Bill Woodson

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Bill Woodson
Born (1917-07-16) July 16, 1917 (age 97)
Glendale, California, United States
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1928-present
Spouse(s) Darlene Conley (m. 1959–66)
Children 3 sons

William T. Woodson (born July 16, 1917) is a retired American voice actor, best known for his narration of the radio series This is Your FBI and the animated series Super Friends and all its spin-offs.

Biography[edit]

Stage career[edit]

Before becoming a professional actor, he acted in stock theatre for nearly a decade with his first appearance in a 1928 play.[1]

In 1943, Bill Woodson made his stage debut as Lowell Denton in Harriet, starring Helen Hayes. He showed versatility as a performer, proving himself equally capable in classical roles such as that of Montano in Shubert Theatre's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello with Paul Robeson in the lead role. From 1946-47, the actor played, what is probably his best-known stage role, Le Bret opposite Jose Ferrer as the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac.

He also appeared as Tom Mackenzie in The Seven Year Itch, Stephen Douglas in The Rivalry and T. Stedman Harder in A Moon for the Misbegotten.

In 1947, he was among the first actors to be accepted to the first class of the newly formed Actors Studio.[2]

Radio career[edit]

Woodson served as the narrator for the crime drama series This is Your FBI from 1948-53 on ABC radio.[3]

He also voiced multiple characters on episodes of several other radio programs such as Suspense, Inheritance and Family Theater.

Film and television career[edit]

He had a small live-action appearance in the 1950s sci-fi film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms as a newscaster. Another on-screen role was as Sergeant Ed Blankey on the drama television series This Man Dawson.

He can be heard in the opening narrative of the 1970s television series The Odd Couple, explaining how it is that Felix and Oscar end up rooming together. He did the narration for the pilot of "The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams". He also did some of the voice-over work on the 1960s series The Invaders.

He was a featured (but uncredited) voice-over announcer for WKRP In Cincinnati. It was his voice, inviting the audience to stay tuned for the epilogue for each episode. He also did various voice roles in several episodes, including the pre-recorded announcer of the intro to Les Nessman's newscasts.

In 1983, the actor served as the narrator for the miniseries adaptation of Herman Wouk's novel, The Winds of War, and its sequel miniseries, War and Remembrance. In this capacity, he would explain to the television audience the large-scale historical events that provide the context for the storylines of the two miniseries.

"Super Friends" and voice acting career[edit]

William Woodson's legacy will be his long association with the Super Friends series, where he served as narrator and sometimes voiced additional characters. He took over the role from Ted Knight. It wasn't the first time Woodson replaced Knight. In 1971, he had a bit part in Series 2, Episode 9 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as "Big Voice Man", who auditions to be Ted's character's replacement while he takes his first vacation in 4 years.

Woodson narrated each subsequent Super Friends episode, narrating over 100 episodes, including the 7-minute short subject episodes produced from 1980 to 1983. Perhaps his most memorable line from the series was the often-used phrase that accompanied a transition to scenes at the Super Friends' headquarters: "Later, at the Hall of Justice..."

In a 2011 interview, he explained the reason for his pronunciation of Super Friends as "See-Yoo-per Friends" was that in high school people were criticizing his speech, so he decided to make it sound more sophisticated by channeling Ronald Colman and, among other things, stopped saying "Super" and started saying "See-Yoo-per".[1]

In addition, he also supplied the opening narration and voice for several characters on Battle of the Planets, as well as playing the sinister tanner in Walt Disney's The Small One. In 1981, he did the voice of J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man and that same year, he reprised the character on Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, where he also played Namor the Submariner in the episode "7 Little Superheroes".

Woodson later guest-starred on Garfield and Friends, The Jetsons, Tiny Toon Adventures and Duckman and other shows.

Other acting work[edit]

In 1966, he played the Secretary of War in 3 episodes of F-Troop.

He played the reporter in Stan Freberg's parody advertisement of Jacobsen Mowers, which were in actuality sheep grazing. In the satirical ad, he announced: "Jacobsen Mowers. Faster...than sheep!".

Bill Woodson is also the narrator of NFL Films' official films of Super Bowl II and he also narrated the 1967 NFL Championship Game, better known as the "Ice Bowl". The longtime voice of NFL Films, John Facenda, had been unavailable.

From 2004-2010, Woodson, a California resident, lent his austere deep voice to a series of humorous commercials promoting the Minnesota Twins. The ads had titles such as "The Minnesota Twins - Get to Know 'Em", "Every Fan Counts", and "This is Twins Territory". His voice can also be heard narrating in several children's audio books based on classic Disney films.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Super '70s and '80 "Super Friends" - Bill Woodson (narrator)". Noblemania. 
  2. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947-1950". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. "Also [in Lewis' class were] Henry Barnard, Jay Barney, John Becher, Philip Bourneuf, Joan Chandler, Peter Cookson, Stephen Elliott, Robert Emhardt, Joy Geffen, William Hansen, Will Hare, Jane Hoffman, George Keane, Don Keefer, George Matthews, Peggy Meredith, Ty Perry, Margaret Phillips, David Pressman, William Prince, Elliot Reid, Frances Reid, Kurt Richards, Elizabeth Ross, Thelma Schnee, Joshua Shelley, Fed Stewart, John Straub, Michael Strong, John Sylvester, Julie Warren, Mary Welch, Lois Wheeler, and William Woodson." 
  3. ^ Dunning, John, On the Air:The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, pp. 667–668 

External links[edit]