Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Answers -- And more questions!

Thanks so much for the outpouring of responses to this.  Turns out this might be fun after all!

The answer to the debut trivia question is that all the names on the list were unseen narrators on popular television series.  "Unseen" is relative, of course.  Some, like Waylon Jennings and Ron Howard, made onscreen cameos on their shows, and Brenda Strong appeared on hers occasionally in flashbacks.  Still, the idea that we were going after "unseen" narrators ruled out series stars who also narrated their shows, such as Zach Braff on Scrubs or Mindy Kaling on The Mindy Project.

Here are the specific answers, plus a little trivia about each AND an additional question for each.  All the answers are at the bottom of this post, so no peeking!  Also, the comments have been enabled.  Say nice things.

Kristen Bell provided the voice of the title character on the recent TV series Gossip Girl. (In the final episode, it was revealed that the "Gossip Girl' blogger was actually a guy, but, whatever.)  Bell is best known for playing the title character in Veronica Mars and is married to actor Dax Shepard of the TV series Parenthood.
Question 1: On the recent final episode of The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Ferguson and many of his most popular guests appeared in a music video set to "Bang Your Drum" by the Scottish group Dead Man Fall.  In the video, most of the celebrities were seen playing drums.  What unusual percussion instrument did Kristen Bell play?

William Conrad is most recognized as the star of action series such as Cannon and Jake & The Fatman, but his distinctive voice could be heard on two popular series of the 1960's:  Rocky and Bullwinkle and The Fugitive.  Conrad's career stretched all the way back to the days of old-time radio, which brings us to...
Question 2:  In 1952, on radio, Conrad was the first to play an iconic fictional character.  Another actor played the role on television for twenty consecutive seasons.  What role did Conrad originate?

Jim Dale provided the narration for the fondly remembered, quirky fantasy series Pushing Daisies.  Dale is probably best known today, certainly by a younger audience, as the narrator of the Harry Potter series on audiobooks.  He won two Grammy Awards for that work.  He was also nominated for five Tony Awards for his stage work.
Question 3:  Featuring such songs as "There is a Sucker Born Ev'ry Minute" and :"Join the Circus", Dale's one Tony Award win was for playing the real-life title character in what 1980 musical?

William Dozier is probably the least-known name on this list, unless you remembered it from the credits of the 60s TV series Batman.  Dozier served as the executive producer for that camp classic, and it was his (uncredited) voice that urged you to tune in tomorrow, "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel".
Question 4:  Dozier also provided the narration for what Batman companion series of the 1960s?

Earl Hamner, Jr is also not known as a performer.  He was a writer whose best-known work, Spencer's Mountain became the basis for the TV series The Waltons.  Hamner based his novel on his own personal experiences.  The character of John-Boy was inspired by his own youthful dreams of being a writer.  And in case I didn't mention, yes, Hamner provided the narration for the series.
Question 5:  In a radical departure from The Waltons, Hamner also provided eight teleplays for what anthology series of the 1960s?

Ron Howard grew from being a child actor to an Oscar-winning director and producer.  The production company he founded, Imagine Entertainment, has been responsible for many quality TV series, including (for our purposes) Arrested Development, for which he contributed the narration.
Question 6:  Everybody remembers little Ronnie Howard as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, and many know that he played Winthrop in the film version of The Music Man.  Around that same time, Howard co-starred with Glenn Ford in a 1963 film that would inspire a TV series of the same name.  What was that film?

Waylon Jennings not only provided the narration for The Dukes of Hazzard (for which he was credited as "The Balladeer"), he also composed and performed the show's theme song.
Question 7: Ruth Moody, Nicky Mehta and Heather Masse are a Canadian folk trio who perform under what unusual name?

Rod Roddy is today probably best known for his years as the announcer on The Price Is Right, but in addition to that and many other game shows to his credit, he also provided the narration to Soap.  ("These are the Tates...and these are the Campbells.")  Producers had originally picked a much better known voice for that role, but Casey Kasem bowed out after the pilot, reportedly because he objected to the racy (by 70s standards) subject matter.
Question 8:  When a game show fan yells "Big Bucks...No Whammies...STOP!", he's referencing what game of the 1980s that featured Roddy as the announcer?

