Frank moved to California and attended Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California, where he majored in Theatrical Arts. In 1966, he received honors for his performance as the Cowardly Lion in the college's theater production of The Wizard of Oz. During his transition between college and his voice acting career, his first voice-over role was in a commercial for Friskies dog food. The producer's girlfriend informed him of auditioning for Hanna-Barbera during the casting of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! where he initially auditioned for the title character but instead won the role of Fred Jones.
Live action acting career
Welker's first on-camera film role was as a college kid from Rutgers University who befriends Elvis Presley in The Trouble with Girls (1969). His next film role was in the Disney film The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, which starred Kurt Russell. He later co-starred with Don Knotts in Universal's How to Frame a Figg. Welker also appeared in Now You See Him, Now You Don't and Dirty Little Billy.
His on camera television appearances included roles in Love, American Style, The Partridge Family and The Don Knotts Show. He played a prosecutor in the highly acclaimed ABC special The Trial of General Yamashita and as Captain Pace beside Richard Dreyfuss' Yossarian in Paramount Television's pilot Catch-22. He also appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour, Laugh Trax, and as one of the cast members in the special of That Was the Year That Was (1985) with David Frost. In the later show, he appeared alongside Jim Staahl and Howie Mandel.
Frank also played an on-camera role as a voice actor on an episode of Simon & Simon, in The Duck Factory, where he played a rival actor trying to steal the role of Dippy Duck from fellow voice actor Wally Wooster (Don Messick), and he also appeared in the film The Informant!, as Matt Damon's father.
In 1978, Frank Welker appeared on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast to George Burns. While saluting Burns, he showed his abilities as an impressionist by honoring George Burns with the voices of Walter Cronkite, Henry Kissinger, Muhammad Ali, David Frost and Jimmy Carter.
Voice acting career
Welker's first voice role came in 1969, as Fred Jones in the Hanna-Barbera series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!. As of 2002, he is the voice of both Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo. Welker is so closely connected with the character Fred, that any time the character appears in a cartoon (with the exception of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo), he provides the voice.
His next major character voice was for Marvin White in the 1973 series Super Friends (also produced by Hanna-Barbera). He also provided the voice for Marvin's dog, Wonder Dog (which was inspired by Scooby-Doo). That same year, he played Pudge and Gabby on DePatie-Freleng Enterprises' animated series Bailey's Comets. Welker would continue to provide voices for many characters for Hanna-Barbera for several years, which include Jabberjaw, Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, and the Shmoo in The New Fred and Barney Show and its spin-off, The Flintstones Comedy Show. Frank Welker described the voice he used for the Shmoo as "a bubble voice" (one he would later use for Gogo Dodo in Tiny Toon Adventures).
In 1978, he played the title character in Fangface and later in its spin-off, Fangface and Fangpuss, and also voiced Heckle and Jeckle and Quackula in The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle and Droopy in The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Welker became a very busy actor, providing the voice for many popular cartoon characters in multiple shows, including the villainous Doctor Claw in Inspector Gadget (a role that he reprised in 3 Robot Chicken sketches); Mister Mxyzptlk, Darkseid, Kalibak, and various heroes and villains in Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show; various G.I. Joe heroes and villains; Ray Stantz and Slimer in The Real Ghostbusters; the villainous Dr. Jeremiah Surd in The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest; Bubba the Caveduck and some of the Beagle Boys on DuckTales, and Hefty Smurf in The Smurfs. He also provided his voice in the My Little Pony series of 1986.
He also voiced various characters on The Simpsons, such as Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II (He departed from the series in 2002). He provided the voice of Fall Apart Rabbit in the 1993 Disney series Bonkers and other various voices for the series, as well as the voices of Mr. Plotz, Runt, Ralph the Guard, and other characters in Animaniacs, and McWolf the main antagonist to Droopy and his nephew Dripple in Tom and Jerry Kids Show and Droopy, Master Detective.
He also provides the voice (both speaking and non-speaking) of Nibbler in Futurama. He has voiced several characters for Family Guy, including a parody of Fred Jones. He played multiple characters in TaleSpin, and performed vocal effects for the film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Welker performed as voice double for Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and provided voices for The Thing in The Golden Child (1986), Alien Sil in Species (1995), and Malebolgia in Spawn (1997). He has also created the vocal effects for different animals in films, including the monkey Abu in Aladdin, its two sequels, and the television series Aladdin, and Arnold Ziffel|Arnold the Pig in the television film Return to Green Acres. He was also the voice of Totoro from the English version of the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbor Totoro and a variety of animals from Tiny Toon Adventures.
In 2007, Welker became the new voice of Garfield, succeeding the original actor Lorenzo Music, who died in 2001 (Welker and Music had previously worked together in The Real Ghostbusters and the original Garfield and Friends). Welker voiced Garfield in Garfield Gets Real, Garfield's Fun Fest, Garfield's Pet Force, and also in the new series The Garfield Show, which has been running from 2008 to present.
Welker has also provided voices for many video game characters, including Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and The Shadow Blot in Epic Mickey and its sequel Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, as well as Zurvan, also called the "Ancient One", on StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. He also did the voice of Xzar, a mad mage from the video game series Baldur's Gate.
Welker provided the voice of Batman in a Scooby-Doo crossover segment of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode, "Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!". In the same episode, he also voiced the Mad Magazine counterpart of Batman, Batboy.
More of his work includes performing the voice of George in the popular children's series Curious George. He has also performed for the live action film Mr. Popper's Penguins. He voiced Wikipedia:Gargamel's cat Azrael in Sony Pictures Animation's live action/animated film versions of The Smurfs.
In the 1980s, Welker voiced many recurring characters in the original Transformers animated series. He voiced several Decepticon, including the leader Megatron, Soundwave, Skywarp, Mixmaster, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage, and Ratbat, as well as Autobot Mirage, Trailbreaker, Chromedome, and Sludge. With the release of The Transformers: The Movie in 1986, he took on the role of the Autobot Wheelie and afterwards, took over the role of Galvatron (which coincidentally was voiced by his Star Trek III castmate Leonard Nimoy).
Welker also returned to two of his Transformers roles when he portrayed Megatron and Soundwave as part of a spoof in a third season episode of Robot Chicken, which aired shortly after the release of the live action film. In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, he reprised the roles of Soundwave and Ravage, and also provided the voices for Grindor, Devastator, and Reedman. He does not voice Megatron in any of the first three live action films (Hugo Weaving was chosen for the role instead). However, Welker did voice Megatron in the two video games based on the first two films, as well as the theme park attractions at Universal Studios Singapore, Wikipedia:Universal Studios Hollywood, and Universal Studios Florida, Transformers: The Ride.
He voiced Shockwave, Barricade, and Soundwave in the film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Galvatron in Transformers: Age of Extinction, adding to his already large list of roles within the Transformers franchise.
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