Tuesday, December 20, 2016

RIP Gordon Hunt

News From Me
By Mark Evanier
December 20, 2016

Every actor, producer or writer who ever knew or worked with Gordon Hunt is tonight mourning the loss of a very good and gifted man. Gordon did many things but he was, first and foremost, a director. He directed hundreds of plays, mostly in and around Los Angeles, and for a long time was the Voice Director at Hanna-Barbera.

Before they hired Gordon, they'd had several Voice Directors who hadn't worked out and when there was no one in that job, the producers of the various shows would direct…with mixed results. Among other problems with the latter situation was that no one was in charge of scouting or auditioning new talent for the studio. When Gordon was brought in, he instantly brought order to chaos and new actors into Hanna-Barbera. He tapped into the local pool from improv groups and theatrical productions and now there's a long, long list of voice actors who owe Gordon for "discovering" them.

I remember him as a very patient man who understood performers, how to talk to them and what it takes to get the best from them. When I got my chance to voice direct, I drew on two sources to guide me in how it should be done. I had been in recording sessions with directors other than Gordon. I did nothing that they did. I had also been in recording sessions with Gordon. I did everything that he did..or at least, I tried to. I am not, I swear to you, exaggerating.

I watched him direct old pros like Mel Blanc and Daws Butler and strike just the perfect note of correcting them without disrespecting them. I watched him direct children and coax them into fine performances without scolding or making them feel bad when it took five takes to get a line right. (One of many things I learned from him: Once an actor is uncomfortable or feeling like they're screwing up, you're going to be there all night doing it over and over. So better to never make them feel that way.)

I watched him once directing an actor who was belligerent and hostile. It was not because of anything Gordon had done but the actor, who was upset about the "deal" for his services, kept snapping at Gordon, who'd had nothing to do with the negotiations. Gordon kept his cool and, when the angry actor began turning on other performers in the session, drew his fire and kept things as comfortable as they could be. The session finished on-time and the work was fine. What Gordon had done was to remain a Grown-Up at all times.

As I said, he directed a lot of local plays. I went to a lot of them and every one I saw was first rate. He was rightly proud of all of his work but he was proudest of his daughter, the popular actress Helen Hunt. And vice-versa. I said this a few paragraphs ago but it bears repeating: He was a very good and gifted man.

HUNT, Gordon (Gordon Edwynn Hunt)
Born: 4/26/1929, Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.A.
Died: 12/19/2016, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Gordon Hunt’s westerns – director:
Lucky Luke: The Daltons on the Loose (1983) [English voice director]
The Good, the Bad, and the Huckleberry Hound – 1988 [recording director]

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