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Billy West
Billy West by Gage Skidmore 4.jpg
West at the 2022 Phoenix Fan Fusion
Born
William Richard Werstine

(1952-04-16) April 16, 1952 (age 71)
Occupation Voice actor
Years active 1980–present
Spouse(s)
Violet Benny
(m. 1992; div. 2009)

William Richard Werstine (born April 16, 1952), known professionally as Billy West, is an American voice actor. His voice roles include Bugs Bunny in the 1996 film Space Jam and several subsequent projects, the title characters of Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, as well as the Futurama characters Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan. In commercials, he is the current voice of the Red M&M and formerly voiced Buzz for Honey Nut Cheerios. West also voices other such established characters such as Elmer Fudd, Popeye, Shaggy Rogers, Skeets, Tom, Muttley, and Woody Woodpecker. He was a cast member on The Howard Stern Show, during which time he was noted for his impressions of Larry Fine, Marge Schott, George Takei, and Jackie Martling.

Early life

William Richard Werstine was born in Detroit, Michigan, on April 16, 1952. He is of Irish descent, and was born with ADHD and autism. He grew up in Boston, in the Roslindale neighborhood. After a semester at Berklee College of Music, West found himself in various bands, gigging the Boston scene by night, and selling guitars in a Harvard Square shop during the day.

West has stated that during the Vietnam War, he was subject to the draft lottery under the Nixon administration, receiving a low draft number which would have resulted in his being drafted in 1970. West was ultimately classified "4-F" and excluded from enlistment on medical grounds as he had hypertension and flat feet. West described his later recurring role as Richard Nixon on Futurama as his "revenge" against Nixon. In a 2019 video post, West opined that the "biggest joke" about his experience was the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum subsequently including images and footage of the Futurama Nixon character as part of its "Nixon in Popular Culture" exhibit.

Career

Radio career

In 1980, West was part of an oldies band called The Shutdowns. West worked at WBCN in Boston, performing daily comedic routines on The Big Mattress show, then moved to New York City in 1988, working at K-Rock Radio (92.3 FM WXRK). West became a regular on The Howard Stern Show at that time until leaving in 1995, where he gained notice for his impersonations of Three Stooges middleman Larry Fine, Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott and Stern's head writer Jackie Martling. West moved to Los Angeles, where he found success as a voice actor and performer.

Television

He left the radio station in 1988 to work on the short-lived revival of Beany and Cecil, which was his first voice role in television. West's first major roles were on Doug and The Ren & Stimpy Show, which were two of the first three Nicktoons on Nickelodeon (the other being Rugrats). Over his career, West has been the voice talent for close to 120 different characters including some of the most iconic animated figures in television history. He has become one of the few voice actors who can impersonate Mel Blanc in his prime, including characterizations of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the voice Arthur Q. Bryan used for Elmer Fudd, as well as other characters from Warner Bros. cartoons. In 1998, Entertainment Weekly described West as "the new Mel Blanc" and noted his ability to mimic well-known voices, though he would rather develop original voices. West's favorite characters are Philip J. Fry and Stimpy, both of which he originated. West has been very outspoken over his displeasure about the influx of movie star actors providing voice-over for films and major shows. West has stated that he did not like the Disney version of Doug and that he "couldn't watch" the show. West was the voice of the show's namesake, Geeker, throughout Project Geeker's 13-episode run. West was the voice of Zim in the original pilot for Invader Zim. Richard Steven Horvitz was chosen for the series role because West's voice was too recognizable, according to creator Jhonen Vasquez during DVD commentary. West is the voice of "Red" in numerous M&M commercials as well as the 3-D movie I Lost my M in Vegas, currently playing at M&M's World in Las Vegas, Nevada. He also voices a number of minor characters in the series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. He voiced the character Moobeard in Moobeard the Cow Pirate, a short animation featured on Random! Cartoons and reprises his role as Elmer Fudd in Cartoon Network's series The Looney Tunes Show. In 1999, he also had a cameo in the Emmy Award-winning cartoon Dilbert.

The Ren & Stimpy Show

West provided the voice of Stimpson J. Cat in Nickelodeon's The Ren & Stimpy Show from 1991 until 1996, and he later provided the voice of Ren Höek from 1993 to 1996 when Ren's original voice and series creator John Kricfalusi was fired by Nickelodeon (then a division of the original Viacom) for delivering late and objectionable episodes. He performed other characters on the series, such as Mr. Horse (another role he took over after Kricfalusi's departure) and the announcer for the "Log" ads (a voice West would use years later as the narrator for The Weird Al Show).

