Dick Beals

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Dick Beals
A photo of Dick Beals
Beals in 2009
Born Richard Beals
(1927-03-16)March 16, 1927
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died May 29, 2012(2012-05-29) (aged 85)
Vista, California, United States
Alma mater Michigan State University
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1947–2005

Richard "Dick" Beals (March 16, 1927 – May 29, 2012) was an American voice actor, who performed many voices in his career, which spanned the period from the early 1950s into the 21st century. Beals specialized in doing the voices of young boys, although he was also hired to voice young female children.[1]

Perhaps his most recognizable characterization was the voice of the stop-motion animation figure called "Speedy Alka-Seltzer", featured in television commercials for more than 50 years.[2][3]

Life and career[edit]

Beals was born in Detroit, Michigan, and graduated in 1949 from Michigan State University (MSU), where he majored in radio broadcasting and puppetry. He covered intramural sports and performed in weekly radio dramas for the campus radio station WKAR. Beals was also a member of the Michigan State cheerleading squad.[4]

In January 1949, as a senior at MSU, Beals got a call to do a radio commercial for WXYZ, Detroit. After the show, the director asked him to be on call for all the children's voices as well as those of small, talking animals on all three network radio shows produced by WXYZ - The Lone Ranger, Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon.

Beals was a member of the cast of The Hudson Sketchbook, the "first regularly scheduled TV program to go on the air in Detroit," on WWJ-TV.[5]

In 1952, after performing in an episode of The Green Hornet, WXYZ station manager Jack McCarthy referred Beals to Forrest Owen of Wade Advertising. Owen showed Beals a rendering of a proposed product spokesman for their client, Alka-Seltzer and had him record a voice audition. Four months later, Beals was notified that he had been selected as the voice for Speedy Alka-Seltzer as well as the voice of Sticky, the Vaseline mascot.

Los Angeles[edit]

Beals moved to Los Angeles where he continued making commercials as Speedy Alka-Seltzer and also provided voices for other commercials, such as Alka-Seltzer, Oscar Mayer, the Campbell Soup Kids, and Bob's Big Boy.[3] Beals recorded his first Speedy Alka-Seltzer television commercial in 1953, doing a total of 225 in his career.[6]

In 1953, Beals was hired to do the voice for his first cartoon character. This was Ralph Phillips, a Walter Mitty-type boy in From A to Z-Z-Z-Z by Warner Brothers. The cartoon was nominated for an Academy Award.

Beals continued doing voices for Warner Brothers cartoons, often as uncredited secondary characters. When Hanna-Barbera started with The Flintstones, and then The Jetsons, Beals did many of the children's voices on those shows,[3] sometimes performing several different minor characters on the same show. One of his recurring roles was as Mr. Spacely's son Arthur on The Jetsons with the exception of season 3.

From 1960 to 1964, Beals played the voice of Davey Hansen, as well as other child voices, on Davey and Goliath.[7] He did not do any voices for that series after 1965, when Norma MacMillan replaced him as Davey.

In addition, Beals was one of the actors to voice Gumby in the 1960s,[8] although only as a substitute.[9]

Beals provided voices for both the characters "Yank" and "Dan" of the "American Eagles" troupe in the mid-1960s cartoon series Roger Ramjet. In 1967, Beals was the singing voice of child actor Bobby Riha as "Jack" in the NBC-TV special Jack and the Beanstalk starring Gene Kelly. He was the voice of Buzz Conroy, the boy scientist on Frankenstein, Jr. and The Impossibles, and Richie Rich's mischievous cousin, Reggie Van Dough on Richie Rich. Beals was also the voice of Birdboy on Birdman and the Galaxy Trio as well as the voices for Buzzer Bell, Jasper N. Parks and on rare occasions sharing the voice role of Nancy Wible as Shrinking Violette on The Funny Company. He also provided the voice for the recurring villain Tiny Tom in the 1966-69 cartoon series The Lone Ranger.

A unique on-camera role came in a 1960 episode of Peter Gunn called "The Dummy," in which he played a human vetriloquist's dummy who actually performs the act himself, since the ventriloquist had lost his voice, his other live action role was in the 1950s TV series Craig Kennedy, Criminologist playing as Bobby 'Butch' Moore in the episode "The Kid Brother".

Later career[edit]

In the 1980s, Beals owned an ad agency.[6] During the late 1980s, Beals provided the voices for various characters on Garfield and Friends with the most major character he voiced being Jon's cruel nephew Rosco. In the 1987 release of Arnold Leibovit's The Puppetoon Movie, Beals provided the voice for the character Speedy Alka-Selzer.

From 1989–1993, he played Nicholas Adamsworth on the Focus on the Family radio drama Adventures in Odyssey.

In 1996, Beals provided the voice of the Pinocchio puppet in the horror film Pinocchio's Revenge.

Beals continued doing occasional voice acting, appearing as a guest at Old Time Radio conventions and as a motivational speaker. He was active as an alumnus of Michigan State University and in his spare time he enjoyed spending time on his yacht.

Personal life and death[edit]

Beals wrote in his autobiography, Think Big, that his high voice and boyish appearance were due to a glandular problem; he did not go through puberty (much like Walter Tetley, who had provided the voice for Sherman on The Bullwinkle Show). Beals was 4 foot 7 inches (just under 140 cm) tall and weighed just under 70 pounds (about 31 kg). Despite his short stature, he flew planes using modified controls.

Beals died on May 29, 2012, at Vista Gardens Memory Care in Vista, California,[10] at the age of 85.[11][12]






  1. ^ http://www.newsfromme.com/2015/10/22/the-top-20-voice-actors-dick-beals/
  2. ^ Cohen, Harold (20 March 1967). "The Monday Wash". Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh. p. 19. 
  3. ^ a b c Dressler, Catherine (27 October 1992). "Little big man". Beaver County Times. Pennsylvania. p. 17. 
  4. ^ "Cheers for Michigan State Footballers". The Evening Independent. St. Petersburg, Florida. 13 December 1945. p. 18. 
  5. ^ "(photo caption)" (PDF). Broadcasting. June 6, 1949. p. 48. Retrieved 5 May 2015. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Dressler, Catherine (December 9, 1987). "Beals gives voice to ads, cartoons". Indiana Gazette. p. 14. Retrieved May 5, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ Boston Herald (28 March 2010) TV Q&A with David Inman
  8. ^ McLaughlin, Erin. "Dick Beals, Voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer, Gumby Is Dead". ABC News. Retrieved June 1, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Gumby's Name, Personality and Voice". GumbyWorld.com/Premavision. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 
  10. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (May 31, 2012). "Dick Beals dies at 85; voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Dick Beals, Voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer, Gumby Is Dead
  12. ^ Dennis Hevesi (June 1, 2012). "Dick Beals, Actor Who Gave a Voice to Gumby and Speedy, Is Dead at 85". The New York Times. 

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