Billy West (voice actor)

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For other people named Billy West, see Billy West (disambiguation).
Billy West
Billy West by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Billy West on a panel for Futurama at the 2012 Comic Con in San Diego.
Born William Richard West
(1952-04-16) April 16, 1952 (age 62)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.[1]
Occupation Voice actor, comedian, singer
Years active 1988–present
Agent DPN
Spouse(s) Violet West
Website
www.billywest.com

William Richard "Billy" West (born April 16, 1952)[2] is an American voice actor, singer and comedian best known for his voice-over work in a number of television series, films and commercials. He has done hundreds of voice-overs in his career such as Ren Höek (season 3 and onward) and Stimpson (Stimpy) J. Cat on The Ren & Stimpy Show, Doug Funnie, Porkchop, and Roger Klotz on Doug, Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, and a number of others on Futurama. He also does voices for commercials and is the current voice of the red M&M and Buzz, the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee. In addition to his original voices, he has also voiced Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Shaggy Rogers, Popeye, and Woody Woodpecker during later renditions of the respective characters. He was also a cast member on The Howard Stern Show, noted for his impersonation of The Three Stooges' Larry Fine.

Biography[edit]

William Richard West was born in Detroit and raised in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston. He played in several bands in the late 1960s and 1970s and began a radio career in 1980. He has been sober since the age of 35 and is a vegan.[3][4][5]

Career[edit]

West worked at WBCN in Boston performing daily on the air on The Big Mattress show, then moved to New York City in 1988, working at K-Rock Radio (92.3 FM WXRK). West became a regular on The Howard Stern Show at that time until leaving in 1995. West moved to Los Angeles, where he found success as a voice actor and performer.

Television[edit]

West launched his career in the early 1980s performing daily comedic routines on Boston's WBCN. He left the radio station in 1988 to work on the short-lived revival of Beany and Cecil, which would be his first role in television. He was also a cast member and impressionist on The Howard Stern Show during the 1990s, where he gained notice for his impersonations of Three Stooges middleman Larry Fine, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, and Stern's head writer Jackie Martling. West's most notable film work was in Space Jam (1996), providing the voice of both Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. He has provided the same voices for other Looney Tunes films and video games.

West's first two high-profile roles came almost simultaneously: Doug and Ren & Stimpy, which were two of the first original three Nicktoons (the other being Rugrats). Over his career West has been the voice talent for close to 120 different characters including some of the most iconic animated figures in television history. He has become one of few voice actors who can impersonate Mel Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the voice Arthur Q. Bryan used for Elmer Fudd, as well as other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons. In 1998, Entertainment Weekly described West as "the new Mel Blanc" and noted his ability to mimic well-known voices,[6] though he would rather develop original voices.[6] West's favorite characters are Philip J. Fry and Stimpy, both of which he originated.[7] West has been very outspoken over his displeasure about the influx of movie star actors providing voice-over for films and major shows.[8][9] West has stated that he did not like the Disney version of Doug, and that he "couldn't watch" the show.[10][11] West was the voice of the show's namesake, Geeker, throughout Project Geeker '​s 13 episode run. West was the voice of Zim in the original pilot for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim.[1] Richard Horvitz was chosen for the series role because West's voice was too recognizable, according to Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez during DVD commentary. West is also the voice of "Red" in numerous M&M commercials as well as the 3-D movie "I Lost my M in Vegas", currently playing at M&M's World in Las Vegas, NV. West also voices a number of characters in the series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. He does not play a regular character in that series, but appears in almost every episode of the show voicing various minor and one-off characters. West voiced the character Moobeard in Moobeard the Cow Pirate, a short animation featured on Random! Cartoons, and reprises his role as Elmer Fudd in Cartoon Network's series The Looney Tunes Show.

The Ren & Stimpy Show[edit]

West provided the voice of Stimpy in Nickelodeon's The Ren & Stimpy Show from 1991 until 1996, and he provided the voice of Ren Höek from 1993–1996 (after Ren's original voice and series creator John Kricfalusi was fired by Nickelodeon for delivering un-airable episodes). West performed other characters on the series as well, such as Mr. Horse (another role that West was issued after Kricfalusi's departure) and the "Announcer/Salesman" of such shorts as the "Log" ads (a voice West would years later use as the Narrator for The Weird Al Show).

According to West, he was originally supposed to do the voice of both Ren and Stimpy (and performed both characters on the tape that was used to sell the show to Nickelodeon), but then Kricfalusi decided to do the voice of Ren himself once the show was sold and he had West on board as part of the selling point.[12] However, West provided Ren's maniacal laughter when John Kricfalusi was the voice of Ren.

Futurama[edit]

Billy West on the Exhibit floor at Comic-Con in San Diego, California.

