The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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Tastypotpie

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The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 3:27 pm

What was your reaction to the first time you heard an actor or actress speak?
Like, say, maybe seeing your favorite screen star in one if their talkin' films after years of watching their silent pictures or hearing a recording of their voice.
Did the voice fit with the actors persona or did you go "Is THAT what he/she sounds like?!"

Roscoe Arbuckle, to me, stands in that later category. Years ago I got a dvd of his Vitaphone shorts from someone. I didn't realize he'd sound so...folksy! ...and "Aww, gee Maw!"-ish. Not Hillbillyish in any way..but, I always imagined him being soft spoken.

Also had a similar reaction to Ernest Torrence. But, at the time I didn't know he was Scottish. Imagine my surprise!

Anyone?
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Frederica

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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 4:17 pm

Tastypotpie wrote:What was your reaction to the first time you heard an actor or actress speak?
Like, say, maybe seeing your favorite screen star in one if their talkin' films after years of watching their silent pictures or hearing a recording of their voice.
Did the voice fit with the actors persona or did you go "Is THAT what he/she sounds like?!"

Roscoe Arbuckle, to me, stands in that later category. Years ago I got a dvd of his Vitaphone shorts from someone. I didn't realize he'd sound so...folksy! ...and "Aww, gee Maw!"-ish. Not Hillbillyish in any way..but, I always imagined him being soft spoken.

Also had a similar reaction to Ernest Torrence. But, at the time I didn't know he was Scottish. Imagine my surprise!

Anyone?


Buster Keaton. Didn't expect the foghorn baritone.
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Donald Binks

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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 4:59 pm

Lon Chaney spoke as I had imagined his voice on viewing his silents. Doug Fairbanks was a surprise - I didn't realise he spoke so well. Again John Gilbert had an 'educated' voice - possibly a little out of kilter as to how one would have imagined his voice in his silents. Rudolf Valentino I have only been able to judge from his destruction of "The Kashmiri Song" of Amy Woodford-Finden - he seems to have had a pronounced Italian accent. I was surprised at Buster Keaton's rather guttural voice. I didn't realise Charlie Chaplin's voice was so rather high-pitched. That's all I can think of at the moment.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 6:46 pm

Theda Bara speaks on a 1936 Lux Radio Theatre episode. She sounds veddy veddy cultured and pseudo-British, which I doubt she did in 1914.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 9:30 pm

Brooksie wrote:Theda Bara speaks on a 1936 Lux Radio Theatre episode. She sounds veddy veddy cultured and pseudo-British, which I doubt she did in 1914.


Just like Madonna went from Lower East Side New York to some weird approximation of "British."
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 9:40 pm

Lloyd Hamilton. When I saw his 1932 Sennett two-reeler TOO MANY HIGHBALLS I wasn't prepared for that harsh, ratchety voice. Eventually I got used to it, but I guess I expected more of a George Gobel type.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 9:45 pm

When I first heard Clara Bow, I thought her voice was perfect for her. Her issues with talkies lay with the immobile microphone itself apparently.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 10:02 pm

Theda Bara's voice was a lot more high-pitched than I thought it'd be. I was also taken aback by the voices of Buster Keaton, Roscoe Arbuckle, and Charlie Chaplin. Lon Chaney, Clara Bow, and Lillian Gish all sounded pretty much the way I'd expected them to.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostWed Mar 07, 2012 11:19 pm

I always imagined that Lon Chaney sounded like Walter Long. I found I was right years later when I saw the sound version of THE UNHOLY THREE.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 6:52 am

Janet Gaynor sure had that cutesy girl voice of her appearance.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 9:27 am

westegg wrote:Janet Gaynor sure had that cutesy girl voice of her appearance.


She is the one whom I think "How did she make it in talkies wth that voice?"
I thought she sounded mousy & silly. I prefer her silent.

Buster Keaton's voice was deeper than I had imagined.
Harold Lloyd's voice was a perfect match for his image.

John Gilbert had the overly"affected" speech patern, but his voice was fine.
I thought Clara Bow sounded fine.

El Brendel's sweed accent seems silly at times in the talkies.
Especially after I found he was born in the same city as Janet Gaynor & ME! ....Philadelphia!

When I think "bad voice for talkies", Janet Gaynor comes to mind - and she did well intalkies!
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 10:31 am

When I think "bad voice for talkies", Janet Gaynor comes to mind - and she did well intalkies!


When I think of bad voice for talkies, I think even more of the guy usually standing next to her-----Charles Farrell. I call them "Squeaky and Squeakier" in talkies.