According to West, he was originally supposed to do the voice of both Ren and Stimpy (and performed both characters on the tape that was used to sell the show to Nickelodeon), but then Kricfalusi decided to do the voice of Ren himself once the show was sold and he had West on board as part of the selling point. However, West provided Ren's laughter with Kricfalusi as Ren's speaking voice.

Futurama

Billywestcropped
West in 2006

West's roles in Futurama include Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, and Dr. Zoidberg, among others. As he and other Futurama cast and crew point out in DVD commentaries, he voiced so many characters throughout the series that conversations are often held entirely between characters he is voicing. West went into the Futurama auditions and was asked to try out for, as he says, "just about every part". He eventually landed the roles of Farnsworth, Zoidberg, and Brannigan. He later got the main role of Fry, which originally had gone to Charlie Schlatter. While West is known for his original voices, the voice he uses for Fry is often considered to be closer to his natural voice than any other character he has played; in an audio commentary, he states Fry is "just [himself] at age 25". This similarity, West acknowledges, was done purposefully in order to make it harder to replace him in the part along with placing more of himself personally into the role.

The role of Zapp Brannigan was written for the late Phil Hartman, who died before the show started; West was given the role. West has described his interpretation of Zapp Brannigan's voice as an imitation of Hartman, but described the actual vocalizations of the character as being based on "a couple of big dumb announcers I knew." Futurama was renewed by Comedy Central as four direct-to-DVD films broken into 16 television episodes. West reprised his roles for these films and was signed on for two new 26-episode production seasons (four 13-episode air seasons) of Futurama which aired summers of 2010 to 2013.

Advertising

West was the announcer of the program Screen Gems Network which ran from 1999 to 2001. He was the promotional announcer for The Comedy Channel before it merged with HA! to become Comedy Central. Over his career, Billy West has voiced multiple characters in television commercials. These include (but are not limited to):

West voiced the Speed Racer character in a late 1990s advertisement for Volkswagen, because the commercial's producers could not locate Peter Fernandez, the original voice of Speed. However, the producers did locate Corinne Orr, the original voice for the characters Trixie and Spritle.

Online

West voiced Graham and Julius F. in Eric Kaplan's web cartoon Zombie College and two characters in Tofu the Vegan Zombie. He appeared on Ken Reid's TV Guidance Counselor Podcast on January 30, 2015. The episode was recorded live at The Smell in Downtown Los Angeles during the third annual Riot LA Comedy Festival.

West began his own podcast show in July 2015. It features him doing numerous characters per episode, recurring segments such as "Song Demolition" and special guest Jim Gomez.

Films

In the 1996 film Space Jam, West voiced Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. He reprised both roles in subsequent Looney Tunes feature-length films and returned as Fudd in the theatrically released Looney Tunes: Back in Action. In 1998, West starred in the direct-to-video film Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island as Shaggy Rogers, becoming the second person to portray the character (the first being Casey Kasem). He was one of the top contenders to replace Kasem after his retirement in 2009 but lost the role to Matthew Lillard. He voiced role of Muttley in the Warner Bros. 2020' Scooby-Doo CGI film Scoob!. In 2000, he provided additional voices in Disney's Dinosaur. In 2004, West voiced the classic character Popeye in the 75th-anniversary film Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, and made his live-action film debut in Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie. He also appeared in a cameo in Garfield: The Movie. Other films featuring West's vocal talents include Joe's Apartment, Cats & Dogs, Olive, the Other Reindeer, TMNT, The Proud Family Movie and several Tom and Jerry direct-to-video films.

Music

West is a guitarist and singer-songwriter with a band called Billy West and The Grief Counselors. They have released their first album, Me-Pod. West has toured as a guitarist for Roy Orbison and Brian Wilson.

In 1982, West sang lead, doing an impersonation of Mike Love, on a Beach Boys-inspired tune, "Another Cape Cod Summer This Year," by studio band ROUTE 28, written and produced by Erik Lindgren on his Arf! Arf! Records label.

West has collaborated with Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, and Los Lobos, and he has played live on several occasions with Brian Wilson, including the guitar solo on the Beach Boys tune "Do it Again" on Late Show with David Letterman, in the mid-1990s.