West's roles in Futurama include Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan, as well as various other incidental characters. As he and other Futurama cast and crew point out in DVD commentaries, West voiced so many characters throughout the series that conversations are often held entirely between characters he is voicing.

West went into the Futurama auditions and was asked to try out for, as he says, "just about every part";[13] eventually landing the professor, Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan. West later got the part of Fry, which originally had gone to Charlie Schlatter.[14] While West is known for doing many different and unique voices, the voice he does for Philip J. Fry is often considered to be closer to his natural voice than any other character he has done (in an audio commentary, he states Fry is just himself at age 25).[15] This similarity, West acknowledges, was done purposefully in order to make it harder to replace him in the part[16] along with placing more of himself personally into the role (DVD commentary).

The part of Zapp Brannigan was created for Phil Hartman, but he died before the show started and West was issued the role. West has described his interpretation of Zapp Brannigan's voice as an imitation of Hartman, but described the actual vocalizations of the character as being based on "a couple of big dumb announcers I knew."[17]

Futurama was renewed by Comedy Central as four direct-to-DVD films broken into 16 television episodes.[18] West reprised his roles for these films, and was signed on for a new 26-episode season of Futurama which began airing in June 2010.[19]

Commercial television[edit]

West was the announcer of the program Screen Gems Network which ran from 1999–2001. He was also the promotional announcer for The Comedy Channel before it merged with HA! to become Comedy Central. Over his career, Billy West has voiced multiple characters in television commercials. These include (but are not limited to):

West voiced the Speed Racer character in a late-1990s advertisement for Volkswagen,[6] because the commercial's producers could not locate Peter Fernandez, the original voice of Speed. However, the producers did locate Corinne Orr, the original voice for the characters Trixie and Spritle.[citation needed]

Internet entertainment[edit]

He also provided voices for the Eric Kaplan-created webtoon Zombie College as well as voicing two characters in Tofu the Vegan Zombie.[21]

Films[edit]

Perhaps West's most notable film work came in the 1996 film Space Jam, where he provided the voice of both Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. West reprised the roles of Bugs and Fudd in subsequent Looney Tunes feature-length films and returned as Fudd in the theatrically released Looney Tunes: Back in Action. In 1998, West starred in the direct-to-video film Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island as Shaggy Rogers, becoming the second person to portray the character (the first being Casey Kasem). He was one of the top contenders to replace Kasem after his retirement in 2009, but lost the role to Matthew Lillard. In 2000, he provided additional voices in Disney's Dinosaur. In 2004, West voiced the classic character Popeye in the 75th anniversary film Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, and made his live-action film debut in Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie. He also appeared in a cameo in Garfield: The Movie. Other films featuring West's vocal talents include Joe's Apartment, Cats & Dogs, Olive, the Other Reindeer, TMNT, The Proud Family Movie, and three Tom and Jerry direct-to-video movies.

Music[edit]

West is also a guitarist and singer-songwriter with a band called Billy West and The Grief Counselors. They have released their first album, Me-Pod.[22] West has toured as a guitarist for Roy Orbison and Brian Wilson.[6]

In 1982, West sang lead, doing an impersonation of Mike Love, on a Beach Boys-inspired tune, "Another Cape Cod Summer This Year," by studio band ROUTE 28, written and produced by Erik Lindgren on his Arf! Arf! Records label.[citation needed]

West has collaborated with Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, and Los Lobos, and he has played live on several occasions with Brian Wilson, including the guitar solo on the Beach Boys tune "Do it Again" on Late Show with David Letterman, in the mid-1990s.[23]

The Futurama episode "Proposition Infinity" features the track "Shut up and Love Me" which was written and played by Billy West and Greg Leon.[24]

Radio[edit]

Throughout the 1980s, Billy West provided character voices on Charles Laquidara's Big Mattress radio show on Boston's WBCN. West was also one half of the award winning WBCN Production team from 1980–1986. From 1989 through 1995,[25] West provided The Howard Stern Show with character voices such as Jim Backus, Lucille Ball, Raymond Burr, Johnny Carson, Johnnie Cochran, Connie Chung, Jane Curtin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Louis "Red" Deutsch, David Dinkins, Mia Farrow, Larry Fine, Pete Fornatale, Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee Gifford, Rudolph Giuliani, Mark Goddard, Bobcat Goldthwait, the Greaseman, Jonathan Harris (as Dr. Zachary Smith), Leona Helmsley, Evander Holyfield, Shemp Howard, Lance Ito, Elton John, Jane Curtin, Don Knotts, Jay Leno, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Martling (as the Jackie puppet), Ed McMahon, Al Michaels, Billy Mumy (as Will Robinson), Cardinal O'Connor, Maury Povich, Soon-Yi Previn, Marge Schott, Frank Sinatra, Rae Stern (Howard Stern's mother), George Takei, Joe Walsh, and Robin Williams until eventually leaving the show over money.[26] West was an occasional contributor to The Adam Carolla Show, a syndicated morning radio show that replaced Stern's show on CBS in LA. On February 19 and 20, 2007, The Howard Stern Show ran a special two-part retrospective of West's work with the show. It marked his first work with the show since leaving after his last show on November 1, 1995.[citation needed] On June 9, 2009, West appeared on Jackie Martling's Jackie's Joke Hunt on Stern's satellite radio channel Howard 101.[27]

