Voice of Aquaman, Norman Alden, Character Actor for 50 Years Dies

The first celebrity I ever met was an actress called Judy Strangis. It was at Universal Studios in California in the mid 70’s. I watched her on a TV series called “Room 222” and had seen her in a few TV appearances of “Batman.” During these shows she worked alongside Julie Newmar who played the slinky, conniving Catwoman. Electra Woman and Dyna GirlWhen I met Ms. Strangis she was working on “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl”, a children’s Saturday morning program. In this female version of Batman, the women donned outfits with capes and battled a bevy of costumed villains. They operated out of the secret Electrabase, which was headed by Frank Heflin. Heflin designed and built the heroines’ sophisticated equipment, and he helped them track down the bad guy of the week using the mysterious, high tech gadgetry that also gave them their special powers. Heflin was played by Norman Alden, a character actor who had parts in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

Norman Alden has taken his final taxi at 87.

Alden entertained me – and countless other children – for many years. I was an avid Justice League of America comic book fan so when the cartoon “Super Friends” came out in 1972, I was jazzed to see some of my favorite heroes every Saturday morning. Alden was the voice of several characters on the show but is perhaps best known as the voice of Aquaman.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Alden got his start on “The Bob Cummings Show” in 1957 and appeared in hundreds of TV series episodes, including ” Rugrats,” “Honey West,” “Fay,” “My Three Sons,” “Bonanza” “My Favorite Martian,” “The Big Valley,” Lassie,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Hogan’s Heroes ,” “The Rookies,” “Adam-12,” “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,” “Combat!,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “JAG” and “Rango” where he had a recurring role as Capt. Horton.Norman Alden In the mid 1970s, he starred in episodes of the comedy TV soap opera parody “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” until his character Coach Leroy Fedders drowned in a bowl of soup. I recall him being in the 1960s television series “Batman,” where he played one of the Joker’s henchmen.

One of my favorite Disney films is “The Sword in the Stone” (1963). In the movie, Alden voiced Sir Kay, King Arthur’s brother. He played Johnny Ringo in 1961’s “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” and also had movie roles in “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970), “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” (1977), “Semi-Tough” (1977), “They Live” (1988), “Ed Wood”(1994), “Patch Adams” (1998),”K-Pax” (2001) and in the 1986 animated film “Transformers” where he played the voice of a Kranix, a robot who narrowly escapes destruction by Unicron, voiced by Orson Welles. Many will remember him in 1985’s “Back to the Future” as the owner of the coffee shop who employs future mayor Goldie Wilson. One of the funniest scenes in the movies is his character’s exchange with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) about “Pepsi Free.”

This multi-talented man – and his face and voice – will be sorely missed.

 

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The Puppet Master – Van Snowden

Last night my daughter wanted to watch an older horror movie. Lucky we have streaming video from Netflix and they recently added several in that genre. We ended up watching “Child’s Play”, the movie where the spirit of a murderer takes over a kid’s toy doll and goes on a killing spree. The movie worked because the little doll, Chucky, looked real and alive. This was all done by puppetry of Van Snowden.

One of Hollywood’s most sought after puppeteers, Van Snowden has taken his Final Taxi at age 71.

If you grew up watching any of the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning TV shows then you have seen his work. Staring out as a puppeteer on H.R. Pufnstuf, Snowden played the mayoral dragon for several year.Later he also worked in “Sigmund & the Sea Monsters,” “Lidsville,””The Bugaloos,”” The Krofft Supershow,” and my favorite “Land of the Lost.”

Snowden was asked by Paul Rueben ( aka Pee Wee Herman) to be lead puppeteer on his show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.”

He worked a great deal in horror movies in places where you would not know puppets were used. Many times it was rats, lizards, bats or squid tentacles. In fact Snowden was the one responsible for the movements of the Crypt Keeper in the TV horror anthology “Tales From the Crypt.”

Some of Snowden’s film work includes “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991), “BeetleJuice” (1988), “Bram Stroker’s Dracula” (1992), “Alien:Resurrection” (1997), “Starship Troopers” (1997) and “The XFiles” (1998).