Today is Fran Drescher’s 56th birthday. What do you think of when someone mentions Fran Drescher? Probably The Nanny, but in addition to that you probably hear certain sounds in your head. Those sounds being Fran’s voice saying things like “Oh Mr. Sheffield!” or just doing that whiny laugh of hers. That’s because Fran’s raspy, borderline-grating voice has become just as famous as she is. In fact, it might be more famous than she is. Her voice is like the more famous person in a celebrity relationship. So her voice is like the Avril Lavigne to Fran’s Chad Kroeger. Or something.
Fran’s birthday got me thinking about other celebrities whose voices are more famous than they are. The kinds of people who are constantly being imitated. The ones who do voiceovers and play animated characters because their voices are so distinctive. They’re the kinds of people where, if you forget their name and are trying to describe them to someone, you go, “You know, the one with the voice.” Their voices become that thing they’ll always be associated with, like how every interviewer ever will ask Daniel Radcliffe what it was like to go from playing Harry Potter to whatever he’s promoting. It can’t be escaped. So let’s look at 12 other celebrities whose voices constantly upstage them.
1. Morgan Freeman
If God exists, he/she sounds just like Morgan Freeman. Yes, even if God is a woman, she has Morgan Freeman’s voice. You know it’s true. It helps that Morgan Freeman actually played God. He also narrated adorable penguins and has inspired countless delightful impressions. You know why? Because there’s wisdom in that voice, just like there is in his characters.
2. Jennifer Tilly
Jennifer Tilly says she’s been mistaken for a kid on the phone before, and that’s because she has a bit of a Tommy Pickles vibe going for her. And yet she also uses that voice to her advantage in sexy roles. Is Jennifer the epitome of the sexy baby voice? Either way, I can’t hear her without thinking of Bonnie Swanson on Family Guy.
3. Christopher Walken
It’s gotten to the point where so many people do impressions of Christopher Walken I’m not totally sure what his actual voice even sounds like. It’s been twisted and exaggerated like a weird game of impression telephone, and when I hear him now it sounds like a caricature.
4. Wanda Sykes
Wanda’s voice makes Ellen laugh, and that’s really all you need to know. But it’s also pretty easy to recognize that the lady talking about how good Gain detergent smells is Wanda. I just want to hang out with her and do laundry.
5. Harvey Fierstein
I remember being a kid in the ’90s and hearing Harvey Fierstein talk to Robin Williams about turning into Mrs. Doubtfire and thinking, “Whoa, a human person has a voice like that?” Harvey’s taken his signature rasp to Broadway and in movies like Mulan. “Say goodbye to those who knew me!”
6. Patrick Warburton
Puddy. Kronk. Joe Swanson. I am very attracted to both Patrick and his voice. It’s iconic and I love it. When I hear his name or see him all that goes through my mind is “That voice, that voice, that voice.”
7. Kathleen Turner
Kathleen Turner’s deep, husky voice contributed to making Jessica Rabbit one of the most inappropriate-for-a-kids-movie characters in cinema history. Seriously, I watch those clips now and I can’t believe I was allowed to watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit? as a kid. Remember, she’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way. She’s also drawn with humongous knockers.
8. James Earl Jones
If God doesn’t sound like Morgan Freeman, he/she definitely sounds like James Earl Jones. He’s Darth Vader and Mufasa. I can’t hear him speak without wanting him to say “Luke, I am your father.” And also other things, like “Your mac and cheese is ready” and “30 Rock has come back from the dead.” Mostly things I personally would like to hear anyone say.
9. Seth MacFarlance
Seth’s voice is famous in various incarnations in his cartoons. Brian Griffin is the closest we get to his actual voice. For a while when Family Guy was just starting out people weren’t really aware of what he looked like. Some people weren’t even aware until he hosted the Oscars, as evidenced by all the girls on Twitter who suddenly realized he was hot. Pssh, I knew years ago.
10. Megan Mullally
She became known for that high-pitched Karen Walker voice, and her real voice is still high-pitched though not quite so much. But I can’t help it. When I hear her name I think of that voice.
11. Gilbert Gottfried
Talk about a distinctive voice. He’s played animated characters like Iago in Aladdin and the Aflac duck. Until he was fired for joking about the Japanese earthquake. But he’s still talking in that scream-tone of his in other contexts.
12. Rosie Perez
Nobody can resist Rosie’s lovable Brooklyn accent. It’s just so fantastic. And how many times a year do you think casting directors ask for a “Rosie Perez”-type voice? I’m betting a lot. Maybe they should just hire Rosie Perez.