Video games[edit]

West's talents have also extended into the realm of video games. Characters most notably voiced by West are perhaps Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in numerous Looney Tunes video games.

Other video game characters voiced by Billy West include:

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1988 The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil Cecil Voice role
Animated series
1991–1994 Doug Doug Funnie (1991–1994)
Porkchop
Roger Klotz (1991–1994)
Voice role
Animated series
1991–1996 Ren & Stimpy Show, TheThe Ren & Stimpy Show Stimpson J. "Stimpy" Cat
Ren Höek (1993–1996)
Mr. Horse (1993–1996)
Voice role
Animated series
1993 Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show, TheThe Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show France Bug Voice role
Animated series
1996 Earthworm Jim Additional voices Voice role
Animated series
1996 Joe's Apartment Ralph Roach Voice role
1996 Space Jam Bugs Bunny
Elmer Fudd
Voice role
Live-action/animated film
1997 Wacky World of Tex Avery, TheThe Wacky World of Tex Avery Tex Avery
Freddie the Fly
Sagebrush Sid
Voice role
Animated series
1997 Cow and Chicken Additional voices Voice role
Animated series
1997 I Am Weasel Additional voice Voice role
Animated series
1997 Project G.e.e.K.e.R. GeeKeR Voice role
Animated series
1997 Weird Al Show, TheThe Weird Al Show Show announcer
Harvey the Wonder Hamster
Television series
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Slimer
Mayor McShane
Voice role
Animated series
1997 Space Goofs Additional voices Voice role
Animated series
1998–2000 Voltron: The Third Dimension Pidge Voice role
Animated show
1998 Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island Norville "Shaggy" Rogers Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
1998–2001 Histeria! Chit Chatterson
Bugs Bunny
Elmer Fudd
Voice role
Animated series
1998–2004 CatDog Rancid Rabbit
Mr Sunshine
Randolph Grant
Voice role
Animated series
1999 Mad Jack the Pirate Snuk
Jon LeFeet
additional voices
Voice role
Animated series
1999 Queer Duck Bi-Polar Bear
Other characters
Voice role
Animated series
1999 Detention Emmitt Roswell Voice role
Animated series
1999 New Woody Woodpecker Show, TheThe New Woody Woodpecker Show Woody Woodpecker
Wally Walrus
Smedley
Doug Knutts
Voice role
Animated series
1999 Olive, the Other Reindeer Mr. Eskimo Voice role
Animated television film
1999 Rayman: The Animated Series Rayman Voice role
Animated series
1999–2003
2008–2013
Futurama Philip J. Fry
Professor Farnsworth
Dr. Zoidberg
Zapp Brannigan
Richard Nixon
Additional characters
Voice role
Animated series
2000 Baby Felix Felix the Cat
Additional characters
Voice role
Animated series
2000 Poochini's Yard Poochini
Walter White
Mr. Garvey
Lockjaw
Voice role
Animated series
2001 Horrible Histories Stitch
Narrator
various
Voice role
Animated series
2001 Oblongs, TheThe Oblongs George Klimer
Anita Bidet
Additional characters
Voice role
Animated series
2001 Totally Spies! Lester Crawley Voice role
Animated series
2001 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Various characters Voice role
Animated film
2002 Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring Freddie Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2002 Crank Yankers Confucious
Moo Shu
Voice role
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Elmer Fudd
Peter Lorre
Voice role
2003 Duck Dodgers Mother Fudd Voice role
2003–2009 My Life As a Teenage Robot Principal Razinski Voice role
Animated series
2004 Justice League Unlimited Skeets "The Greatest Story Never Told"
2004 Comic Book: The Movie Leo Matuzik Direct-to-video
Live-action
2004 Garfield: The Movie Dog Voice role
2004 Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy Popeye
Pappy
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Computer-animated film
2005–2007 Loonatics Unleashed Electro J. Fudd
Sagittarius Stomper
Voice role
Animated series
2005 Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars Major Biff Buzzard
King Thingg
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2005 Proud Family Movie, TheThe Proud Family Movie Board Member
Cab Driver
Voice role
Animated television film
2005 Tom and Jerry: The Fast and the Furry Biff Buzzard
President of Hollywood
Squirty
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2005–2008 Firehouse Tales Merl the mail truck Voice role
Animated series
2006 Curious George Manager Voice role
Animated film
2006 Squirrel Boy Kyle Finkster Voice role
Animated series
2006 Queer Duck: The Movie Bi-Polar Bear Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2006 Zombie College Skully
Graham
Voice role
Web series
2006 Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Bugs Bunny
Elmer Fudd
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2007 TMNT Anchorman
Jersey Devil
Various characters
Voice role
2007–2009 Rick & Steve the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World Dr. Hunk
