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Phone, Internet & P.A. Voices

THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW/CBS/1960-68 (Sarah the operator) - When anyone in the small town of Mayberry, North Carolina needed to make a phone call, they picked up their telephone receiver and asked Sarah the town operator to connect them with the party of their choice. Although often spoken to, Sarah was neither heard nor seen during the life of the series. Another never seen but often spoken to character was Juanita the waitress, the on-and-off girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Barney occasionally serenaded Juanita over the phone by singing "Nita, Jua-an-a-nita."

BRACKEN'S WORLD/NBC/1969-70 (Mr. John Bracken) - Deep in the heart of Hollywood, California was the fictional Century Studios ruled by the mysterious movie mogul, John Bracken. Never seen, only heard via phone conversations (voice of Warren Stevens), Mr. Bracken with the help of his executive secretary Sylvia Caldwell (Eleanor Parker) ran his studio, doling out parts which could make or break the careers of a bevy of aspiring actors. The poor ratings during the first season forced some changes in the script which included bringing Mr. Bracken out of limbo and onto the television screen. Leslie Nielsen was cast as Mr. Bracken who became personally involved in the affairs of the studio and the lives of his actors. With the entrance of Mr. Bracken, came the exit of his secretary as a recurring role. The series was filmed on the lots of 20th Century Fox.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS/ABC/1976-81 (Charlie Townsend) - This detective series based in Los Angeles featured a bevy of beautiful former police women including Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan, Farrah Fawcett Majors as Jill Munroe, Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett and later Cheryl Ladd as Kris Munroe, Shelley Hack as Tiffany Welles and Tanya Roberts as Julie Rogers who signed on to work for the mysterious Charlie Townsend, the owner of the Charles Townsend Investigations. Each assignment began and ended in a office where the girls and the trusty John Bosley (David Doyle) sat and talked to Charlie via a conference telephone connection. You see the gimmick to the series was that you never got to see who Charlie was. The girls had the Pandora box syndrome and were always trying to figure out what he looked like from the few clues given them. The most important being the voice which was supplied by veteran actor John Forsythe. With tease shots much like in the MILLIONAIRE series, the audience got to see faint glimpses of Charlie's hands, legs, or the back of his head. Once when one of the Angels was critically wounded by gunshot, Charlie, dressed in a surgical gown and mask, visited the operating room unbeknownst to the rest of his people, but that was the extent of his exposure. Of course, John Forsythe did finally come back into the public's eye when he starred as multimillionaire Blake Carrington on the highly successful prime time soap DYNASTY/ABC/1981-89.

TRIVIA NOTE: A TV cartoon version of CHARLIE'S ANGELS called THE C.B. BEARS/NBC/1977 featured three animated bears, Hustle, Dump and Boogie who solved mysteries for a faceless woman named Charlie who called them on the C. B. Radio. The motion picture remake Charlie’s Angeles (2000) starring Drew Barrymore, Linda Liu and Cameron Diaz reincarnated Charlie Townsend, but true to form per the original series, the audience and the Angels never saw Charlie. See also - "The Millionaire"

THE DREW CAREY SHOW/ABC/1995-2004 (Mr. Bell) - Hidden from view but very prominent was the character Mr. Hawthorne Bell, a high-level executive at Winfred-Louder Department Store in Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Bell communicated via telephone (voice-over by Kevin Pollack) or through the door of his office. When scenes required Mr. Bell's presence, everything was shown from his viewpoint or his face was obscured. Mr. Bell was later fired and replaced by a very visible Mr. Nigel Wick when the store was purchased by a Dutch firm.

FACE TO FACE/NBC/1946-47 (Voices behind the scene) - This art quiz program featured an artist (Bill Dunn) who drew pictures of unseen persons guided by clues he received from conversations heard from behind curtains or over a telephone. .When completed, the sketch was shown to the studio audience. Eddie Dunn was the interviewer/host of the series.

FRASIER/NBC/1993-2004 (Radio Call-In Voices & Maris Crane) - When psychologist Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) relocated to Seattle, Washington he hosted a radio call-in show at station KACL. He greeted each on-air caller with the soothing "This is Dr. Frasier Crane-I'm Listening." The voices of Dr. Crane's callers were provided by different famous actors each week (a la THE SIMPSONS). The TV viewers had the fun of listening to his humorous conversations as well as trying to identify the weekly star's voice. Guest actors to call into the radio program included Jeff Daniels (Doug, a grown man with mother troubles); Griffin Dunne (Russell, a depressive); Linda Hamilton (Claire, a despondent ex-girlfriend); Judith Ivey (Lorraine, who put Frasier on call waiting); Bruno Kirby (Marco, a man who can't commit to a relationship) Joe Mantegna (Derek, a newspaper critic who hated Frasier); Christopher Reeve (Leonard, an agoraphobic); and Eddie Van Halen (a befuddled caller who doesn't know he's on the air).

