In writing Voice Lessons, voice actor Rob Paulsen writes about his battle with throat cancer in addition to sharing memories throughout his life and career.
Yakko from Animaniacs. Pinky from Pinky and the Brain. Raphael from the original animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. These are but a few of the many characters that Rob Paulsen has helped bring to life. In his memoir, he writes about what led him to obtain these various jobs.
If there’s one part of the book that really got to me, it’s Paulsen’s interaction with Mr. Rogers at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 1999. Paulsen writes:
I was standing backstage, waiting to go speak to the press about my little Emmy, when I found a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Fred Rogers. The day was becoming more surreal by the minute. I believe he probably did this to everybody, but he took my hand with two of his. He looked me right in the eye, and he said, “Young man”–I was forty-three at the time–congratulations. Your parents must be so proud of you.”
If you’re not emotional while reading this excerpt, I don’t know what to tell you. Here’s how the voice actor responded:
To this day it chokes me up thinking about it. All I could say was, “Thank you so much, Mr. Rogers. I don’t know how to thank you. This means so much to me.”
Paulsen describes their conversation–one or two minutes tops–as being “worth a lifetime of joy and inspiration.”
The interaction with Fred Rogers is just one of many anecdotes shared in the memoir. There are various anecdotes throughout including how the cancer diagnosis came a year before the actor learned that there was an interest in new seasons of Animaniacs. Paulsen was at a dinner meeting in March 2016 with his fellow Animaniacs actors. While the fellow actors knew his health situation at the time, Amblin head of animation Register didn’t know yet. Mind you, the diagnosis a year earlier in 2015. As we know now, a deal was signed in 2018 and Hulu picked up two new seasons of the series. Of course, this doesn’t get into all of the actor’s charity work!
Times can get tough and if there’s something we learn from Rob Paulsen in Voice Lessons, it’s that we must have the inner strength to defeat something even when our physical strength starts to fail us. It also doesn’t hurt that Voice Lessons is a really quick read and comes in just under 200 pages. Believe me when I say that you won’t regret reading it.