What’s Up, Doc: New Two-Part Podcast Explores the Life of Mel Blanc, “The Man of a Thousand Voices”

Mel Blanc in 1978.
Mel Blanc in 1978. / Phil Rudge/Evening Standard/Getty Images

If you haven't heard of Mel Blanc before, you’ve definitely heard him. Nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” Blanc brought countless now-classic cartoons to life by voicing characters like The Flintstones Barney Rubble, The Jetsons’ Mr. Spacely, and many seminal Looney Tunes mainstays, including Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and Daffy Duck.

Twenty Thousand Hertz, a podcast dedicated to exploring some of the world’s most recognizable sounds, just released the first of two episodes that delve into Blanc's life and career, from his beginnings as a musician in Portland, Oregon, to his lasting effects on the animation industry as a whole.

Though Blanc passed away in 1989, the first 28-minute episode is interspersed with sound bites of past interviews and clips from the cartoons themselves, which help showcase just how talented he was. Blanc’s vocal range covered eight octaves, and he estimated that he did about 400 different voices over the course of 5000 cartoons.

Also featured in the episode are interviews with Blanc’s son, Noel; Bob Bergen, a prolific voice actor who sat in on one of Blanc’s recording sessions when he was a teenager; and Debi Derryberry, who has voiced more than 250 animated characters, including Jimmy Neutron, during her decades-long career.

You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And while you’re waiting for part two to drop, feel free to check out past episodes on the music of Seinfeld, the story behind AOL’s “You’ve got mail” sound, and more. Twenty Thousand Hertz is hosted by Dallas Taylor, creative director of sound design and mix studio Defacto Sound.