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Tom Kenny

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Tom Kenny
Kenny in 2022
Thomas James Kenny

(1962-07-13) July 13, 1962 (age 62)
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1981–present
WorksRoles and awards
(m. 1996)

Thomas James Kenny (born July 13, 1962) is an American actor and comedian. Since 1999, he has voiced the titular character in SpongeBob SquarePants and associated media. Kenny has voiced many other characters, including Heffer Wolfe in Rocko's Modern Life, the Ice King in Adventure Time and its spinoff Fionna and Cake, the Narrator and Mayor in The Powerpuff Girls, Carl Chryniszzswics in Johnny Bravo, Dog in CatDog, Hank and Jeremy in Talking Tom and Friends, The Penguin in various animated media based on DC Comics, and Spyro from the Spyro video game series. His live action work includes the comedy variety shows The Edge and Mr. Show. Kenny's accolades include two Daytime Emmy Awards and two Annie Awards for his voice work as SpongeBob SquarePants and the Ice King. He is married to fellow voice artist Jill Talley, who plays Karen on SpongeBob SquarePants, with two children.


Early life and stand-up comedy

Thomas James Kenny was born in Syracuse, New York, on July 13, 1962, and raised there. His parents were Theresa (née Donigan) and Paul Kenny.[2][3] As a young child, in the late 1960s and the 1970s, he loved drawing and collecting record albums. Kenny met Bobcat Goldthwait in first grade and they became lifelong friends.[4] In their mid-teens, they saw an ad for an open-mic night at Skaneateles that featured comedian Barry Crimmins with the moniker "Bear Cat". He and Goldthwait went to the event, and performed under the monikers Tomcat and Bobcat, respectively, as a tribute to Crimmins, after which Goldthwait used Bobcat as his stage name.[5][6][7] Describing Kenny's stand-up routines, Goldthwait said, "Tom would get up there and talk about his therapist and he didn't even have a therapist, he just loved Woody Allen."[8]

Kenny went to Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School, a Catholic high school.[9] After college, he performed stand-up comedy around the country for about eight years before he moved on to other venues.[7]

Television and film career

Kenny has acted in many films and TV shows, debuting in How I Got into College (1989) and later appeared in films such as Shakes the Clown[10] (1991) and Comic Book: The Movie (2004). On television, he would host the "Music News" segments of Friday Night Videos in the early 1990s. He appeared in sketch comedy shows The Edge which aired on Fox from 1992 to 1993, and Mr. Show which aired on HBO from 1995 to 1998, both roles in the show were as a regular cast member. He appears in the live-action segments of SpongeBob SquarePants as Patchy the Pirate, appeared on R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series on the season four episode, "Uncle Howee" as Uncle Howee, a high-energy kids' show host with strange powers.

Voice acting

Kenny at the 2015 Florida SuperCon

Kenny said that he voices "a lot of sweet yellow characters for some reason."[11] He described SpongeBob's voice as in between that of a child and an adult, stating "Think a Stan Laurel, Jerry Lewis kind of child-man. Kind of like a Munchkin but not quite, kind of like a kid, but not in a Charlie Brown child's voice on the TV shows."[12]

Joe Murray auditioned Kenny for voice acting roles for Rocko's Modern Life in a casting call in Los Angeles, California.[13] On one occasion, the producers required Kenny to fill the role of Charlie Adler, who was absent. He voices Cupid for the Nickelodeon show The Fairly OddParents.[14]

Joe Murray chose Kenny for several roles on another of his projects, Camp Lazlo as Scoutmaster Lumpus and Slinkman, because Murray, after seeing Kenny's previous work for Rocko's Modern Life, felt that Kenny "adds writing to his roles" and "brings so much".[15]

He voiced Dog in CatDog, as well as the voice of Cliff. He voices many characters in The Powerpuff Girls, including the Mayor, the Narrator, Mitch Mitchelson, Snake and Little Arturo from the Gangreen Gang, Rainbow the Clown, etc. He voiced Eduardo and various other characters in Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Dr. Two-Brains in the PBS Kids show, WordGirl, and the villains Knightbrace, the Common Cold and Mr. Wink in Codename: Kids Next Door.

Kenny is the Penguin in the 2004 TV series The Batman.

He voiced the character Squanchy on Rick and Morty.[16]

Kenny at New York Comic Con in 2014

He plays a number of roles in the Transformers Animated TV show. A few of the characters he voices in this series are Starscream and his clones, Isaac Sumdac and Waspinator. Kenny also voiced several characters on the animated show Xiaolin Showdown, as well as the Autobots Skids and Wheelie in the live-action Transformers film series. On Dilbert, Kenny voiced Ratbert, Asok, Dilbert's shower, and some minor characters. He played Mr. Hal Gibson in the animated kids show Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force GO!.

