When people in the business of voice over retire or pass away, they leave a role (or a number of roles) behind them that need to be filled, especially those who record character voices, are the voices of a franchise, or are known for a very specific niche voice over.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a few examples of people who have either vacated their posts out of choice or who were called away from their work (and this world), discussing the elephant in the room which is:
Who gets the gig when someone else has gone?
I’ve noticed over the years that whenever someone in a prominent voice over role passes away or resigns their post, people tend to wonder who will take their place.
A few people within the last year fit this description, including the late Don LaFontaine, the late Wayne Allwine, and now, the very much alive Casey Kasem who retired just last weekend at the age of 77.
Known for his signature movie trailer voice, Don was literally the voice of the movies for decades. When we lost him last year on Labor Day (September 1, 2008), an enormous void opened up, both on an emotional level and in his line of work. A pioneer in the field, Don LaFontaine wasn’t only the voice who delivered famous lines such as “In a world…”, he also was the person who helped to pen those lines in the 1960s when he worked in advertising and production.
People were deeply affected by his passing because Don made himself so accessible to the voice over community, made impressions on those he worked with, and had a talent that was only matched by his generosity.
Soon after he died, quite unexpectedly following a short illness and complications due to a medical procedure, people started talking, quietly, but still talking, about who might take Don’s place. We needed the opportunity to grieve his loss and celebrate his life before one could even think about discussing the inevitable.
At the time, it felt disrespectful to address the topic, but all the same, the question was asked.
Although you may not have known his name, you knew him as the charming vocal embodiment of Mickey Mouse. Our community lost Wayne just a couple of months ago from complications of diabetes. His wife, Russi Taylor, is most fittingly the voice of Minnie Mouse. The two met in studio over twenty years ago and it was love at first sight.
Upon news of his death, The New York Times published a feature article about him and his life, focusing in on the fact that the voice of Mickey Mouse had died. What a thing for the world to hear! Mickey Mouse is such a symbolic figure. Wayne was the third person to give voice to Mickey Mouse. The first voice of Mickey was Walt Disney himself and the second voice of Mickey was performed by Jimmy MacDonald.
While people again started to talk about who might be the next Mickey Mouse and where auditions may be held to choose a new voice actor for the role, word was getting around that there was likely someone else waiting in the wings if such a thing should happen, hushing the whispers until the next Mickey Mouse voice talent is made known.
Something we might be overlooking is the possibility of a succession plan, and I say this because people who are not directly involved with what is going on often have less information at their disposal to draw upon which may help to explain why the question of “who’s going to take their place?” is raised following the retirement or passing away of an individual.
In business, government and even the monarchy, there are people designated as heirs and or successors prior to a person’s departure should the incumbent not be able to continue. I think we’ll find that the same may be true for voice acting.
Take Walt Disney (d. 1966). He chose to stop recording as Mickey Mouse in 1947 and the role was given to Jimmy MacDonald.
Voices of Mickey Mouse (years shown in duration of time as Mickey’s voice):
Walt Disney (1928-1947)
Jimmy MacDonald (1947-1977)
Wayne Allwine (1977-2009)
As we know, Saturday July 4th, 2009 marked the end of Casey Kasem’s broadcast radio career as the host of America’s Top 10. Who will replace Casey Kasem? Does Kasem need a replacement? All kinds of questions are asked at times like these where something is unknown or when we’re in a period of transition.
If we look at what has happened before with shows Casey Kasem has retired from, we get a better idea of what may happen now. Two of his other shows were passed on to his successor, Ryan Seacrest, so it is quite possible that Seacrest may also inherit America’s Top 10.
Do you have anything to add to what you just read?
Do you know anything more about the succession process in general? Maybe you have found yourself in a position where you were named a successor or perhaps you yourself gave over the reins to someone new.
How early is too early to talk about who’s going to voice a role next?
I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.