Paul Frees autograph
Paul Frees' autograph from 1974

I can still love a characterization, however, even if the actor's natural voice shines through. What I really admire, in this case, is versatility. Paul Frees was not as versatile as Daws Butler, whose repertoire was absolutely staggering! Butler could do high voices, cute voices, mean, evil, rough, gruff voices and all kinds of "off the wall" voices in between these two ends of the spectrum. Frees could not do voices of a very high pitch. Perhaps the highest voice, that he ever did, was that of the Pillsbury Doughboy.

June Foray, though not quite as flexible as Daws Butler (like most women, she cannot do really low, low voices) still possesses a higher caliber of character voices, than Frees, due to the incredible difference in some of her characters (for example: Rocky versus evil witches or old ladies...........her jaded, shrewish, grouchy females versus her little girls and her damsels in distress).

Though you can sort of hear Paul Frees, in his Sydney Greenstreet imitation, I still like that voice, very much, because it was so very different from a lot of his characters. That is another one of my yardsticks, vis vis placing a voice on the pedestal of greatness and ingenuity: the voice must be unique, in comparison to the rest of one's vocal ensemble. In all honesty, however, uniqueness, alone, is not enough for me. The voice needs to also be funny (or at least interesting to listen to). If an animated voice has both of these qualities, it is not so important, to me, if the actor's natural voice shines through.

At any rate, I say, with total conviction, that if all of Frees' voices were as terrific, and unique, as his Ed Wynn and Sydney Greenstreet voices, he would likely be equal, in my mind, to Daws and June. Naturally Boris Badenov, Morocco Mole (a Peter Lorre sound-alike in the cartoon, Secret Squirrel), and Dudley Do-Right's boss, Inspector Fenwick (a Canadian character with a British accent) were wonderful voices........but I can hear Frees' distinctive voice in every single one of them. In addition, none of them are that big of a stretch (it's not too hard to picture the same man doing all of them). This is just my opinion, of course. I know that, if Paul Frees were still alive, he could run vocal circles around me, regarding my own talent to do characterizations (but then that's why he was the voice man and I am not).

But let's move beyond what Frees was not and focus on what he was (always keeping in mind that I do appreciate some of his characterizations). Ironically, as incredible and wonderful a choice as Paul was, for the narrator in many of Jay Ward's cartoons, he was actually not Jay Ward and Bill Scott's first pick. They wanted William Conrad to do just about all of the narrations in their animated shows. Giving credit, where credit is due, I will say that, this piece of information did not come from Paul Frees, nor from miscellaneous squibs that I read here and there. I learned this fact when I read Keith Scott's book, The Moose That Roared.

Conrad narrated the Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes. They also wanted Conrad for Hoppity Hooper, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, Super Chicken and Tom Slick. He actually did narrate a few episodes of Hoppity Hooper and Dudley Do-Right, but not many. He did none of the narration work on George of the Jungle, Super Chicken and Tom Slick; those shows were narrated exclusively by Frees.

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