animated work. She also broke her streak in 2009 when she voiced Maggie Simpson in The Simpsons. Prior to her ruining her streak and well living, Foster was a great addition had she maintained her streak. Foster was the voice of Pugsley (not Wednesday) Addams in the 1973 animated Saturday morning cartoon The Addams Family.