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Belvision: R.I.P. Dallas McKennon (Voice Actor)

Harrock n roll
#1 · Posted: 20 Jul 2009 01:18
I received an email a few days ago from the daughter of Dallas McKennon, saying that he had passed away this week, just short of his 90th birthday. Dallas was a respected voice artist, well-known in the animation world for providing voices to hundreds of cartoons characters. Dallas was best known for voicing characters such as Gumby, Archie and Buzz Buzzard and also voicing many Disney characters in films such as Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Mary Poppins, Lady and the Tramp, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. One of his lesser-known roles was playing the voice Tintin in several of the Belvision/Larry Harmon animations.

I was privileged to have had contact with Dallas and his family some years ago whilst I was researching about Tintin. I sent them some sound clip samples of the 1960s Belvision/Larry Harmon cartoons and he identified his voice in several of them. They were very polite and helpful and also sent me a nice photo of Dallas, as he looked at the time the cartoons were produced. The cartoons stories which included Dallas's voice were The Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham’s Treasure, The Shooting Star and The Black Island.

Whilst Dallas voiced Tintin (as well as Snowy and a few other characters), Paul Frees – another legend of the voice-over – supplied Captain Haddock and the bulk of the other character’s voices. In a book about Paul Frees (called “Welcome, Foolish Mortals...The Life and Voices of Paul Frees”) Dallas mentions that he and Paul Frees added the voices at a studio called ‘Radio Recorders’ which is where Elvis Presley recorded many of his hits. Dallas also recalls how he fell out with Paul Frees during one Tintin recording session – apparently Frees had quite a legendary ego! – but they got along very well after that.

I hope some of my fellow Tintinologists who enjoyed (or indeed, still enjoy) those old cartoons and hearing his chirpy, cheerful-sounding voice will join me in raising a glass of Loch Lomond (or whatever you happen to be quaffing) to Dallas McKennon, one of the great voices of Tintin.

Dallas McKennon R.I.P.

#2 · Posted: 20 Jul 2009 03:19
Seems like a lot of well-known people are dying nowadays. *Raises imaginary glass of air* To Dallas McKennon.
#3 · Posted: 20 Jul 2009 09:51 · Edited by: jock123
With Paul Frees, Larry Harmon and now Dallas McKennon all departed we have lost all the voices of the Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin - part of my childhood, fallen silent!

As Harrock says, Mr. McKennon (and Mr. Frees) were voice artists at the top of their game; although the Belvision cartoons are often derided now for their less than faithful treatment of both graphic style and plot, it is hard to express the breathless excitement that they added to children’s television in those two channel, black and white only days, and much of that came from the compelling performance of the voice cast.

If truth be told, there was a time when I possibly enjoyed the cartoons more than the books: with the books you could indulge yourself, finding out the next stage of the journey, the next strand of the plot and, of course, the all-important escape from the trap - just by turning a page.

With the cartoons however you were left for a whole 24 hours (72 at a weekend - imagine!) to be drip-fed the next two minutes of adventure (subtracting the 3 minutes of recap and repeat in each episode)! Sometimes the wait was interminable! One of my earliest TV memories is of a metal hatch swinging open on the moon-rocket to reveal - who? Then having to wait to find out!

Simple child that I was, it would not have occurred to me that all this excitement, all the derring-do and adventure, all the goodies and baddies were a single pair of actors, perhaps just occasionally augmented by a third. Thank you, gentlemen, for all that fun!
#4 · Posted: 17 Sep 2009 21:03
A belated link to another obituary for Dallas McKennon.
I thought it worth pointing out not least because doombuggies.com is a fascinating site (devoted to the appreciation of Disney’s haunted-house theme-park dark-rides), but more because the voice-track for the Haunted Mansion ride is another example of Paul Frees and Mr. McKennon working together.

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