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES/BBC/1990-93 & 1995 (Sheridan Bucket) - Socialite wanna-be Hyacinth Bucket often received phone calls from her grown son Sheridan. The character was always on the other end of the telephone line but never heard nor seen during the life of the series.

M*A*S*H/CBS/1972-83 (Loudspeaker voice) - Fans of the military comedy M*A*S*H will remember the ubiquitous voice blaring over the public address system at the Korean War M*A*S*H 4077th unit (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) announcing the arrival of front-line casualties but many do not know the person behind the voice. Well, the actor who provided it was Sal Viscuso. You may remember him from the prime time soap opera satire SOAP/ABC/1977-81 as the timid yet hormone-ridden Catholic priest, Father Tim Flotsky who left the church, married and produced a baby which was possessed by the devil. Todd Susman also provided the voice for the P.A. System. Another faceless favorite was Sergeant “Sparky” Pryor, the telephone operator at Army headquarters to whom 4077th company clerk Walter “Radar” O’Reilly and Maxwell Klinger often spoke over a crank operated field telephone. Sparky (played by Dennis Simple) was seen for the first time on episode “Tuttle.”

MADAME'S PLACE/SYN/1982-83 (R. Ray Randall) - On the late-night talk show "Madame's Place," R. Ray Randall (voice of Chandler Garrison) a TV Network Head, offered directions and suggestions to the show's host Madame (a puppet controlled by Wayland Flowers). Madame called Randall "No face" because he was never-seen but only heard over a speaker phone.

MAGNUM, P.I./CBS/1980-88 (Robin Masters) - Tom Selleck starred as Thomas Magnum, an ex-Navy intelligence officer turned private investigator living at the mansion of wealthy writer, Robin Masters located on the North Shore of Oahu Island in Hawaii. In exchange for services as a security advisor, Magnum was given a room on the estate. The character Robin Masters was never seen on the series but only heard talking via phone conversations to his British manservant Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman) who ran Master's extensive estate in his absence. Orson Welles supplied the voice of Robin Masters from 1981-85. In a 1986 episode (after Welles died) it was suggested by Magnum that Higgins who was always writing his memoirs on the mansion computer was actually the famed writer Robin Masters, living incognito and that the voice that we heard for the first four seasons was actually just an actor who assisted Higgins in his deception for anonymity. It was an interesting theory but Higgins (laughing) flatly denied the allegation, but it still kept the viewing audience wondering. On the final episode of the 1987 season, Thomas Magnum was shot and lay in a coma struggling for his life. Hoping to reach Magnum's subconscious mind, Higgin's dropped the remark that if Magnum died he'd never find out whether he (Higgins) was really Robin Masters. It worked because, Magnum was revived in the following season opener. Alas, they never revealed the true identity of Robin Masters.

NANCY/NBC/1970-71 (Voice of the US President) - Renne Jarrett starred as Nancy Smith, the daughter of the president of the United States of America who married a veterinarian from Center City, Iowa. Her father, the President, was never seen on camera, but occasionally his voice was heard over the telephone.

THE NET/USA/1998-99 (Internet Personality) - On the hi-tech suspense series THE NET Brooke Langton starred as Angela Bennett, a female who is sought by a group of computer terrorists known as The Praetorians. Her only secure contact is the "Sorcerer" (voice of Tim Curry) a faceless man with an English accent who was accessible through the Internet. "That guy's got to be the weirdest guy on the planet" is just one description of this invisible benefactor. Later in the series, the Sorcerer was revealed to be a genius computer hacker described as a "teenager with a bad bleach job." Sorcerer, a.k.a. "Jacob Kresh" (Eric Szmanda) fought the Praetorians because they killed his father.

NICK FRENO: LICENSED TEACHER/WB/1996-98 (Voice over PA) - Estelle Harris, George Costanza's mother on SEINFELD joined the cast in voice only as school secretary Mrs. Fox who was heard over the school's PA system.

OUT OF THIS WORLD/SYN/1987-91 (Voice of Alien) - Once upon a time an Anterian named Troy Ethel Garlund (voice of Burt Reynolds) crash-landed on Earth after being shot down by a warlike alien called Krangle the Skull (Richard Moll). While stranded on Earth, he met and then fell in love with an ice cream parlor waitress named Donna Froelich (Donna Pescow) and soon fathered a baby girl called Evie Garlund (Maureen Flannigan). When Troy repaired his disabled spacecraft, he returned to his home planet, but not before giving his wife a crystal cube to be presented to his daughter on her 13th birthday. The cube which glowed pink and blue was an alien telephone genetically linked to Evie's voice which enabled her to communicate with her distant alien father. Evie (called "Earth Angel" by her dad) soon discovered she had special powers that made her different from her earthly friends including the ability to stop time when she touched her finger tips together (to unfreeze time she placed her palms together); to teleport herself to other places by snapping her fingers; and to rearrange the molecules of an object at will (called "gleeping"). With the guidance of her mother and her plump Uncle Beano Froelich (Joe Alaskey), Evie adjusted to her new found powers. When Evie's mother first tried to tell her daughter about her father's alien background, Evie commented "Like Mr. Lopez from Guatemala?" Although Evie's father could not visit Earth, (he was still fighting a war with an alien race called the Frigians) she was visited by her alien grandfather Zelig (Tom Bosley) who traveled in a spaceship called the Anterias I. On the last episode of the series Troy transported himself to Earth (his wife Donna accidentally transported to Anterius) but he rematerialized in transparent form, so his identity was never revealed to the viewers.

