The Silent Voices of Valhalla

Valhalla’s voice of “Elmer Fudd,” Arthur Q. Bryan.

Jiminy Cricket, Betty Ruble, and Elmer Fudd all died and went to Valhalla. … No, it’s not the start of a animated Scandinavian mythology joke, but what actually became of the voice stars Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket), Bea Benaderet (Betty Ruble), and Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd), who all became permanent residents of Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood upon death.

Cliff Edwards, nicknamed “Ukelele Ike” – incorrect spelling and all – was a Jazz musician who single-handedly popularized the ukulele in the 1920s. He had several hit songs, but none so enduring as When You Wish Upon a Star, which he sang as Jiminy Cricket in the Walt Disney animated classic Pinocchio. A year later he had another hit as the chief crow in Disney’s Dumbo with When I see an Elephant Fly. Edwards died penniless in 1971 and Disney paid for his grave marker.

Bea Benaderet is best known today for starring as Kate Bradley, the owner of the Shady Rest Hotel in the 1960s television comedy Petticoat Junction. Previously, she nearly landed the roles of Ethel Mertz in I Love Lucy, and Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. (She was considered too buxom for the latter character, but did appear on the show as Cousin Pearl, Jethro Bodine’s mother.) Two decades before her television work made her famous, Benaderet starred at Warner Bros.’ cartoon unit “Termite Terrace” as the voice of a different Granny, this time in the Tweety Bird cartoons. During her time on Petticoat Junction she did double-duty as the voice of Betty Rubble for the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Flintstones alongside her old WB co-star Mel Blanc, who supplied the voice of Betty’s husband Barney. She died from lung cancer in 1968 and on the day of her funeral her husband died suddenly, and the two are now interred in the same crypt.

Arthur Q. Bryan (the “Q” stands for Quirk, no lie.) was the original voice of Elmer Fudd, the poster child for speech thewapy. Bryan died of a heart attack in 1959 at the age of 60 after a 20-year career in cartoons. He rarely got screen credit, and as a result, many people believe Mel Blanc created the voice of Elmer Fudd (along with Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig – to name a few). Blanc (among others) did become the voice of Fudd after Bryan’s passing.

In case you’re wondering, you won’t find Mel Blanc at Valhalla, but at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. His is the grave that says, “That’s All, Folks!”

Legendary voice-artist Mel Blanc’s gravesite at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

6 responses to “The Silent Voices of Valhalla

  • Bill West

    Another great entry EJ! Thanks!! Over the weekend, I happened upon a short-subject from the 40’s on TCM, which I later discovered was a series called “So, you want to …” with each episode completing the title differently, like “So you want to be a Handy Man”, and such. The main character was named Joe McDoakes. So, while watching the thing, his voice was driving me crazy, ’cause it was so familiar. Finally, it hit me… it was the voice of George Jetson, George O’Hanlon! He didn’t look dissimilar to his cartoon alter-ego. 🙂

    • deadwrite

      Hey Bill. I just discovered “Joe McDoakes” recently as well. He did some shorts in the 30s that are on the Warner Bros. Gangster collection. He did look like George Jetson (Arthur Q. Bryan looked a lot like Elmer Fudd as well. They actually drew Fudd to be much heavier to look even more like Bryan for awhile, but then thinned him back down.)

  • Kimi Stephens

    I LOVE that Cliff Edwards (who voiced Jiminy Cricket) actually WROTE the song “When You Wish Upon A Star”! It’s such a wonderful, memorable tune, and to know it’s composer gave Jiminy his voice makes him even more impressive.

  • V.E.G.

    Arthur Q. Bryan is full Irish!

  • V.E.G.

    Arthur Q. Bryan is a gentile.

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