In 2009, Kenny became a regular cast voice in the Fox comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up. He voices Muhammad Sabeeh "Happy" Fa-ach Nuabar, the secretive custodian who is plotting a terrorist attack, as well as Happy's interpreter. The series premiered on April 19, 2009. Kenan Thompson, Kristin Chenoweth, Jason Bateman, Nick Kroll, Cheri Oteri, Henry Winkler, Will Arnett, and Will Forte are the other main cast members.[17]

He plays the Ice King and Magic Man on Adventure Time. In 2011, Kenny took over the role of Rabbit from Ken Sansom in Winnie the Pooh. From 2012 to 2014, Kenny voiced Woody Johnson on Comedy Central's Brickleberry. He voiced various characters in the Cartoon Network programme Mixels, Sumo in the Cartoon Network programme Clarence, Daddo in Henry Hugglemonster, Dr. Otto Octavius on The Ultimate Spider-Man, and Leo Callisto in Miles from Tomorrowland.

He has also provided voices in television advertisements for Best Buy (as an elf for a Christmas spot),[18] Experian (as a talking modem alongside DC Douglas),[19] and Talking Hank in the YouTube web series Talking Tom and Friends.[20]

In video games, Kenny is best known as the voice of Spyro the Dragon, having replaced previous voice actor Carlos Alazraqui. He first voiced Spyro in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, and continued to voice the character up until Spyro: A Hero's Tail, where he was replaced by Jess Harnell. He also voiced another character in the series, Sgt. James Byrd, in Spyro: Year of the Dragon.[21] He reprised both roles in Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a collection of modern remakes of the original Spyro trilogy.[22] He also voiced Crash Bandicoot live at E3 1997, switching out performances with Carlos Alazraqui.[23]

Kenny was a guest star on HarmonQuest as both himself and his "in-game character" Legnahcra the maître d' of Virtuous Harmony.[24]

He also voiced Fethry Duck in the 2017 version of DuckTales. In 2022, he voiced Benito Mussolini and other characters in Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio.

Kenny reprised his role as Ice King in the 2023 spinoff series Adventure Time: Fionna and Cake.

SpongeBob SquarePants

Kenny in 2010 at San Diego Comic Con

While working on the animated series Rocko's Modern Life, Kenny met marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. After the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life in 1996, Hillenburg began developing his own concept for an ocean-themed series, building off of his background in marine science. Hillenburg said that he wanted to base the show on his favorite animal, the sea sponge, "because it's a funny animal, a strange one."[25] To voice this character, Hillenburg approached Kenny in 1997.

The series, titled SpongeBob SquarePants, premiered on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999. It soon became a commercial success. Kenny plays various other characters on the show, including the live-action character Patchy the Pirate and the voices of Gary the Snail, the French Narrator (a parody of Jacques Cousteau), and SpongeBob's father (Harold SquarePants). In 2010, Kenny received the Annie Award for "Voice Acting in a Television Production" for his role as SpongeBob in SpongeBob's Truth or Square (season 6, episode 23–24). He also voiced SpongeBob in the sequel film released on February 6, 2015. In 2018 and 2020, he received the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.[26]

The television show celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019. In celebration, a television special was aired, titled "SpongeBob's Big Birthday Blowout". A notable scene includes each of the show's main characters' voice actors portraying live-action versions of their characters.[27] Although this was not the first Spongebob Squarepants episode that blended animated sequences with live-action characters, it was indeed the first time that the characters' voice actors have all played a live-action scene all together.[28] The airing was recognized as honoring the show's creator Stephen Hillenburg, who had passed away one year earlier.[29]

Later in 2019, he was featured in the live recording of the Broadway musical SpongeBob SquarePants playing the role of Patchy the Pirate.[30]

Super Bowl LVIII, which took place in 2024, was broadcast on CBS; the network's parent company Paramount also owns Nickelodeon, the network that airs Spongebob Squarepants. As part of a plan to maximize the use of its broadcasting rights partnership with the NFL, Paramount decided to air an "alternative" Super Bowl telecast on Nickelodeon that was aimed to be more family-friendly.[31] The channel's website claimed that the broadcast was intended for "kids of all ages, from 2 to 102".[32] The broadcast on Nickelodeon was hosted by Nate Burleson and Noah Eagle in live-action, and accompanying them were Spongebob and Patrick. Tom Kenny and Patrick's voice actor Bill Fagerbakke voiced the characters in real-time, improvising their own jokes in-character, and also utilized motion capture. Kenny commented that the Nickelodeon airing allowed viewers who weren't football fans to still engage with the game.[33]

Personal life

Kenny first met his wife Jill Talley in 1992 while working on The Edge. The two have collaborated on many productions together, including SpongeBob SquarePants (in which Talley voices Karen Plankton).[34] They also both appeared in the music video for "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins. They have two children, Mack (b. 1997) and Nora (b. 2003).[2][35] The Kennys live in Studio City, California.[36]


