Stan Freberg, Who Had Record-Breaking 69-Year Voice Acting Career, Dies at 88

Stan Freberg working on "Time For Beany," 1950. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Allan Grant/© LIFE Magazine)

Stan Freberg working on “Time for Beany,” 1950. Click to enlarge. (Photo: Allan Grant/© LIFE Magazine)

Stan Freberg wore so many different hats throughout his career that he may as well have been a hat-maker. Satirist, songwriter, comedian, commercial producer, recording artist, actor, puppeteer, and voice artist only scratch the surface.

Freberg passed away yesterday at the age of 88 in Santa Monica, California. The New York Times offers a comprehensive obituary and TV writer and longtime friend Mark Evanier has written a remembrance. An influential comedy icon, Freberg counted among his fans not just artists who followed directly in his footsteps, like “Weird Al” Yankovic and SpongeBob Squarepants voice Tom Kenny, but creative people as diverse as Paul McCartney, Stephen King, Anthony Hopkins, and David Mamet.

Most news outlets will acknowledge Freberg’s body of work as a satirist and ad-man (he played a significant role in popularizing the funny commercial), but this being Cartoon Brew, we’re going to celebrate his work as a voice actor and his collaborations with animation artists. Freberg recorded cartoon voices for 69 years, giving him quite possibly the longest recording career of any voice actor who has ever worked in animation.

Here’s a “gallery” of Freberg’s voice acting work:

1947: Republic Pictures’s It’s a Grand Old Nag

1949: The narrator of Big Tim, a UPA industrial for Timken Roller Bearing Company

1949: Stan Freberg recounts working on animation director Bob Clampett’s TV puppet show Time For Beany (1949)

1951: Junyer Bear in Warner Bros.’ A Bear for Punishment

1952: Pete Puma in Warner Bros.’ Rabbit’s Kin

1955: Beaver in Disney’s Lady and The Tramp

ca. 1955: DeSoto spot animated by Playhouse Pictures

ca. 1956: Snowdrift spot animated by Quartet Films, based on Freberg’s comedy record “John and Marsha”

1957: Warner Bros.’ Three Little Bops

ca. 1959: Butter-Nut coffee spot animated by Fine Arts Films

ca. 1960: Cheerios commerical animated by Quartet Films

1962: “Sale of Manhattan,” an animated segment directed by Fred Crippen and designed by Saul Bass & Art Goodman from Stan Freberg Presents The Chun King Chow Mein Hour: Salute to the Chinese New Year (1962). Soundtrack is from Freberg’s album “Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America”.

1965: The Calypso Singer by Paul Glickman, using Freberg’s track “Banana Boat (Day-O),” a parody of Harry Belafonte’s song.

1987: Skip Binsford in Family Dog

1995: Mo-Ron in Freakazoid!

  • Lauren

    A diamond in the rough for sure! I was glad that I learned about him before he passed away. Back in 2008 he was described as being the only living cast member of “Lady & the Tramp”. I loved how he liked to show everybody how he did his signature whistling voice too.

    And how can you not love Pete Puma? Rest in peace sir and I hope you get your recognition at upcoming Award shows.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    Stan Freberg was absolutely amazing–I especially liked his voice chemistry between Mel Blanc in a lot of Warner Brothers shorts such as the two playing off one another as Hubie (Blanc) and Bertie (Freberg) Spike/Alf (Blanc) and Chester (Freberg), The Goofy Gophers (I think Blanc was Mac and Freberg was Tosh) or of course Bugs Bunny and Pete Puma. Just a shame that he often went uncredited.

    “The Three Little Bops” was the one short that actually gave him credit as he voiced practically everyone in it and was amazing.

    Of course, his Junyer Bear and Pete Puma voices are absolutely memorable and hilarious.

    Well, rest in peace, Freberg.

  • Justin CartoonSmart

    Sheesh aside from it being black and white, that photo looks like it was taken yesterday.

  • Darrell

    The only conversation I was ever able to have with Stan Freberg, I remember he mentioned how surprised he always was at Pete Puma’s popularity among Warner Bros. cartoon fans. He said he didn’t consider Pete an important part of his work because he was simply imitating someone else’s voice. That of a comedian named Frank Fontaine, who used that voice for his “Crazy Guggenheim” character.

    • Bobby Bickert

      Daws Butler also did a “Crazy Guggenheim” voice, for UPA and Lantz.

  • R. I.

    I think it was Mark Evanier (who worked with and idolized Stan) who said that Freberg was slated to mimic FDR in a Warner cartoon called “For He’s a Jolly Good Fala” about the president’s dog, but production was canceled when Roosevelt died, and some of its gags were reused in another cartoon.

    Love that photo of young Stan with the Cecil puppet! Especially the jury-rigged microphone setup; there were no lavaliere mics back then!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That cartoon became “Fresh Airedale” I think.

  • Richard Canipe

    R.I.P. Stan Freberg

  • Tony

    I first remember seeing Freberg’s name as the narrator of The Wuzzles, but I was enjoying his other work before then without even knowing it. Hopefully he is reunited with Bob, Chuck and Mel and are remeniscing about the good old days.

  • James Madison

    So sad. Great, great and memorable talent. RIP Mr. Freberg.

  • Ronnie

    Uhhh… He was Mo-Ron!