Paul Frees (Paul Frees)

Paul Frees

Voice and Character Actor. He is probably best remembered for his cartoon work with the Walt Disney Company, Jay Ward Productions, and Rankin/Bass Productions. He possessed an unusually wide four-octave voice range that would enable him to voice everything from the thundering basso profundo of the unseen ‘Ghost Host’ in the Haunted Mansion attraction at Disneyland in California and at Walt Disney World in Florida to the squeaky voice of the ‘Little Green Sprout’ in the Green Giant vegetable commercials. Born Solomon Hersh Frees in Chicago, Illinois, he first appeared on vaudeville in the 1930s, as an impressionist, under the name Buddy Green. In 1942 he began his acting career and remained active until his death in 1986. During that time, he was involved in more than 250 films, cartoons, and television appearances, which often went uncredited like many other voice actors. His early radio career was cut short when he was drafted into World War II where he fought at Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Wounded in action, he returned to the US for a year of recuperation. After the war, he attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, California but dropped out and returned to radio work when his first wife’s health failed. He appeared frequently on Hollywood radio series, including “Escape,” playing lead roles and alternating with actor William Conrad as the opening announcer of “Suspense” in the late 1940s, and parts on “Gunsmoke” and “Crime Classics.” One of his few starring roles in this medium was as ‘Jethro Dumont’ in the 1949 series “The Green Lama,” as well as a syndicated anthology series “The Player,” in which he narrated and played all of the parts. In the 1950s and into the 1970s, he was often called upon to “re-loop” the dialogue of other actors, often to correct for foreign accents, lack of English proficiency, or poor line readings by non-professionals. These dubs extended from a few lines to entire roles. This can be noticed rather clearly in the film “Midway” (1976) where he reads for actor Toshiro Mifune’s performance as Admiral Yamamoto, or in the film “Some Like It Hot” (1959) in which he provides the voice of funeral director ‘Mozzarella’ as well as much of the falsetto voice for actor Tony Curtis’ female character ‘Josephine’. He also dubbed the entire role of ‘Eddie’ in the Disney film “The Ugly Dachshund” (1966), replacing actor Dick Wessel, who had died of a sudden heart attack after completion of principal photography. He also dubbed actor Humphrey Bogart in his final film “The Harder They Fall” (1956), who was suffering at the time from what would be diagnosed as esophageal cancer and thus could barely be heard in some takes, hence the need for his voice to be dubbed. He also voiced the cars in the comedy “The Great Race” (1965). Some of his most memorable voices were for various Disney projects. He voiced Disney’s ‘Professor Ludwig Von Drake’ in eighteen episodes of the Disney anthology television series, beginning with the first episode of the newly renamed “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” on September 24, 1961. The character also appeared on many Disneyland Records. Von Drake’s introductory cartoon, “An Adventure in Color,” featured “The Spectrum Song,” which he sang as ‘Von Drake’. He was a regular presence in Jay Ward cartoons, providing the voices of ‘Boris Badenov’ (from “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”), ‘Inspector Fenwick’ (from “Dudley Do-Right,” impersonating Eric Blore), ‘Ape’ (impersonating Ronald Colman), ‘District Commissioner Alistair’ and ‘Weevil Plumtree’ in “George of the Jungle,” ‘Baron Otto Matic’ in “Tom Slick,” ‘Fred’ in “Super Chicken,” and the “Hoppity Hooper” narrator, among numerous others. For Rankin/Bass cartoons, he voiced the traffic cop, ticket-taker, and Santa Claus in “Frosty the Snowman” (1969) and the central villain ‘Burgermeister Meisterburger’ and his assistant ‘Grimsley’ in “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” (1970). He was several voices, including ‘Eon the Terrible’ in “Rudolph’s Shiny New Year” (1976). In 1968, he appeared as ‘Captain Jones’ in the Thanksgiving special “The Mouse on the Mayflower,” and that Christmas he appeared as the father of the Drummer Boy, Ali, and as the three Wise Men in “The Little Drummer Boy.” He provided the voices for several J. R. R. Tolkien characters (most notably the dwarf ‘Bombur’) in Rankin/Bass animated versions of “The Hobbit” (1977) and “The Return of the King” (1980). He also voiced King Haggard’s wizard ‘Mabruk’ in “The Last Unicorn” (1982) and provided several voices for the “Jackson Five” cartoon series between 1971 and 1973. In television commercials, he was the voice of the ‘Pillsbury Doughboy’, the 7-Up bird ‘Fresh-Up Freddie’, Froot Loops spokesbird ‘Toucan Sam’ (previously voiced by Mel Blanc, later voiced by Maurice LaMarche), ‘Boo-Berry’ in the series of monster cereal commercials, and the ‘Little Green Sprout’, who called out to the Jolly Green Giant, “Hey, Green Giant, what’s new besides ho-ho-ho?” He narrated many live action films and television series, including “Naked City” (1958 to 1963) and provided the voice of the eccentric billionaire ‘John Beresford Tipton’ on the dramatic CBS television series “The Millionaire” (1955 to 1960). He was the narrator at the beginning of the film “The Disorderly Orderly” (1964) starring actor Jerry Lewis. He also “looped” an actor’s voice in the film “The Ladies Man” (1961) also starring Jerry Lewis. He was also a songwriter and screenwriter, his major work being the little-seen 1960 film “The Beatniks.” On rare occasions, he appeared on camera, usually in minor roles. He played the Orson Welles sound-alike radio reporter in “The War of the Worlds” (1953), where he is seen dictating into a tape recorder as the military prepares the atomic bomb for use against the invading Martians. In 1954, he appeared in the film noir classic “Suddenly” (1954) which starred Frank Sinatra and Sterling Hayden. He played a scientist in “The Thing from Another World” (1982), a death-row priest in “A Place in the Sun” (1951), and French fur trader ‘McMasters’ in “The Big Sky” (1952). In 1955, he appeared as an irate husband suing his wife for alimony in an episode of CBS’s sitcom “The Ray Milland Show.” In the film “Jet Pilot” (1957), he played a menacing Soviet officer whose job is to watchdog pilot Janet Leigh, but instead manages to eject himself out of a parked jet, enabling Leigh to rescue John Wayne and fly back to the West. He also played the apocalyptic voice for the ‘talking rings’ in “The Time Machine” (1960), the voice of a war correspondent interviewing Army General George Patton while riding his horse in “Patton” (1970) and also as a member of Patton’s staff, and also did various voice-overs for other actors, including the voice for the sheik hosting a troop review for Patton, as well as several others. His voice also appears in “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970) as the English language voice of the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and the opening voice-over narration for “Doc Savage” (1975). He also did the final ending narration after the destruction of the Earth in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970). He died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 66. For his contributions to the Disney legacy, he was honored posthumously as a Disney Legend on October 9, 2006. (bio by: William Bjornstad) Cause of death: Heart ailment


  • June, 22, 1920
  • USA


  • November, 11, 1986
  • USA

Cause of Death

  • Heart ailment


  • Cremated

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