September 2, 2022 posted by Jim Korkis

The Animated Hans Conried

Hans Conreid

Suspended Animation #387

The recent passing of comedian Gilbert Gottfried reminded me that a voice artist doesn’t always need a repertoire of dozens of different voices but just only one highly distinctive voice like Sterling Holloway.

Hans Georg Conried Jr. (April 15, 1917 – January 5, 1982) was a prolific and versatile American character actor who was well known for his classical roles on stage, his decades on radio as well as multiple live action film and television work.

Conried performed in nearly 10,000 radio shows and hundreds of television programs and stage plays, as well as more than 80 films. Over the years, Conried also lent his distinctive voice to numerous animated projects, phonograph records, commercials, and more.

Conried as the title character in “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”

With his patrician accent and lean face, he longed to play Shakespearean roles but was often cast as supercilious types, often poking comedic fun at the character’s haughty pretensions or a character that was vaguely Eastern European or Mediterranean even though Conried was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1950 he was cast as the face and voice of the slave in the Magic Mirror for Walt Disney’s first television Christmas special One Hour in Wonderland (1951) and Walt so enjoyed working with the actor that he approached him to provide the voice for Captain Hook in the upcoming production of Peter Pan (1953).

In 1953, besides appearing as the voice of Captain Hook and Mr. Darling in Peter Pan, he starred in the title role of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, a surreal movie written by Dr. Seuss; was featured in three other movies; and made his Broadway debut as the zany sculptor Boris in Can-Can by Cole Porter.

Conried continued to be the face and the voice of the slave in the Magic Mirror on several of the weekly Disney television shows (Walt Disney Christmas Show 1951, Our Unsung Villains 1956, All About Magic 1957, Magic and Music 1958, and Disneys Greatest Villains 1977).

He also did the voice and live action reference for Thomas Jefferson and a crook in the featurette Ben and Me (1953), the voice of a prosecutor in The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. (1957) and voicing and doing live action reference for King Stefan in Sleeping Beauty (1959) until he was replaced by Taylor Holmes.

As Walt Disney had learned on Cinderella (1950), he could save time and money by shooting a live action version of the storyboard using minimal props, sets and costumes and eliminate much of the trial and error of hand drawn animation. So a live action film was shot for Peter Pan.

Animator Frank Thomas said, “Walt was desperate for money at the time and he said, ‘We’ve got to go the cheapest way to make this picture’. Doing animation over again if it was done wrong was terribly expensive so we had to figure out some way to do it right the first time.

Conried in costume for reference footage as Captain Hook

“By shooting the film in live action, the director and the animator could look at the footage and say, ‘This part is not right; it needs to be faster’ and so on. And if you had good live action to start with, it would make your job a whole lot easier to get some imagination out of it.”

Conried, in full costume, performed on a rudimentary set as both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.

As Conried told writer Leonard Maltin, “Usually, they had pantomimists and or dancers but they felt that I could play the part. Now when I say I worked two and a half years, I don’t say that I worked constantly, but over a period they would say, ‘Have you got two weeks?’ or ‘Have you got four days?’

“I was in costume and they had an elemental set and I would go through the business making my physical action coincide with the sound track, which was already finished. Usually in dubbing which I’ve done for foreign actors, you have to make your sound coincident with his latent action, but here you make your physical action coincident with the sound track.

“That was lots of fun. It was a very friendly, familial surrounding at Disney, particularly in those days.”

Thomas recalled, “I really have to give him an awful lot of credit. During the live action he gave us a real consistency of character. In fact, when he’d put on the outfit, he really became Captain Hook!”

Two-thirds of the way through the filming, actor Henry Brandon noted for playing villainous roles was brought in for two weeks while Conried had commitments elsewhere to film some scenes in Captain Hook’s costume including a few previously done by Conried.

Unfortunately, all he live action film seems to have been destroyed but there are still photos in existence and telltale mannerisms of Conried are evident in both characters he portrayed. Conried used no accent, just his own familiar affected somewhat English accent.

Fillmore, Hoppity Hooper and Professor Waldo Wigglesworth (Conried)

Conried’s most extensive animation work was for Jay Ward. Bill Scott had earlier directed the recording sessions for UPA’s The Boing-Boing Show in 1956 and used Conried to narrate the “Favorite Painters” series.

