Allen Swift (1924-2010) Allen Swift (1924-2010)

Allen Swift (1924-2010)

Gene Deitch just informed us of the passing of his long-time personal friend Allen Swift. Swift (born Ira Stadlen) was best known for voicing numerous cartoon characters including Simon Bar Sinister (in Underdog), Odie on King Leonardo and most of the voices for the 1960’s underwater puppet show Diver Dan. Swift was also well-known for hosting the Popeye cartoon show (September 10, 1956 to September 23, 1960) on WPIX in New York City. Swift did the majority of the voices in Rankin/Bass’s Mad Monster Party, and supplied character voices for the NBC Howdy Doody Show. He was Tooter Turtle and Clint Clobber. He did voices in Richard Williams’ Raggedy Ann and Andy and John Dilworth’s Courage The Cowardly Dog, as well as in Gene Deitch’s 1960-61 group of Tom and Jerry cartoons (especially memorable in Dickie Moe).

In tribute we re-post the Deitch-Pintoff Terrytoon classic Flebus, with all voices by Allen Swift (above) and one of Swift’s Popeye children’s records (as Captain Allen Swift), below.

Gene Deitch writes:

Maxime Stadlen, Allen Swift’s daughter phoned me the terrible news that Allen has died. Allen Swift, who did the voices of Howdy Doody and the other characters, who did all of the voices on PUMP TROUBLE and DEPTH STUDY, which you will soon be showing, and who has been by best personal friend for 58 years, is gone. He was they last of my American buddies. Even though here for 50 years, hardly a year went by without a visit to his 54th Street apartment, nor a day go by without email and most recently Skype visits. It’s a devastating loss. I felt something awful must be happening, because just as the Howdy Doody film was about to go online, I was unable to reach him or his wife or anyone in his family. This even is something we have been talking about for the past few months and weeks, as the story of the film’s recovery evolved. I’m crushed. We were both born in 1924, thus just a few months difference in age, but Allen has been suffering with a series of health calamities for several years, since he fell and broke his hip while walking his dog. From that moment, one thing led to another…

And now, “the man of a thousand voices” who used many, many of them in my films, is silenced. To further the pain, no planes are flying from Europe, and the airports are jammed with people waiting in vain to go where they need to go. So, I must grieve from here…

We grieve with you Gene. We lost one of the greats today.

  • One of the amazing things about Allen Swift was he was one of the first people not really associated with The Golden Days of Age to become a hugely in-demand commercial announcer in the 1950s. The list of big-name products which got the Swift sell is incredible. He seems to have been the go-to guy for every New York agency.

    A YouTube search will come up with a handful of his commercial portfolio.

    His Simon Bar Sinister voice wasn’t a funny villain like so many others. He was pure evil. Absolutely perfect.

  • Christopher Cook

    I’ll always remember Allan as the voice of Odie Cologne and Itchy Brother on “King Leonardo And His Short Subjects.” He gave Odie a voice of heroic nobility and Itchy the Maynard G. Krebs tone of irrationality.

  • Robert Schaad

    Very talented. The voices in Flebus are great…as is Clint Clobber’s voice. Sad news…RIP, Allen.

  • Aww…S’long, Allen. You were great as Clint Clobber, Simon Bar Sinister, and others…

  • Brian Gari

    was a childhood hero but real nasty and unfriendly when I spoke to him last year

  • Anthony D.

    I had no idea he just died. I thought he dies a long time ago. RIP Allen. :(

  • I saw him in a couple Chekhov plays at the McCarter Theatre in New Jersey – THE THREE SISTERS (1991) and THE CHERRY ORCHARD (2000).
    At the first play, I read his Playbill bio which mentioned his cartoon credits, then sat down to watch him play the old Russian councilman Ferapont. I couldn’t place the accent he was using… then during Act Two it suddenly hit me: “That’s Grandpa Stroehmann!”
    Here’s a Stroehmann’s commercial – is that Allen as Grandpa? Sure sounds like him…

  • Allen Swift was Tooter the Turtle..”And under this tree there’s a a lizard, Mister Lizard the Wizard!”

  • Dear Jerry,

    A sad loss..luckily we still have the cartoons and tv commercials

    that Mr.Swift did vo’s for.

  • When I was eight, Captain Allen Swift and the Popeye show was the high point of my day! Sad news…

  • Ken Layton

    Allen also did several comedy records for MAD magazine. You know, those flexible vinyl ones you tore out of the magazine. Then you had to lay a quarter on the “record” so it would not slip on the turntable.

  • Allen wasn’t doing too well when I interviewed him for my “Total TeleVision” book, but I was glad to have spoken to him.

    It was annoying at the time I contacted him (January 2008) that Wikipedia had already claimed that he had died. At least we got two more years out of a wonderful voice artist!


  • Depressed to hear this. It sort of just struck me without warning. He will be remembered as one of the best.

  • Bob

    Didn’t Allen Swift also do the voices of Gaston Le Crayon and John Doormat, two other Gene Deitch-era Terrytoons characters?

  • Howard Luloff

    Allen Swift was one of the most prolific cartoon voice actors of all time, bring characters such as Simon Bar Sinister and Odie Cologne to life. Another great voice has been silenced. May he rest in peace.

  • Paul

    Allen Swift was only a passing acquaintance from the occasional age-irrelevant vo audition, but he is on a very short list of voice actors whose talent was greatly respected by impressionable young actors trying to support a theatre habit with commercial work. It was genuinely inspiring to run into pros like Swift, Henry Morgan, Sandy Becker, Lloyd Moss, Bob Kaliban, Harry Goz and others. and learn what they already knew – over time, work will go to those who are not just talented and inspired, but to those who also define the term “professional” in so many ways.
    Ken Roberts, Jackson Beck, Allen Swift et al – Many Thanks

  • Barry I. Grauman

    Allen was also a talented impressionist as well. He used that gift to “channel” the voices of most of his ’60s cartoon characters. What was “Simon Barsinister” was actually his take on Lionel Barrymore’s “Dr. Gillespie”. Same with “Odie Cologne” [“Ronald Colman”]. “Riff Raff”? “Sheldon Leonard” as a gangster. Like Daws Butler and Paul Frees, Swift knew which “classic voices” to use for his own interpretations….another great talent gone.

  • Barry I. Grauman

    It WAS Swift, Tim. I recognized that same “kindly old professor” voice he once used for several “Underdog” episodes….

  • Scott Gordon

    The silence of this loss will be overwhelming. Allen taught me much and there would have been no “Cinema International” or “Day In The Life Of A Food” without that knowledge. —Scott Gordon, “The Uncle Floyd Show”

  • About noon every day Allen Swift would sit on the edge of my desk at WPIX-TV in the mid 1950’s. I was fresh out of college and working as a PA for the Club House Gang Comedies and the Popeye Show with Capt. Allen followed ours. Week days I would see the bearded Captain in pea coat and Navy cap coming into the studio a little before our show ended. It must have been as least 3 months after I met Allen that I finally asked him what he did at the station, not realizing he was that bearded Captain Allen. I’m afraid he was a bit deflated at the time but never stopped teasing me about the experience over the many years of our friendship. Many a time I would visit he and Lenore in NYC or Long Island and he would tease me about my naivete of that time. I think it was a tribute to his acting ability. I am now in CA and just heard of his passing, and it saddens me. He was a wonderful and talented man and I will miss him greatly.