Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mark Evanier Remembers Arnold Stang.

Arnold Stang died. He had one of the greatest voices ever committed to film or TV. It was both immediately identifiable, uneasily imitated, and always, always hilarious. A sadsack Daffy Duck.

Mark Evanier, whose blog is an essential, tells his story here.

He was a joy to work with. The only direction I gave him — the only direction you could give a guy like that — was, "Try to sound like Arnold Stang." He did so with ease, like he'd been doing it all his life and he was perfect. He was also gracious enough to record a message for my answering machine.

While I was recording with Arnold, Eddie Lawrence arrived. You may not know Eddie's name but he's a wonderful character actor and comedian who did a series of much-quoted records as "The Old Philosopher." His catch-phrase was, "Hey, is that's what bothering you, Bunky?" Anyway, he and Arnold were longtime pals, and when Arnold and I were done with his cartoon and he exited the booth, he and Eddie embraced.

Then Arnold looked him in the eye and sounding as serious as Arnold Stang could possibly sound, he pointed to me and said, "Eddie, don't give this young man any trouble. He's a fine director and you just do everything he says."

Eddie promised he would. That wasn't good enough for Arnold. He added, "If you give him any crap, I'll come back here and kick your ass." Then he handed me his pager number and said, "Remember...if he gets out of line, call me and I'll come back and kick his ass." This wasn't necessary but there was one moment when Eddie was giving me a little problem and I had to threaten, "I'll call Arnold." He immediately apologized and agreed to do it the way I wanted. The power of an Arnold Stang threat.

The notion of anyone being afraid of Arnold Stang is so wonderfully absurd. Thanks, Mark, for that story. Go to his site for videos and a sound clip.

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