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July 16, 1917|
Glendale, California, United States
|Died||February 22, 2017(aged 99)|
|Spouse(s)||Darlene Conley (m. 1959–66)|
William T. Woodson (July 16, 1917 – February 22, 2017) was an 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.
Before becoming a professional actor, he acted in stock theatre for nearly a decade with his first appearance in a 1928 play.
In 1943, Bill Woodson made his Broadway 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 the 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.
Film and television career
Woodson had a small live-action appearance in the 1953 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 also did some of the voice-over work on the 1960s series The Invaders.
In the 1970s, Woodson's television work included the opening narrative of The Odd Couple, the narration for the pilot of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, and a brief appearance on one episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
He was also a featured but un-credited 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 a number of 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
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, who coincidentally had played Ted Baxter, the man Woodson's character hoped to replace during his appearance on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
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 that his pronunciation of the word super as "syuper" rather than "sooper", which is more usual in the U.S., was due to the criticism of his speech he had received in high school. Wishing to sound more sophisticated, he patterned his speech after that of Ronald Colman.
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 and Dr. Strange in the episode "7 Little Superheroes".
Other acting work
In 1966, he played the Secretary of War in 3 episodes of F-Troop.
Bill Woodson was 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 many Disney read-alongs.
He died in February 2017 at the age of 99.
- "Super '70s and '80 "Super Friends" - Bill Woodson (narrator)". Noblemania.
- 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.
- Dunning, John, On the Air:The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, pp. 667–668