Anderson Pooper
George W. Bush
Franz Nerdlinger
Log Cabin Tom
Various characters
Voice role
Animated series
2007 Futurama: Bender's Big Score Philip J. Fry
Professor Farnsworth
Dr. Zoidberg
Zapp Brannigan
Richard Nixon
Additional characters
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2008 Random! Cartoons Finster #1
Pilot #1
Johnny Space Guy
Space Thug
Moobeard
Voice role
Animated series
2008 Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs Philip J. Fry
Professor Farnsworth
Dr. Zoidberg
Zapp Brannigan
Richard Nixon
Additional characters
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2008 Futurama: Bender's Game Philip J. Fry
Professor Farnsworth
Dr. Zoidberg
Additional characters
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2009 Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder Philip J. Fry
Professor Farnsworth
Dr. Zoidberg
Zapp Brannigan
Leo Wong
Richard Nixon
Additional characters
Voice role
Direct-to-video
Animated film
2009–2011 Jungle Junction Ellyvan Voice role
Animated series
2010 Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes Tom Direct-to-video
Animated film
2010 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Gunther Gator Voice role
Animated series
2011 Looney Tunes Show, TheThe Looney Tunes Show Elmer Fudd Voice role
Animated series
2011 Mongo Wrestling Alliance[28] Various Voice role
Animated series
2011 Eric Kaplan's Sketch World Additional voices Voice role
Web series
2011 Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz Tom Direct-to-video
Animated film
2012 High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange, TheThe High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange Cranberry Voice role
2013 Ultimate Spider-Man Rocket Raccoon Voice role
Animated series
2013 I Know That Voice Himself Documentary
2014 Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Auntie Em Voice role
2014 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Philip J. Fry Voice role
2014 Mixels Lunk, Gobba, Balk Voice role
2014 7D, TheThe 7D Bashful Voice role
Preceded by
Casey Kasem
Norville "Shaggy" Rogers Voice
1998
Succeeded by
Scott Innes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Billy West (II)". Internet Movie Database. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 11, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Billy West: The Whole Story". BillyWest.com. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Billy West: The Many (Cartoon) Voices In His Head.". Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Billy West, voice of Ren and Stimpy, Futurama, on the rough start that shaped his life". 
  5. ^ "Billy West, Ren, Stimpy, and Geekza.". Retrieved July 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Wolk, Josh (February 19, 1998). "'Toon Voice: Billy West is the new Mel Blanc". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ Billy West official site. Retrieved October 26, 2006.
  8. ^ Ryan, Kyle. "Billy West | Interview". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Slashdot | Futurama Star Billy West Answers Slashdot Questions". Interviews.slashdot.org. July 5, 2006. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  10. ^ Billy West Talks About Doug on YouTube[dead link]
  11. ^ Billy West talks about Doug on YouTube
  12. ^ TVsquad.com interview (20th question). Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  13. ^ TVsquad.com interview (31st question). Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  14. ^ IGN.com interviews Billy West (3rd question) at the Wayback Machine (archived April 7, 2007). Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  15. ^ BioGamerGirl.com interview (9th question). Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  16. ^ TVsquad.com interview (32nd question). Retrieved March 10, 2007.
  17. ^ Joel Keller (June 15, 2006). "Billy West: The TV Squad Interview". Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  18. ^ "article on Futurama's return". Tvsquad.com. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  19. ^ Salem, Rob. "Futurama cast members ink new deal with Fox". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 8, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Tea-K-O". digitalcontentproducer. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Website for Tofu the Vegan Zombie". Retrieved July 6, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Billy West and the Grief Counselors on". Cdbaby.com. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  23. ^ Sound clip[dead link]
  24. ^ [1][dead link]
  25. ^ "Billy's Bio". Billywest.com. Retrieved February 20, 2009. 
  26. ^ Interview with UGO.com (20th question). Retrieved January 29, 2007.
  27. ^ "For the week of 06/08/2009 to 06/12/2009". Marksfriggin. Retrieved March 8, 2010. 
  28. ^ "Mongo Wrestling Alliance on AdultSwim.com". AdultSwim.com. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 

External links[edit]