  1. ^ "Jill Talley on Instagram: "Happy 25th wedding anniversary, Tom Kenny! I know I post the same photo every year but it 's still my fav!"".
  2. ^ a b "Tom Kenny: Biography". TV Guide. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  3. ^ "Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, talks of local ties, life in Bikini Bottom". Times Leader. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "Tom Kenny Finds his Voice as SpongeBob SquarePants". backstage.com. Archived from the original on September 11, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "Barry Crimmins's Life-Changing Comedy". The New Yorker. August 6, 2015. Archived from the original on June 16, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  6. ^ "Louis C.K. directs CNY comedy legend Barry Crimmins' first-ever standup special". syracuse.com. October 24, 2016. Archived from the original on September 11, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Wojciechowski, Michele (April 21, 2015). "Voice Artist Tom Kenny on Being SpongeBob SquarePants". Parade. Archived from the original on August 17, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  8. ^ Nieratko, Chris (September 3, 2015). "Bobcat Goldthwait's Latest Documentary Examines Child Sexual Abuse". Vice. Archived from the original on September 19, 2016. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  9. ^ "Tom Kenny—Sit Down Shut Up, The Batman, SpongeBob SquarePants—02/27/09". GrouchoReviews.com. Groucho Reviews. Archived from the original on September 22, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  10. ^ Metro (February 2, 2015). "Interview: Tom Kenny talks voicing SpongeBob Squarepants and 'Mr. Show'". Metro New York. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  11. ^ Miller, Emily; Macchione, Elizabeth (June 14, 2003). "A discussion with Tom Kenny of 'SpongeBob Squarepants'". St. Augustine Record. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". cartoonician.com. September 21, 2012. Archived from the original on August 5, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  13. ^ "Lisa (Kiczuk) Trainor interviews Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life Archived April 20, 2015, at archive.today", The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ
  14. ^ Lawson, Tim and Alisa Persons. The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. p.192 Archived January 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Q & A with Joe Murray Archived January 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine", Cartoon Network Pressroom
  16. ^ "You Won't Believe Who Voices These Rick And Morty Characters | CCUK". Archived from the original on September 21, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2018.
  17. ^ "Sit Down, Shut Up". Fox. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  18. ^ Silver, Stephen. "Best Buy Elf Debuts in Christmas Support Ad". Dealerscope. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  19. ^ Douglas, DC. "Experian (w/ Tom Kenny)". DCDouglas.com. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  20. ^ Talking Tom and Friends (January 19, 2017), Talking Tom and Friends - Meet the Cast, archived from the original on October 30, 2021, retrieved July 1, 2018
  21. ^ Spyro: Year of the Dragon Manual (PDF). Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. October 24, 2000. p. 18. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 7, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  22. ^ "Spyro the Dragon is Back in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy!". Activision Blog. Kelly, Kevin. Archived from the original on April 6, 2018. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  23. ^ @carlosalazraqui (December 10, 2023). "We both interchanged during those years at the conference. Not sure about 97" (Tweet). Retrieved February 16, 2024 – via Twitter.
  24. ^ HarmonQuest. October 20, 2019. Archived from the original on October 30, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  25. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (July 29, 2001). "For Young Viewers; For This Scientist, Children Are Like, er, Sponges". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  26. ^ Hipes, Patick (April 27, 2018). "Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards: 'Bold And The Beautiful', 'Sesame Street' Top Winners". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 28, 2018. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  27. ^ Lawler, Kelly. "Incredibly sweet 'SpongeBob Squarepants' 20th anniversary special has a human Krusty Krab". USA TODAY.
  28. ^ Flores, Terry (July 10, 2019). "'SpongeBob' Voice Cast on Acting Together in Live-Action for the First Time for 20th Anniversary Special". Variety.
  29. ^ Jones, Marcus (May 22, 2019). "David Hasselhoff makes a splash in 'SpongeBob' 20th anniversary special". EW.com.
  30. ^ SpongeBob Voice Star Tom Kenny Joins Nick’s ‘SpongeBob Musical’ Event as Patchy the Pirate (Video)
  31. ^ Seitz, Loree (August 1, 2023). "CBS Sports and Nickelodeon to Host Kid-Focused Alternative Super Bowl Telecast". TheWrap.
  32. ^ "Everything You Need to Know About Super Bowl LVIII!". Nick.
  33. ^ Burt, Kristian (February 19, 2024). "EXCLUSIVE: 'SpongeBob' actor Tom Kenny explains * that * Leonardo DiCaprio joke from Nickelodeon's Super Bowl broadcast". TODAY.com.
  34. ^ Woulfe, Molly (July 15, 2005). "Jill Talley: She's ready to 'Sponge' off the Cubbies". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Archived from the original on June 26, 2021.
  35. ^ Edwards, Ellen (November 30, 2004). "As the voice of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny knows it's hip to be square". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 18, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  36. ^ Herbert, Geoff (January 8, 2015). "Tom Kenny, the voice of 'SpongeBob,' recalls growing up (sort of) in East Syracuse". syracuse.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 11, 2019.

External links

Preceded by Voice of Spyro the Dragon
1999–2002, 2018-present
Succeeded by
Preceded by Voice of Starscream
Succeeded by
Preceded by Voice of Wheelie
Succeeded by