And frankly, I've never thought Harold Lloyd's voice worked that well for him in talkies, a bit high-pictched and nasally, and it made his character come off a bit fussy and eccentric sounding, which may be why I think he's better in talkies like THE CATS PAW and PROFESSOR BEWARE where he's playing oddball nebbishes.

Another actors whose voice doesn't seem to work for him is Rod LaRocque, a flat, nasally tone that is a bit expressionless, and it certainly does not fit for the exotic characters he had played in silents.


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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 10:34 am

I agree about Lon Chaney's voice - I was excited to hear him in the talkie remake of THE UNHOLLY THREE having seen him in so many silents.
I love the silent version of THE CAT AND THE CANARY so I was glad to be able to hear some of the actors in talkies.
Laura La Plante rejoined Forrest Stanley in ARIZONA and Arthur Edmund Carewe in GOD'S GIFT TO WOMEN. Their voices were not a disappointment for me.
As for Carewe, having seen him in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE CAT AND THE CANARY , UNCLE TOM'S CABIN and later in THE TORRENT, I was glad to hear him in CHARLIE CHAN'S SECRET, but by now I've seen him in more talkies than silents ( most notably in THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM ).
Creighton Hale appeared in THE RETURN OF DOCTOR X and CASSABLANCA only for a short time, so I can't say much.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 11:12 am

Richard M Roberts wrote:
When I think "bad voice for talkies", Janet Gaynor comes to mind - and she did well intalkies!


When I think of bad voice for talkies, I think even more of the guy usually standing next to her-----Charles Farrell. I call them "Squeaky and Squeakier" in talkies.

RICHARD M ROBERTS


I like Gaynor's voice. But I had the same reaction the first time I heard Charles Farrell. He and Buster should have traded voices.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 11:56 am

Conrad Veidt sounded exactly like I thought he would, and maybe even more so. Recently, I watched MOROCCO (1930) and thought that Ulrich Haupt was deliberately lowering his voice. I'd like to see UNHOLY GARDEN again because I don't recall his having a deep voice there.
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Stan Laurel's voice matched his character but I wonder if somebody (Hal Roach?) was concerned with Stan's British accent. While I have no idea I have noticed that Stan has little dialogue in his earliest talkies and Hardy seems to do most of the talking. Later, Stan seems more talkative than Ollie, i.e., WAY OUT WEST.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 12:00 pm

Dorothy Gish had such a warm, throaty voice. I don't know why I expected something different, she was on stage for most of her career. A most delightful laugh.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 12:35 pm

Daniel Eagan wrote:
Brooksie wrote:Theda Bara speaks on a 1936 Lux Radio Theatre episode. She sounds veddy veddy cultured and pseudo-British, which I doubt she did in 1914.


Just like Madonna went from Lower East Side New York to some weird approximation of "British."


Actually, Madonna is from suburban Detroit, and attended the University of Michigan before she went to New York. Underneath those put on accents are the hard-R's of a born and bred Midwesterner.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 1:33 pm

Frederica wrote:
Richard M Roberts wrote:
When I think "bad voice for talkies", Janet Gaynor comes to mind - and she did well intalkies!


When I think of bad voice for talkies, I think even more of the guy usually standing next to her-----Charles Farrell. I call them "Squeaky and Squeakier" in talkies.

RICHARD M ROBERTS


I like Gaynor's voice. But I had the same reaction the first time I heard Charles Farrell. He and Buster should have traded voices.


I would describe Charles Farrell's voice as a nasal whine, which, when combined with his New England accent, destroyed the deep-voiced illusion created by his man's man silent persona. Yet he, as well as Gaynor, went on to make quite a few talkies. Farrell even lasted into television, with his role in My Little Margie (1952-55).
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 1:43 pm

bobfells wrote:Stan Laurel's voice matched his character but I wonder if somebody (Hal Roach?) was concerned with Stan's British accent.


You know, when I first started watching Laurel & Hardy when I was a kid I never noticed Stan's British accent and I really still don't.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 1:45 pm

:? Yeah, Farrell's voice was horrible. Harold Lloyd's voice was nothing like I expected. I think Swanson had a pretty good voice when she was younger. Clara Bow maybe didn't sound quite the way I envisioned either, but I think her voice was clearly one of the better ones. I feel that Colleen Moore's voice was quite good. Almost none of the Silent Stars sounded like I expected. Very few. I will need to think about things to be more specific. Ramon Novarro probably comes as close to sounding like I thought that he would as anyone.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 2:53 pm

Ernest Torrence's voice was unexpectedly beautiful and he was on his way to a solid talkie career when he died.

The big surprise of course is little Billy Bletcher and his basso profundo voice.
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Mitch Farish

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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 5:05 pm

Gagman 66 wrote:Clara Bow maybe didn't sound quite the way I envisioned either, but I think her voice was clearly one of the better ones.


