Way late on this one… Sorry!
Versatile voice actor Allen Swift passed away on April 18 at the age of 87.
Mr. Swift was the voice of such characters as Riff-Raff and Simon Bar-Sinister of UNDERDOG, and Odie Colognie, Itchy Brother, and Tooter the Turtle on KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS.
For more on Allen Swift’s work with these characters, read Mark Arnold’s excellent book “Created and Produced by Total Television Productions”. (Read the book for a lot of other great reasons too! It’s unprecedented in its coverage of this unjustly overlooked studio.)
Swift also, at some point in the series’ run, voiced HOWDY DOODY and other characters on that classic show. Alas, I hardly remember it, and so cannot comment… but I’m certain he excelled at it. He could do no less.
He was a frequent voice on radio commercials that played in New York, as the Vita Herring Maven, and the voice behind Gold’s Horseradish. Surely, so much more that I’m not recalling.
For me, Allen Swift holds two very special places.
He was the FIRST and ORIGINAL host of THE POPEYE SHOW on WPIX in New York. Before the popular “Captain Jack McCarthy”, there was “Captain Allen Swift” to frame the Popeye theatrical cartoons with a “human presence”. In that characterization, he seemed SO OLD, with his grizzled appearance and white beard, that I actually thought he DIED, and was replaced by “Captain Jack!”
The other was his hilarious voicing of Captain Ahab (What was it with Swift and sea captains!), who was in even greater need of serious anger management counseling than was Melville’s original, in the Gene Deitch produced TOM AND JERRY theatrical cartoon “Dicky Moe” (1962), a cartoon yet to be released to DVD.
In and around T&J’s expected shipboard shenanigans, Swift’s Ahab would angrily walk around the decks repeatedly uttering the words “Dicky Moe!”… over and over again, with the anger building to a point at which you thought he would burst into smithereens!
Trust me, it is much funnier than my description could ever convey. Consider that anyone who HAS seen it still remembers it. Especially since TOM AND JERRY, great as it is, was not a series that offered many memorable lines – beyond the occasional horrified gasp and Tom’s exclamations of pain!
But, that’s a testament to Swift’s talents… that he could wring so much out of the repetition of two words!
“Dicky Moe… Dicky Moe… DICKY MOE!”
Why aren’t you on DVD, DICKY MOE!
Rest in Peace, Mr. Swift. Wherever you go, may there be plenty of herring and horseradish… and no sadistic cats, mice, and especially whales!