Ward had always loved Conried’s distinctive voice and the actor had worked previously with many of Ward’s other voice actors. Conried was cast as the melodramatic villain Snidely Whiplash in the Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties cartoon segments of the 1961 Rocky and Bullwinkle television series.

Ward then cast Conried as the live action host of Fractured Flickers (1963) and once again in animated form as con man Waldo P. Wigglesworth in the Hoppity Hooper 1964 syndicated series. He also did some Quisp and Quake commercials as the character Simon LeGreedy who was similar to Snidely Whiplash.

As Conried recalled in a 1970 radio interview, “(The Ward cartoons) were ostensibly tailored for children but we had an awfully good time making them. It’s a very adult humor. Bill Scott, who wrote them, is a brilliant man. And we had more fun than we should have in those recording sessions.”

When I interviewed Scott, he was effusive about how much he loved working with Conried on the Ward shows. Here is a segment from Fractured Flickers featuring both Conried and Bill Scott (as Bullwinkle):

Halloween is Grinch Night (1977) that was later released as Grinch Night and It’s Grinch Night was a half hour television special written by Thedor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel for DePatie-Freleng. It won the 1978 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program.

Dr. Dred on Hanna Barbara’s “Drak Pack” (1982)

It is assumed to be a prequel with the Grinch encouraged by a sour-sweet wind to leave his cave on Halloween night to terrify the citizens of Whoville.

The original voice of the Grinch, Boris Karloff, had passed away so Hans Conried was cast in the role of the Grinch and narrator. Thurl Ravenscroft returned to provide the vocals for the songs.

Drak Pack was a Saturday Morning cartoon series that aired on CBS from September 6 – December 20, 1980. The young descendants of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfman join together as sort of superheroes with the powers of their ancestors.

The Drak Pack’s principal opponent was Dr. Dred, a blue-skinned evil genius voiced by Conried. His evil organization was O.G.R.E. (“The Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises”).

Conried died of cardiovascular disease in 1982. His wife of 40 years, Margaret, was at his side. They had four children: Trilby, Hans 3d, Alexander and Edith.


  • Baltimore has a distinctive city accent; you can hear it in John Waters movies. Don Messick, who grew up there, was told by his first boss that his accent would be an impediment to a career in radio, and he had to work hard to overcome it. So it would appear that Hans Conried’s distinctive voice was the product of sedulous, self-conscious cultivation. Tone, diction, delivery — everything about it was honed to perfection.

    Before his work at Disney, Conried lent his voice to several Walter Lantz cartoons of the 1940s. For example, he narrated the Swing Symphony “Sliphorn King of Polaroo” (1945) and, unusually for this period, even received screen credit.

    “The Questing Beast”, a second season episode of “Lost in Space” from 1967, featured two Jay Ward mainstays: Conried guest-starred as the bumbling knight Sir Sagramonte, who pursues the dragon Gundemar, voiced by June Foray. Snidely Whiplash and Nell Fenwick in the same episode!

    • Conried’s cultivated vocal delivery is not worlds away from that of actor Jonathan Harris, who was actually born in the Bronx of impoverished Russian Jewish immigrants. I love how these guys completely “invented themselves”, and did quite well for themselves too.

      • Not to mention John Hillerman best known as Higgins in Magnum P.I. who was born in Denison, Texas and Vincent Price who was born in St. Louis, Missouri who both sounded somewhat British. I love Hans Conried’s voice and while it is distinctly unique he was able to get quite a lot of variety out of it.

        • Watch “Blazing Saddles” to hear John Hillerman’s real voice.

  • As far as I know, Conried’s first cartoon was The Sliphorn King of Polaroo (1945), for Walter Lantz, with his name appearing on screen.
    He and Alan Reed get this “one voice” knock, but both did an assortment of dialects on radio.

  • Great article. But I must point out two errors that that I have.

    One, the misspelling error of “Unfortunately, all he live action film seems to have been destroyed but there are still photos in existence and telltale mannerisms of Conried are evident in both characters he portrayed.” You could have put Unfortunately, all the live action reference photos seems to have been destroyed but there are still photos in existence and telltale mannerisms of Conried are evident in both characters he portrayed.”

