Monday, May 18, 2015

RIP John Stephenson

RIP John Stephenson

For years, cartoons came and went in the production line at Hanna-Barbera, but John Stephenson was always there, lending his voice to comic and not-so-comic characters.

John Stephenson died last night May 15, 2015 at the age of 91, according to his son Roger. He had been in a care home and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for some time.

He was just as comfortable in front of the camera as in front of a microphone. He has a long list of credits on live-action shows, some in regular roles, and probably a longer list in cartoons. He graduated from radio to television with ease and was the first person who appeared on camera when “I Love Lucy” debuted in 1951 (Stephenson was the commercial pitch-man).

For someone who failed an audition with Hanna-Barbera, he sure had a long career there.

Stephenson had all kinds of roles at the studio but his most famous one is, arguably, Mr. Slate on “The Flintstones.” In the photo above, you see him hovering over Mel Blanc (and blocking Alan Reed) as Joe Barbera goes over the story with the Flintstones’ voice cast (the bald guy in the back is Associate Producer Alan Dinehart).

Stephenson was from Kenosha, about 40 or so miles from Milwaukee, where the Journal felt he was local enough to profile in a feature article published February 13, 1963. This was after his first regular cartoon role as Fancy-Fancy on “Top Cat” had gone into Saturday morning reruns and well before he cropped up on seemingly every “Scooby-Doo” episode as a stumped law enforcement guy or a disguised villain who would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids and... well, you know the line.

STEPHENSON, John (John Winfield Stephenson)
Born: 8/9/1923, Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
Died: 5/15/2015, U.S.A.

John Stephenson’s westerns – actor, voice actor:
The Lone Ranger (TV) – 1954 (Ranger Roy Barnett)
Strange Lady in Town – 1955 (Captain Taggart)
Yancy Derringer (TV) – 1958 (Arthur Travers)
The Restles Gun (TV) – 1958 (Joel Fletcher)
Man Without a Gun (TV) – 1958 (Horn)
Wichita Town (TV) – 1959 (Cavendish)
Bonanza (TV) – 1959 (John Henry)
Frontier Doctor (TV) – 1959 (Clint Forbes)
Mackenzie’s Raiders (TV) – 1959 (Jack Taylor)
Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) – 1960 (Miles Rogers)
Shotgun Slade (TV) – 1961 (Charlie Cummings)
Whispering Smith (TV) – 1961 (Eddie Royce)
F Troop (TV) – 1965 (General Custer)
The Iron Horse (TV) – 1967 (warden)
The Last of the Mohicans (TV) – 1975 [voice of Col. Allen Munro, Delaware Chief]
Davy Crockett on the Mississippi (TV) – 1976 [voice of Sloan, Andrew Jackson, blacksmith]
Daniel Boone (TV) – 1981 [voice of additional characters]

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