Anonymous Stars

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Giant 10th Anniversary Bathroom Reader. You've watched them work, you've heard them speak - but you've probably never heard their names. They're the actors inside the gorilla suits, the voices of talking animals, etc. We think they deserve a little credit.

The Voice of E.T.

E.T.'s voice was created by combining the voices of three people, a sea otter, and a dog. But the person who spoke the most famous lines - "E.T. phone home" and "Be good" - was Patricia A. Welsh, a former radio soap opera star who'd only been involved in one other movie (Waterloo, with Robert Taylor, in 1940). By contract, she was forbidden to say her lines (which are copyrighted) even casually in a conversation; Steven Spielberg said he "didn't want kids to get confused about E.T.'s image." Her name isn't even listed in the credits.

Darth Vader

David Prowse [wiki | official site] is a 6'6", 226-pound former heavyweight wrestling champion. George Lucas saw him in A Clockwork Orange and offered him his choice between two parts - Chewbacca or Vader. Prowse chose Vader because he didn't like the idea of going around in a "gorilla suit" for six months. James Earl Jones (Darth Vader's voice), and David Prowse never met.

The "Lost in Space" Robot

Bob May, a stuntman, had a few small parts in a TV series called "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." The producer, Irwin Allen, told May he was the right size for a part in a new TV series and asked if he'd be interested. May said yes; Allen said: "Fine, you have the part, go try on the robot costume." Cast members goofed on May a lot. One time they locked him in the robot suit and left him there during a lunch break. He tried yelling, but no one was around .. So he had a cigarette. Irwin Allen wandered in, saw smoke coming from the robot and thought it was burning up. He went to get a fire extinguisher while May yelled from inside the suit. Later, Allen decided he liked the effect and had May smoke a cigar in the suit for a story about the robot burning out. (Image:

Mister Ed's Voice

When "Mister Ed" [wiki] debuted in 1960, the horse's voice was credited to "an actor who prefers to remain nameless." TV Guide sent a reporter to the studio to figure out who it was. The reporter found a parking space on the "Mister Ed" set assigned to an old 1930s movie cowboy named Alan "Rocky" Lane. Lane admitted it was his voice (he'd been too embarrassed to let people know.) He dubbed Ed's voice off-camera, while the horse was "mouthing the words." A nylon bit concealed in Ed's mouse made him move his lips.


Kenny Baker [wiki | official site], 3'8" tall, was hired simply because he fit into the robot suit. "They made R2-D2 small because Carrie and Mark were small … My agent sent me down. They looked at me and said, "He'll do!" "I thought it was a load of rubbish at first. Then I though, "Well, Alec Guinness is in it; he must know what's going on."

The Voice of the Demon in The Exorcist

Mercedes McCambridge [wiki], an Academy Award-winning actress, was a Catholic. So when she was offered the role, she was uncertain about whether to take it. She consulted Father Walter Hartke at Catholic University, and he approved. In the film, the demon's voice is heard as Linda Blair vomits green gunk. According to one report : "A tube was glued to each side of Blair's face and covered with makeup. Two men knelt on each side of Blair holding a syringe filled with the green stuff, ready to shoot on cue." "McCambridge had to coordinate her sound effects with the action. A prop man lined up a row of Dixie cups in front of her containing apple pieces soaking in water, and some containing whole boiled eggs. McCambridge held the soft apple chunks in her jaws as she swallowed a boiled egg. On cue, in precise coordination with the screen action, she flexed her diaphragm and spewed everything on the microphone… "It was hard," she said. "I sometimes had to lie down after those scenes."
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Giant 10th Anniversary Bathroom Reader, which comes packed with 504 pages of great stories. Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!

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There's some hilarious footage on one of those Discovery channel shows about Star Wars where they show the Darth Vader actor doing his lines without the voice-over from James Earl Jones. It sounds totally wimpy!
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Thanks Charles Ryder and anon - "waterloo" and "Walter Hartke" are both in the original Bathroom Reader article. I'll leave the article as is, with your caveats in the comment section.
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Not mentioned: the Lost in Space robot was another where the performer and voice were separate (like Darth Vader). Bob May was the body; Dick Tufeld was the voice. I don't know why, but Bob May is typically credited as The Robot, but you really have to dig to find out that the voice was a different person altogether.
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