    Another little error I have pointed out that it reads “He also did the voice and live action reference for Thomas Jefferson and a crook in the featurette Ben and Me (1953), the voice of a prosecutor in The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. (1957) and voicing and doing live action reference for King Stefan in Sleeping Beauty (1959) until he was replaced by Taylor Holmes”, you would have rewrite “ He also did the voice and live action reference for Thomas Jefferson and a crook in the short, Ben and Me (1953), the voice of a prosecutor in The Story of Anyburg U.S.A. (1957) and even voicing and doing live action reference for King Stefan in another Disney animated film, Sleeping Beauty (1959), but was himself replaced by Taylor Holmes for the voice role of Stefan for no apparent reason, setting off countless unanswered and made it highly unknown who had really voiced the herald in the same film.” I think that Conried’s own replacement by Taylor Holmes for Stefan probably did more to badly impact the studio because it resulted in unanswered questions (like who had voiced the herald) so we may never know the whole truth – as we connect this incident to the November 24, 1963 murder of John F Kennedy’s accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, by Jack Ruby that also gave rise to numerous unsolved conspiracy theories and unanswered questions.

    Not being rude but they’re two of my issues I have, but nonetheless, you still did a great job making this article.

    Matthew Hedrich

    • Matthew, I never mind being corrected and am always grateful to those who do so because it helps get accurate information out there. I have been doing weekly columns (as well as dozens of special columns) for this website for almost ten years so not everything will be perfect. I am kicking myself today because I forgot to mention that Hans did voice over work for Lantz and I had forgotten until people in the comments reminded me.

      • Oh, but nevertheless you still did a great job in posting the animated career my favorite actor did, regardless of spelling errors. Glad you include all the voice roles he did and his role as King Stefan until his own replacement by Taylor Holmes that made it unknown who voiced the herald.

        Matt Hedrich

    • um, what now?

    • “…I must point out two errors that that I have.” That that?

      Jim, you must be the most gracious man in the world.

  • JFK was assassinated on Friday, November 22, 1963.

  • Hoppity Hooper was an ABC network show that preceded American Bandstand on Saturdays from 1964 to 1967. In 1965 the show, for some reason, did syndicated double duty as Uncle Waldo’s Cartoon Show.

  • Hans Conried had one of the best voices ever. I think his best characters are Captain Hook and Dr. Terwilliker.

  • One more Disney TV credit: In a late-period Disney hour, he played a bigger-than-life wizard introducing Joseph Bottoms to the world of special effects by way of plugging “The Black Hole”. He also voiced the Mathemagician in Chuck Jones’s “The Phantom Tollbooth”.

    Conried’s early B movie appearances included three entries of the Falcon detective series. I recall two: a police artist and a hotel desk clerk. While his young face is readily recognizable, he hadn’t found (or chose not to use) his distinctive “foreign” voice, and it’s a little strange.

    On the commentary to “The Shaggy DA”, JoAnne Worley recalled talking to Conried and expressing surprise that he was American born. He said something to the effect that being foreign paid better.

    • Fine piece and remembrance of Hans Conried.

      DBenson: I well remember that late 1979 Disney show promoting THE BLACK HOLE, with trouper Conried making the most — quite a bit, actually — of fairly weak material. He brought pitch-perfect wit and a certain gravity to the program.

      I reflected that night on the unique range and depth of his work, those many wonderful film and TV characterizations like Uncle Tonoose, Dr. Terwilliker, his music professor in Lewis’ THE PATSY, an old man who believed he was Don Quixote in a “Have Gun – Will Travel” episode, his effective straight role as a scientist in the underrated THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD, the unflappable host of “Fractured Flickers,” and, of course, his fabulous voice work for Disney, Snidely Whiplash and Waldo Wigglesworth for Jay Ward…

      I went to sleep thinking, “this guy has helped make this a better world.”

      A few years later, when I read of his death, I wept.

    • I know Jo Anne Worley as Madam De Garderobe in another Disney film set in France, Beauty and the Beast. Also, I did NOT know that she remembered Conried during the commentary of The Shaggy DA, if I say it correctly. Now that you mentioned her, they work on two Disney films that took place in Vive la France (Sleeping Beauty (Medieval France) for Conried as the model reference of Stefan and provided additional lines; Beauty and the Beast (Rococo France) for Worley as Garderobe).