Clara's voice was much richer than I had imagined. I guess because of her flapper roles I thought she was going to sound like Betty Boop. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

Stan Laurel's accent was certainly not a cultured London or Cockney accent. To me he sounded like Charles Laughton in Hobson's Choice. So maybe it was a Yorkshire accent?
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 5:36 pm

Richard Barthelmess' gloomy purr was a big jolt but I like it now.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 5:43 pm

I recently heard Priscilla Dean's voice in something called KLONDIKE, her last film sadly, which is available for download at InternetArchive. She would've made a further marital foil for Laurel & Hardy just like she was a fine dramatic actress in silent films.

Poor Florence Vidor had her voice dubbed in CHINATOWN NIGHTS(1929) by a stage actress reportedly talking like she's speaking from the heavens. Vidor then quit films.

Does anyone know what WALLACE REID, BARBARA LAMARR, OLIVE THOMAS sounded like? Im thinking some of our stars who died in the twenties. Valentino making two recordings was fortuitous for those who are his fans. SARAH BERNHARDT left several recordings and she's marvelous. One can understand why she was a great stage star. GABY DESLYS left two recordings as well, so much fun very 'Billie Burkish'.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 5:52 pm

Poor Florence Vidor had her voice dubbed in CHINATOWN NIGHTS(1929) by a stage actress reportedly talking like she's speaking from the heavens. Vidor then quit films.



I don;t know where this urban legend is popping up from. It is obviously Vidor speaking her lines in the film, not dubbing by another actress, which I'm not sure was even something that was technically feasible when CHINATOWN NIGHTS was shot in 1928.


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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 5:55 pm

Rich both Wikipedia and IMDb have her(Florence Vidor) voice being dubbed by Nella Walker
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 6:25 pm

Mitch Farish wrote:
Gagman 66 wrote:Clara Bow maybe didn't sound quite the way I envisioned either, but I think her voice was clearly one of the better ones.


Clara's voice was much richer than I had imagined. I guess because of her flapper roles I thought she was going to sound like Betty Boop. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

Stan Laurel's accent was certainly not a cultured London or Cockney accent. To me he sounded like Charles Laughton in Hobson's Choice. So maybe it was a Yorkshire accent?


Stan Laurel was born in Lancashire (Northwest England) and had a northern accent. He also lived in Glasgow Scotland as a child, but doesn't seem to have picked up a burr.
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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 6:25 pm

Stan Laurel's accent was certainly not a cultured London or Cockney accent. To me he sounded like Charles Laughton in Hobson's Choice. So maybe it was a Yorkshire accent?

Close :) He was actually a Lancashire lad although he didn't really have a very strong accent.
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Richard M Roberts

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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 6:33 pm

sepiatone wrote:Rich both Wikipedia and IMDb have her(Florence Vidor) voice being dubbed by Nella Walker




Ahh, those great bastions of truth and accuracy! And I'll bet whoever wrote those two entries (or parrotted the same entry) never even saw the damn film.


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Re: The first time you heard an actor/actress speak?

PostThu Mar 08, 2012 8:28 pm

The first time I ever heard Chaplin’s voice was during the opening scenes of The Chaplin Revue, when he narrates the documentary footage taken at his studio. He sounds about the way I imagined he would, I guess: a light tenor with a warm, cultivated tone. The first time I saw him on screen delivering dialogue was in The Great Dictator, where we first hear him in the battlefield intro. Playing the barber as an inept soldier he deliberately speaks in a higher pitch, as mousy as possible. The Hynkel speech soon after is quite the contrast; suddenly he’s guttural and harsh, like a growling dog. That film offers Chaplin’s best vocal performance in any of his sound films, I believe.

Keaton’s croak came as no surprise to me; I heard him speak on TV on The Donna Reed Show (and elsewhere) long before I ever saw any of his silent films. Harold Lloyd’s thin voice came as a bit of a jolt, and I agree it worked best when he played milk-toast types -- which, of course, limited his options in talkies. Incidentally, when I saw Professor Beware I kept thinking his voice reminded me of someone else’s, especially when he would yell, and I finally realized: he sounds kind of like Lou Costello. Visually it’s hard to imagine, but close your eyes and you might hear a hint of Lou.

The first time I heard Harry Langdon’s voice was in one of his Educational shorts on TV, and I thought he sounded exactly the way he should. I felt the same way when I saw Ben Turpin in Our Wife: “Yep, that’s him all right!” But Laurel & Hardy’s voices are, for me anyway, so much a part of their comic personas that I “hear” them even when I’m watching one of their silent shorts. They were the luckiest of all the comedians when sound came in. I mean, what are the odds that both men would have voices that perfectly suited their appearances?
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