Mike Pataki, as most people reading this will know, was the voice for John K's George Liquor, and was famous for playing Klingons (above) on the original Star Trek series. Mike recently passed away and last Saturday I went to Mike's memorial service at Valhalla Park in North Hollywood. Valhalla is sort of "The Other Forest Lawn," A lot of early film actors are buried there, including Oliver Hardy. Lots of gangsters, too.
A number of show business friends of Mike spoke, including his buddy Ed Asner, who called him "Wacky Pataki." The speeches were so funny that the service sometimes felt more like a roast.
|I was a little disappointed to see that few of the speakers talked much about Mike's voice work for George Liquor (above). It really is one of the all-time great cartoon voices. George even looks a little like Mike Pataki. He's tightly packed just like Mike, a size five body in a size three skin. |
Somewhere after middle age Mike's voice became gravelly. It probably hurt his ability to get work. Amazingly Mike turned a liability into an asset by developing an absolutely unique delivery style to fit his new voice. John K picked up on it, worked with Mike to refine it, and the rest is history...or would have been had TV executives had the sense to give George his own animated show.
I guess I'm surprised to see that his peers failed to realize the magnitude of what Mike accomplished with George Liquor. It's a layered voice full of nuance and music and Mike's own experience of life. Lots of actors can do Irish policemen, snooty upper-class Englishmen and all that. George-s voice was unique...one of a kind.
|But I don't want to dump on actors. One of the delights of being at the memorial was being surrounded by show people. They really are a breed apart. No matter what the occasion, they're always on, always looking for ways to entertain. |
A couple of them of struck me as being a little crazy, maybe a consequence of devoting themselves so singlemindedly to hope, and to things intuitive. They're like the salesmen famously described by Willie Lohman's wife at the end of "Death of a Salesman." I'm beginning to wonder if that play was really about actors.