Friday, 22 May 2015

Voice Artist John Stephenson Passes On

John Stephenson, who provided the voice for Dr. Benton Quest on the first few episodes of Jonny Quest and Fred Flintstone's boss Mr. Slate on The Flintstones, died on May 15 1015 at the age of 91.

John Stephenson was born on August 9 1923 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He attended  Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin and then studied law at  the University of Wisconsin. During World War II he served in the United States Army Air Forces, as a gunner and radio operator. Following World War II he earned a Master's degree in Speech and Drama from Northwestern University.

John Stephenson made his television debut on an episode of My Little Margie in 1953. During the Fifties he appeared frequently on television, guest starring on such shows as I Led 3 Lives, The Lone Ranger, The Loretta Young Show, Dragnet, Science Fiction Theatre, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Millionaire, Bonanza, Perry Mason, The Real McCoys, and Dobie Gillis. He made his film debut in Day of Triumph in 1954. He was a regular on the shows Treasury Men in Action and People's Choice. During the Fifties he appeared in such films as The Looters (1955), I Died a Thousand Times (1955), Teenage Rebel (1956), The Night Runner (1957), and The Careless Years (1957). He did his first voice work in cartoons as the narrator on the Hanna-Barbera TV series The Ruff & Reddy Show.

The Sixties saw John Stephenson doing primarily voice work. He was the voice of Dr. Benton Quest for the first few episodes of Jonny Quest and the voice of Mr. Slate on The Flintstones and its various sequels and spinoff into the Naughts. He was also the voice of Fancy-Fancy on Top Cat and Blubber Bear on Wacky Races. He also did voice work such cartoons as The Atom Ant Show, The Secret Squirrel Show, Samson and Goliath, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, and The Peter Potamus Show. He was the narrator on the Sixties version of Dragnet and did various voices for the 1966, live action TV show Batman. He guest starred on such shows as The Eleventh Hour, The Bill Dana Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, F Troop, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, and Gomer Pyle: USMC.  He appeared in the film Hellfighters (1968) and Topaz (1969).

In the Seventies John Stephenson did voice work for such cartoons as Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!, Sealab 2020, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, Jeannie, Super Friends, and The Fantastic Four.  He provided the voice of Farmer Arable in the film Charlotte's Web (1973). He guest starred on such TV shows as McMillan & Wife, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Streets of San Francisco, and Lou Grant. He appeared in the film Herbie Rides Again (1974).

In the Eighties Mr. Stephenson did voice work on such cartoons as Inspector Gadget, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Littles, Galaxy High School, InHumanoids, and Bionic Six. Since the Nineties John Stephenson only worked occasionally, such as providing voices for an episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, a video game based on Wacky Races, and, of course, Mr. Slate in various Flintstones projects.

John Stephenson certainly had a talent for voice work. Indeed, he was extremely versatile. No better proof of this can be offered than the fact that the same man was the narrator on the Sixties version of Dragnet, Fancy-Fancy on Top Cat, and Blubber Bear on Wacky Races. Few voice artists could play a hillbilly bear, be an authoritative narrator on a police procedural, and play Fred Flintstone's boss. John Stephenson was just that talented.

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