  • Snidely Whiplash will always be my favorite role of his.

    Not animation, but he was also in a pretty funny episode of I Love Lucy: Lucy Hires an English Tutor.

  • 9/2/22
    RobGems68 Wrote:
    Micky Dolenz once stated in his book “I’m A Believer” that Hans once made a guest appearance on “The Monkee’s” episode from 1967 titled “The Card Carrying Red Shoes” that he tried to work with the boys, but found them uncooperative in behaving professionally on the blooper outtakes with their ad-libbing and funny voices. At one point during a take, Hans got frustrated and yelled at the director “God, I HATE these fucking kids!” Other than that, Hans was still a funny personality, and Uncle Waldo was one of my favorite voices of his from a now-forgotten series from 1962.

    • That episode was “The Monkees’ Paw”.

      • 9/6/22
        RobGems68 Wrote:
        Sorry for the typo. Thanks for clearing that up. I saw the “Monkee’s Paw” episode recently on YouTube, and you were right. I thought the episode was hilarious, especially the “Bunny & A Chicken” gag. (those Rosarch tests you see in Psycharitrist’s offices.) Despite Hans’s use of profane language to swell his temper down in front of a rowdy (then young) rock group, Hans was still funny.

  • Hans Conreid also did voices for MGM cartoons. I only recently learned that he is one of the voices heard in the Hugh Harmon cartoon “Abdul the bulbul amir“, and he is the narrator of the Tom and Jerry cartoon “Johan mouse“.

  • Hans was in the Bell/WB Science series, and did WB cartoons.. I assumed he was Clampett’s Wm.Shakespeare Wolf and H-B’s Montague Gypsum in This is your Lifesaver, a 1961 FLINTSTONES, only to find it was the equally, fiendishly clever Walker Edminston, also a veteran of radio, that played those. Conried’s swan song, ironically, WAS at Hanna-Barbera, in one of their rare great 1980s shows,1982’s Drac Pack, that rare human teen crime solver without a mascot or girls, and based on great Universal Monsters!SJC

  • I believe he was also Jethro’s violin teacher on The Beverly Hillbillies

    • True! I believe that character was based on Jascha Heifetz, the greatest violinist of his generation and a resident of Beverly Hills. After Heifetz died in 1987, his house was bought by actor James Woods, who had it torn down and another built on the property (though the music studio, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was moved to the Colburn School of Music). Conried is as funny as ever, but his violin faking is atrocious!

  • Another excellent performance by Hans Conried is in the Sam Katzman-produced SIREN OF BAGDAD (1953). Hans appears as the sidekick to Paul Henreid and steals the film.

  • Hans Conreid had one of the all-time great voices, coupled with one of the all-time great personalities. It’s a shame today’s voice artists don’t have the radio training that was standard in Conreid’s day. Animation certainly suffered when they started hiring celebrities more for their name value than their voices.

  • It’s amazing to me how many times I’ve spotted Hans Conried in tiny roles in movies in the 1940s – often as a Nazi spy or hotel clerk. Thank God that his real talent was discovered for radio and then animated cartoons! In my early childhood, I remember him as the crazy uncle on THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW. I don’t remember much else about the show – but I loved his character in it!

    • Uncle Tonoose, instigator of many a spit-take, as in “Uncle Tonoose is coming to stay with us for a month.” Letterman made great sport of that bit over the years.

  • I remember reading that Henry Brandon was the actor that Disney animators used for “Captain Hook” in PETER PAN. I wonder though, if they also might have used Hans Conried for some of his facial and body gestures as well – not just his voice. Just curiioius!

  • I highly recommend reading Hans Conried’s biography. He was quite the colorful character in real life !

  • I recently watched the UPA feature Magoo’s 1001 Nights because Hans Conried was a voice. I thought the villain was a little over the top even for a cartoon, but then figured, “well, if they weren’t going to do an outrageously over the top villain, they wouldn’t have got Hans Conried.”
    After seeing him as Dr. T. and on Fractured Flickers, I wish he could’ve done more live acting. He would’ve been great as a villain on Batman.

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