|Paul Frees [Solomon Hersh Frees]
Stage, Screen, Television, and Radio Actor, Composer, Songwriter, Voiceover Artist, Director, and Author
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, CA
1945 Lux Radio Theatre
1945 Maxwell House coffee Time
1946 Rogue's Gallery
1946 The Whistler
1946 The Casebook Of Gregory Hood
1946 The Alan Young Show
1947 The Voyage Of the Scarlet Queen
1947 Ellery Queen
1948 Studio X
1948 The Player
1948 Your Movietown Radio Theatre
1948 The First Nighter Program
1948 Family Theatre
1948 Let George Do It
1948 The Eternal Light
1948 Jeff Regan, Investigator
1948 NBC University Theatre
1948 The Railroad Hour
1949 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1949 Prowl Car
1949 Screen Director's Playhouse
1949 The Prudential Family Hour Of Stars
1949 Rocky Jordan
1949 Pat Novak For Hire
1949 Special Care Program
1949 Box 13
1949 The Adventures Of Frank Race
1949 The Green Lama
1949 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1949 Four Star Playhouse
1949 The Croupier
1949 California Caravan
1949 Crime Correspondent
1950 A Day In the Life Of Dennis Day
1950 Dangerous Assignment
1950 The Line-Up
1950 Tales Of the Texas Rangers
1950 Presenting Charles Boyer
1950 This Is Your F.B.I.
1950 The Story Of Dr Kildare
1950 The Adventures Of the Saint
1951 Short Story
1951 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1951 Night Beat
1951 The Whisperer
1951 Wild Bill Hickok
1951 Mr Aladdin
1951 Broadway Is My Beat
1951 This Is the story
1951 The Silent Men
1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1952 The Black Book
1952 The Pendleton Story
1952 I Confess
1953 On Stage
1953 Crime Classics
1953 Mr President
1954 That's Rich
1954 The Edgar Bergen Show
1954 Rocky Fortune
1954 Fibber McGee and Molly
1954 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1956 NBC Radio Theatre
1956 You Were There
1956 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1956 Those Young Bryans
1957 CBS Radio Workshop
1957 Heartbeat Theatre
Paul Frees, ca. 1952
Paul Frees, ca. 1949
Paul Frees with one of thousands of alter egos, Ludwig Von Drake, ca. 1953
Paul Frees as Etienne in The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1957)
Paul Frees, ca. 1975
Bust of Paul Frees ''The Man of A Thousand Voices'' circa 1978
Paul Frees in The Shaggy Dog (1978)
|Count the ways to measure Multimedia genius, then double it, and you have Paul Frees. Several famous voice artists have been tagged "The Man of A Thousand Voices." During his ambitious, but brief career, Frank Graham was dubbed the same before his suicide death in 1950. Mel Blanc held that moniker for years. The late, great Don La Fontaine was another worthy recipient. But with all due respect to those other great voice artists, I'm sure all would agree that Paul Frees remains rightful recipient of the tribute. Paul Frees is one of the top ten most memorable, often heard, and hardest working voice talents of the 20th Century.
Chicago-born Frees [birth name, Solomon Hersh Frees], was drafted into the Army during World War II, participating in the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. He was wounded in action and returned stateside for rest and recovery for just over a year. Upon obtaining his discharge, he began taking classes at The Chouinard Art Institute in downtown Los Angeles under his G.I. Bill. But his studies were curtailed when his first wife's failing health forced him to drop out and try his hand at Radio work.
He appeared frequently on the A-List Radio programs of the 1940s, including Lux Radio Theatre, Rogue's Gallery, The Whistler, Suspense, Escape radio series, including Escape, Ellery Queen, The First Nighter, Family Theatre, and NBC University Theatre. His first solo outing was as The Player (1948) with Frees both narrating and playing all of the parts. He alternated with William Conrad as the 'voice' of Suspense. His second solo outing was as Jethro Dumont in The Green Lama (1949), a summer replacement program. He followed that with a starring role in Crime Correspondent (1949). He also starred in The Croupier (1949).
Frees' contribution to radio noir was a perfect match for his range of voices. He appeared regularly in most of the detective genre dramas of the 1940s. Throughout the 1950s he was heard voicing regular or recurring roles in Gunsmoke (1953), Crime Classics (1953), This Is Your FBI (1950), and two prestigious network classics, Hallmark Hall of Fame (1954) and CBS Radio Workshop (1957). Frees' radiography in the RadioGOLDIndex is one of the longest in its database. But Radio was only the tip of the iceberg in Frees' storied career.
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) cites over 370 entries for him, in Film, Television, and Animation. A college study once determined that so ubiquitous was Paul Frees voicework during the 1960s and 1970s, that there was literally not one day of Television or Radio during that period in which Paul Frees' voice was not heard.
Frees spent much of the second half of his career working with an unprecedented nine of the major animation production companies of the 20th century: Walt Disney Studios, Walter Lantz Studios, UPA, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, MGM Studios, DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, Jay Ward Productions and Rankin/Bass. His work with the Walt Disney Studios led to a long collaboration with them, from voicing animated characters to recordings that brought some of the most compelling attractions at both Disneyland and Disney World to life.
His long association with Jay Ward Productions is most remembered for his narration of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, with William Conrad, and performing the voice of Boris Badenov, and multiple other characters. Accompanied by famous female voice talent, June Foray, their voices formed the very core of most of the Rocky and Bullwinkle episodes.
There is simply not enough space in this format to adequately recount Frees' body of work. Fortunately the vast majority of his work is still available through Golden Age Radio and Television recordings. Frees passed away unexpectedly in 1986, at his palacial Tiburon home overlooking San Francisco--from a massive heart failure. He requested that his ashes be scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
Anyone knowledgeable of 20th Century mass communications would unquestionably cite Paul Frees as one of the top ten voices over any medium from the era, perhaps even one of the top five. We'd certainly have to concur with either assessment.