John Stephenson (actor)

John Stephenson
Born (1923-08-09)August 9, 1923
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died May 15, 2015(2015-05-15) (aged 91)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Other names John Stevenson
Occupation Actor
Years active 1946–2010
Spouse(s) Jean Elaine Irwin (1955–2015) (his death) (2 children)
Children 2[1]

John Winfield Stephenson (August 9, 1923 – May 15, 2015) was an American actor, most active in voice-over roles.[2] He has also been credited as John Stevenson. Stephenson never gave any interviews and was rarely seen in public, although he did make an appearance at BotCon 2001.

Early life

John Winfield Stephenson was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the oldest son of Ray and Martha Stephenson. Stephenson went to Ripon College and was active in campus drama. Stephenson wanted to be a lawyer and studied at the University of Wisconsin Law School. After serving in the United States Army Air Forces, as a gunner and radio operator, during World War II, John Stephenson graduated from Northwestern University with a master's degree in Speech and Drama in 1948. In 1946, during his studies, he gained an acting role on an episode of a drama radio series on WBKB.[3]


Early guest-starring roles

He started his acting career in numerous television shows in the 1950s and into the 1970s, usually in guest star roles on such shows as:

From 1955-58, he had a recurring role as Roger Crutcher on The People's Choice.

Stephenson had a small part as a man from the State Department in the film Hellfighters, starring John Wayne.

Voice acting

Stephenson provided the voice for commercials of the era, including spots for Peter Pan Peanut Butter featuring character actor Jesse White.

For several decades, he worked for Hanna-Barbera Productions, performing for many of its 1960s and 1970s animated television series. His first role for the company was for The Flintstones's eleventh episode, "The Golf Champion". He played The Golf Commentator, a lodge member and Left-Foot Charlie. Stephenson's most notable role for Hanna-Barbera was as Mr. Slate, Fred Flintstone's hard-edged boss at Slate Rock and Gravel Company. He played Mr. Slate from the original series up through to the present, although he provided the voices of the majority of the show's guest characters, including Joe Rockhead on several occasions, making him one of the main cast members of the show.

Other notable roles include Fancy-Fancy on Top Cat, multiple characters on Scooby-Doo, Colonel Fusby on Breezly and Sneezly, Chief Winchley on the Squiddly Diddly segments from The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show, Tog, Rollo, Pondo and Ork in Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor and Luke and Blubber Bear in the Wacky Races, among many others.

Stephenson's voice was frequently used and often most remembered for his work on Jonny Quest. There he provided the voice of Dr. Benton Quest for the first 5 episodes, until Barbera decided that his voice sounded too much like that of Mike Road who played the character Race Bannon.

Here is the list of known Jonny Quest characterizations provided by John Stephenson:

He also played Fariek and Bakaar on Arabian Knights, Zookeeper Eustace P. Peevly and The Superintendent in Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch!, guest roles on Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, Captain Mike Murphy on Sealab 2020 and The Great Hadji on Jeannie. For The Adventures of Gulliver, he voiced the villain Captain Leech and the Lilliputian monarch, King Pomp; in the first episode of the series he also voiced Gulliver's father.

Stephenson was most often cast as curmudgeon and irascible characters. His range was limited but served him well in the roles he brought to prominence. In total, Stephenson had about five or six voices he would apply to characters. There is his most-used voice, which he gave to Mr. Slate on The Flintstones series. Another character given that same vocal delivery was Chief Wiggins on the series Dynomutt, Dog Wonder, Sheriff Bagley on Clue Club, and countless others.

Another voice Stephenson was often called to do was the high nasal Joe Flynn-inspired voice. This voice was usually given to characters that were either rude, or smart-alecks, or flat out mean. They were also short-tempered; examples include Mr. Peevly from Help! It's the Hair Bear Bunch!, Mr. Finkerton from Inch High Private Eye, Schnooker from Inspector Mumbly, a segment from The Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape/Mumbly Show and Captain Snerdley from Galaxy Goof-Ups..

He was cast most often in the Scooby-Doo series as the villains or the red herring scientist. In the episode "High Rise Hair Raiser", he played Mr. Daugherty, Mr. Speck, and the villain of that episode, The Specter. Still, another voice Stephenson was noted for, was his take on Boris Karloff. A lot of the Karloff-sounding villains in early episodes of Scooby-Doo were provided by Stephenson. He played Hairy Scary on Casper and the Angels along with Casper's Halloween Special and Casper's First Christmas. He also played Farmer John Arable in the 1973 Hanna-Barbera animated feature Charlotte's Web.

John Stephenson borrowed the vocal traits of Joe Flynn for several characters as mentioned earlier, Boris Karloff for several more, and did a Jimmy Durante for the 1970s and 1980s version of Doggie Daddy on Yogi's Treasure Hunt. Also, if needed, Stephenson has been known to do a take-off on Paul Lynde as heard on the 1977 series Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics as Mildew Wolf. Originally, Lynde voiced the character as part of a segment shown on a series called Cattanooga Cats but was not interested in reprising the role on Laff-a-Lympics. Stephenson also gave voice to the Dread Baron, a re-designed Dick Dastardly character. A further Stephenson voice was used for the magician The Great Fondoo, inspired perhaps by Bela Lugosi. He also reached back for the Paul Lynde voice when he was cast as Wilfred Wolf in the early 1980s series, Kwicky Koala.

During the 1980s, he performed on various cartoons of the period such as G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, Galaxy High, Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series and Bionic Six. He voiced Huffer, Windcharger, Thundercracker, and Alpha Trion from the 1980s hit TV series The Transformers, and took over the role of Kup for the show's third season (the character was voiced by Lionel Stander in The Transformers: The Movie). In 1987, he reprised Fancy-Fancy in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats in which he also replaced Allen Jenkins as the voice of Officer Dibble for that movie. He also provided the voice of Professor X in Pryde of the X-Men (he had previously played X-Men nemesis Magneto during the character's appearance in the 1970s Fantastic Four). He also voiced Oompo and The Dirigible Captain in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland.

Stephenson reprised his role of Luke from Wacky Races in the Wacky Races video game in 2000. His voice work after 2000 included doing guest voices for What's New, Scooby Doo?, Johnny Bravo, as Ganthet on Duck Dodgers, and he also portrayed Grandpa Squirrel on Squirrel Boy. In 2004, Stephenson narrated the featurette "Space Age Gadgets" for The Jetsons First Season DVD box set. He also narrated the featurette "Wacky Inventions" for The Flintstones Complete Series DVD box set. In 2010, Stephenson played Sheriff on Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, marking the first time he voiced a character on a direct-to-DVD Scooby-Doo movie.


Stephenson was also the narrator in the classic television series Dragnet (1967–1970), recapping the fate of the perpetrators at the end of every episode. (The opening narration at this time was performed by George Fenneman)


He provided the voice of Mr. Fernwell, using his "Mr. Slate voice" in a series of Accountemps radio ads.


Stephenson died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 91 on May 15, 2015. He is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and a granddaughter.[4][5]



Video Games/Misc.


  2. Lawson, Tim; Persons, Alisa (2004-12-01). The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. 326–. ISBN 9781578066964. Retrieved 9 May 2012.
  3. YOWP-John Stephenson
  4. Barnes, Mike (May 21, 2015). "John Stephenson, Voice of Mr. Slate on 'The Flintstones,' Dies at 91". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  5. Schreiber, John (May 21, 2015). "Voice actor John Winfield Stephenson dead at 91". City News Service. Retrieved May 22, 2015.

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