Bob Saget will always be associated with the family sitcom Full House and with his years hosting the family-friendly America's Funniest Home Videos, so it surprises a lot of people that his stand-up comedy tends to be very adult.  Saget provided the voice of the adult Ted, telling the story of How I Met Your Mother to his teenage children.  Meg Ryan was set to provide the voice in a follow-up series called How I Met Your Dad, but that series never got off the ground.
Question 9:  Saget hosted what game show?

Daniel Stern provided the voice of the grown-up Kevin on The Wonder Years.  Stern appeared on camera in many well-known films, including City Slickers, Diner, Breaking Away and the first two Home Alone movies.  But it's his voice work that leads us to...
Question 10:  Stern provided the voice for the title character in an animated TV series based on what popular comic strip?

Brenda Strong played Mary Alice Young, the neighbor whose suicide is the catalyst for the action in the series Desperate Housewives.  She then became the narrator of the series, describing the events on Wisteria Lane from beyond the grave.  She made occasional on-screen appearances in flashbacks and dream scenes.  In the series' final episode, as many deceased characters are shown observing the living, hers is the last face seen.
Question 11:  Strong's first break after college was a small part in what comic's 1984 music video entitled "You Look Marvelous"?

 Walter Winchell was a gossip columnist and radio commentator whose distinctive delivery provided the narration for the crime drama The Untouchables.  Based on the book of the same name, The Untouchables were real-life federal agents fighting crime in 1920s-era Chicago.
Question 12:  In the original series, who starred as Eliot Ness, the leader of The Untouchables?

1. Bell played percussion on her own very pregnant tummy.  Coincidentally, she gave birth to her daughter on the same day that the music video aired on Ferguson's last show.
2. Conrad was the original Marshal Matt Dillon on the radio version of Gunsmoke, the role James Arness would take over in the television version.
3. Dale played P.T. Barnum in the Broadway musical Barnum.  His co-star was a young and not-yet-famous Glenn Close.
4. Dozier contributed his voice to not only Batman but also The Green Hornet, the show which introduced American audiences to martial arts master Bruce Lee.
5. Hamner wrote eight episodes of The Twilight Zone.
6. Howard starred in the film version of The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  In the TV series, his role was played by Brandon Cruz.
7.  Jennings' name was twisted by the Canadian folk trio, who call themselves "The Wailin' Jennys"
8. Roddy was the announcer for Press Your Luck, hosted by Peter Tomarken.  A remake of the show that appeared years later on Game Show Network was simply called Whammy!
9.  Saget hosted the game show 1 vs 100 which, just as its name implied, featured a single contestant competing against a "mob" for a top prize of one million dollars.
10. Stern provided the voice of Scott Adams' famous office drone Dilbert
11.  Strong appeared in Billy Crystal's music video "You Look Marvelous", in which Crystal played his fictionalized version of Fernando Lamas.
12.  Robert Stack played Eliot Ness in the original series.  Stack (along with many other actors known for their straight-faced, serious roles) would lampoon his image in the 1980 film Airplane!, though reportedly, Stack wasn't really in on the joke.


Dennis McClellan said...

Good job, Matt. I'm too embarrassed with my answers. Blew Rod Roddy -- kept thinking of the wrestler, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Keep up the good effort. Any way to get notices of your next blog?

Rick Carter said...

I had figured it out (sort of, I thought they were "uncredited" narrators [uncredited as narrators, anyway], which also sort of implied unseen) -- I had gotten without looking, Conrad, Dozier (yes, i always remembered that name from the credits as a producer or something), Hamner, and Howard. I didn't know which one but I figured one of the other ones HAD to be the 'Wonder Years' guy.

i did worse above, I only got 3 right.

Mark J. said...

Brenda Strong was credited as "and Brenda Strong as Mary Alice" on "Desperate Housewives"' front credit crawl. Rod was credited as "announcer" on "Soap." Dale was an "and" on "Pushing Daisies." And both Howard and Winchell had noticeable narrator credits on their shows.