OVER MY DEAD BODY/CBS/1990-91 (Answering Machine Voice) - This crime drama starred the adventures of an obituary writer Nikki Page (Jessica Lundy) who teamed with British crime novelist (Edward Woodward) to solve crime and get ideas for news articles and crime novels. During each episode Nikki's never-seen father left messages on his daughter's answering machines. His messages, coincidentally, predicted her every move.

RHODA/CBS/1974-78 (Carlton the Doorman) - Lurking in the lobby of Rhoda Morgenstern's (Valerie Harper) New York apartment building was Carlton, the vodka-nipping lush of a doorman from the 1970s comedy RHODA. Carlton (Lorenzo Music) was never seen, only heard via the apartment intercom system. Slowwitted, lazy and a moocher, Carlton was described in a CBS network biography: "Early in life Carlton perceived that happiness is achieved by fulfilling one's goals and if one sets them low enough, happiness is assured." Carlton was envisioned by actor Lorenzo Music as a young man in his 20's, blonde, skinny with sloping shoulders, messy hair and droopy eyelids. Once Rhoda's mother (Nancy Walker) remarked upon visiting her daughter, "There's a drunk in the lobby, so you'd better tell the doorman." Rhoda replied "Ma!, That is the doorman!" The only time Carlton appeared was when he carried out a piece of plywood from Rhoda's apartment. (the board was between him and the camera). Although considered a loser by the characters on the series, Carlton was a winner with his numerous fans who were reportedly sent fan club membership cards scented with Ripple Wine. Originally, Lorenzo Music was the pre-production voice of Carlton during rehearsals. When the right actor still had not been found to do the doorman's voice, it was decided that Lorenzo Music get the part. Carlton's most popular saying was a disinterested "Who is it?" every time he initiated a conservation over the intercom. This phrase and others inspired United Artists to produce a 1976 record album with a compilation of "Carltonisms" entitled "Who is it?" An animated cartoon CARLTON YOUR DOORMAN aired May 21, 1980 and featured a first time look at Carlton. Again, Lorenzo Music provided Carlton's voice.

RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE/CBS/NBC/1957-60 (Sam, the operator) - Private detective Richard Diamond (David Janssen), an ex-cop turned private eye, used the Hi Fi Answering Service to field his phone messages (he had a phone in his car) for his private investigation business. Delivering his messages was the sultry, sexy-voiced telephone operator known only as "Sam" who sat next to her switchboard in the service's dimly lit office and answered Mr. D's calls on the fourth ring. Diamond once remarked "Oh that voice! And the only thing I know about her is what she tells me-and that ain't much!" The TV audience generally saw Sam from the waist down. What you could see of Sam was tantalizing (slit skirts, tight blouses and sweaters, a curvaceous 38B torpedo bra silhouette and those Ohhh! so luscious legs). Sexiness aside, Sam proved very helpful on occasion, warning Diamond just in the nick of time of impending dangers. A very young Mary Tyler Moore (1959) was cast as the first "Sam" (she was paid $80 per episode) and later replaced by the equally sexy legs and voice of Roxane Brooks (1959-60). TV Guide magazine featured Moore's legs in a photo shoot called "Sam Models the Latest in Hosiery." Her legs had previously appeared on a TV commercial spot featuring a dancing pack of Old Gold cigarettes.

SING IT AGAIN/CBS/1950-51 (The Phantom Voice) - Before NAME THAT TUNE there was SING IT AGAIN, a musical quiz program where contestants from the studio audience tried to identify songs from only a few notes. The home audience segment featured "The Phantom Voice." The host Dan Seymour (1950-51) & Jan Murray (1951) placed four telephone calls during the program telecast. If the home viewer could identify a famous celebrity's voice, they were awarded a fifty dollar savings bond, and on occasion a possible jackpot of $15,000 was offered.

THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW/CBS/1965-66 (Angel Supervisor) - This supernatural sitcom starred Tom Smothers in the role of a probationary angel (he was lost at sea without his water-wings) who returned to Earth to perform good deeds. He reported back to heaven to a never-seen supervisor named Ralph, (The Temporary Assignment Angel) who contacted Tom by phone.


 

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