The Kathy Gori Interview

Kathy Gori

How did you start out with Hanna Barbera?

I got involved in the cartoon industry when I was 20 years old. I was doing a radio program in San Francisco. I was also doing a lot of radio commercials at the time but no animated work (which was all done out of LA) then boyfriend and I flew down there for the day. I found myself in a pay phone booth across the street from Hanna Barbera studios. I called them up said that a person (whose name I made up) had told me to call for an appointment. When they could find no record of it I was very upset...down from SF for the day...yada yada... They asked me how soon I could get there, I said half an hour, cooled my heels in a booth till then and walked across the street.

Once there I was escorted into Alex Lovey's office, one of their major producers at the time. There was room at the end of a tape they were sending to ABC, an animated TV movie called "Gidget Makes the Wrong Connection". I read for Gidget, flew back to SF and a week later got the call that I'd been cast.

Which cartoon characters have you "voiced"?

I've played Rosemary in "Hong Kong Phooey", various and sundry characters in "Hong Kong Phooey"... the 4 cast members basically were EVERYBODY on that show. I was Laurie, Inch-Highs' niece in "Inch High Private Eye". The teenage ingenue, Katie in "Valley of the Dinosaurs". A bunch of assorted characters on the New Tom and Jerry....that was all at Hanna Barbera.... At DePatie-Freiling, I was one of the leads in "Bailey's Comets", can't remember my character's name. There was another series I did for them but I can't remember the name of it. I also did a number of animated characters on the first season of Sesame Street, I recorded a number of counting songs.

Which character was your favourite?

My favourite character was Rosemary on Phooey, it was fun playing her and it was so easy to do the voice.

What are your favourite cartoons?

My favourite cartoons right now are "King of the Hill", "The Simpsons" and "Futurama". I also used to love "Beavis and Butthead" (by Mike Judge who also makes "King of the Hill"). I got out of doing cartoon stuff when I started writing for the movies. I've been really busy with that, but recently my agents and manager (all HKP fans as kids) freaked when they realised I was Rosemary and now they've got me back out there doing voice work again.

What was it like working at Hanna Barbera?

HB in the 70's was was a lot smaller than it is now. It's practically a whole city block, a regular movie studio now. Back then anyone could just walk in off the street, now there's a gate and guards. The old front door where we all used to go in has been bricked over. Hanna and Barbera used to roam the halls, everybody knew everybody else. Of course this was after the days of the Flintstones and the Jetsons, stuff I grew up watching, it was very unpretentious.

Now a lot of voice over work is being done by actual movie and TV stars, back then there was a separate world of voice over people. Now when I go to an audition I might be competing for a part with an actress that I've worked with as a's strange.

What was the process involved in giving a cartoon character a voice?

The voices were recorded before the animation was drawn, they were regular recording sessions, as you'd have for a radio commercial. We'd get the scripts the day of the taping. Sometimes a script might be altered by someone, adding a word here and there, but not too much. We never saw the cartoons till they aired, we were shown cells of our characters however. Actually one usually sees the character during the audition process, that way a proper voice can be used.

The Hong Kong Phooey Cast

What were the recording sessions like?

The cartoons were produced on a tight schedule, because of fixed air dates, but the episodes were recorded during the summer before the fall season. We'd do them once or twice a week till they were all done. The sessions themselves were lots of fun, like a party, people kidding around...recording lots of stuff that could NEVER be aired...just for the hell of it. There were snacks, sometimes I'd bake Italian cookies (I'm Italian)..Great fun!

Did you socialise with the other voice over actors in HKP?

In all my shows at Hanna Barbera there was definitely team spirit, we hung out together, I dated Lenny Weinrib (Inch High) for a while. I also went out with a couple of other voice guys I knew and worked with there. People got together on weekends, it was definitely a family.

HKP was slightly different because everyone was so much older than me, I was 22, Scatman, Joey Ross, and Don were all in their 60's or older..not too much in common there..but they were great guys. Scat would bring in his ukulele and play it between takes, Joey would do the filthiest comedy....

When was the last time you saw all the HKP voice over crew together?

The last time I saw the whole HKP cast together was the last day of the last taping, can't remember when that was, but back in the early eighties my husband and I used to run into Joey Ross at an all night deli, Canters in LA, it's a huge hang out here. He died right after that.

Do you enjoy doing cartoon voice overs?

Cartoons have been berry berry good to me. One can make a fortune, the people who do the Simpsons voices get about one million dollars a year apiece. There is a lot of money to be made in animation, which is why so many stars are getting into it. No one cares if you're not wearing make-up, need a face lift or are a few stone over the limit. A great many people who do cartoon voices also do radio programs in Los Angeles.

What are you doing nowadays?

Right now I am a screenwriter, I work with my husband. I've been earning my living by writing since I stopped doing voice work, in fact that's why I stopped doing voice work...too busy. But now that animation is so hot, I've been lured back along with everyone else.

I was doing the morning program on Public Radio here in LA for the last three years, but I left in December because I was too busy with the writing. Now I'm doing a show on the internet, It's streaming audio and video, I'm on Wednesday's from 3 to 4 pm Pacific Time. The program is called "So You Want To Be In Show Business".

My thanks to Kathy for providing this interview. Thanks for providing an insight into the world of Hanna Barbera and for producing that distinctive "hallo, hallo this is Rosemary the telephone operator, the lovely lassie with the classy chassis"(!) Rosemary voice,

Cheers, Mark

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This page was last updated Tuesday 11th July 2000.