The Futurama episode "Proposition Infinity" features the track "Shut up and Love Me" which was written and played by Billy West and Greg Leon, under the name Wailing Fungus.

Radio

Throughout the 1980s, West provided character voices on Charles Laquidara's Big Mattress radio show on Boston's WBCN. West was one-half of the award-winning WBCN Production team from 1980 to 1986. From 1989 through 1995, West provided The Howard Stern Show with character voices such as Jim Backus, Lucille Ball, Raymond Burr, Johnny Carson, Johnnie Cochran, Connie Chung, Pat Cooper, Jane Curtin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Doris Day, Louis "Red" Deutsch, David Dinkins, Mia Farrow, Larry Fine, Pete Fornatale, Frank Gifford, Kathie Lee Gifford, Rudolph Giuliani, Mark Goddard, Bobcat Goldthwait, the Greaseman, Jonathan Harris (as Dr. Zachary Smith), Leona Helmsley, Evander Holyfield, Shemp Howard, Lance Ito, Elton John, Don Knotts, Jay Leno, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Martling (as the Jackie puppet), Ed McMahon, Al Michaels, Bill Mumy (as Will Robinson), Cardinal O'Connor, Maury Povich, Soon-Yi Previn, Marge Schott, Frank Sinatra, Rae Stern (Howard Stern's mother), George Takei, Joe Walsh and Robin Williams until eventually leaving the show over money. West was an occasional contributor to The Adam Carolla Show, a syndicated morning radio show that replaced Stern's show on CBS in LA. On February 19 and 20, 2007, The Howard Stern Show ran a special two-part retrospective of West's work with the show. It marked his first work with the show since leaving after his last show on November 1, 1995. On June 9, 2009, West appeared on Jackie Martling's Jackie's Joke Hunt on Stern's satellite radio channel Howard 101.

Video games

Characters voiced by West include Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in numerous Looney Tunes video games.

Other video game characters West has voiced include:

  • Stimpy in The Ren & Stimpy Show: Veediots! (1993), Nicktoons Racing (2000), and Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots (2007).
  • Dr. Zoidberg in The Simpsons Game (2007).
  • Additional Voices in Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly (2002).
  • Ricky Sr. and O'Toole in Open Season (2006).
  • Sparx in The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night (2007).
  • Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan in Futurama (2003).
  • Nash and Zam in Crash Nitro Kart (2003).
  • Voices for the player character in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000).
  • Murfy and other characters in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (2003).
  • Muttley and L'il Gruesome in Wacky Races: Starring Dastardly and Muttley (2001).
  • Red in M&M's: The Lost Formulas (2000).
  • Hamton J. Pig in Tiny Toon Adventures: Toonenstein.
  • Atomic Bomberman in Atomic Bomberman.
  • Emilio Baza in Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned.
  • Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd in Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (1991).
  • The Yak in Nicktoons MLB (2011).
  • Fire Kraken, Freeze Blade, Food Fight, Chill Bill and Rocky Roll in Skylanders: Swap Force, Skylanders: Trap Team and Skylanders: SuperChargers.
  • The narrator in Minecraft: Story Mode (2015).
  • Ren and Stimpy in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (2021; voice added as part of the June 6th, 2022 update).

Personal life

West was married to Violet Benny, but they later divorced.

West has been critical of Dick Cheney and the Republican Party, describing Republican senators as "old men with bad breath and dandruff." He has also mocked the tweets of Donald Trump by reading them out in character as Zapp Brannigan, drawing similarities between Trump and the Futurama antagonist.

West purchased a home in the Hollywood Hills West neighborhood of Los Angeles for $480,000 in 1998, and sold it for $1.18 million in March 2016.

Filmography

Film

List of voice performances in feature and direct-to-video films
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Joe's Apartment Ralph Roach
1996 Space Jam Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd Role of Elmer shared with Greg Burson
1998 Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island Norville "Shaggy" Rogers Direct-to-video
2000 Rugrats in Paris: The Movie Sumo Singer
2001 Osmosis Jones Collin Uncredited
2001 Tom and Jerry: The Magic Ring Freddie Direct-to-video
2001 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Various Voices
2003 Looney Tunes: Back in Action Elmer Fudd, Peter Lorre
2004 Garfield Dog
2004 Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy Popeye, Pappy Direct-to-video
2005 Tom and Jerry: Blast Off to Mars Biff Buzzard, King Thingg, Gardener #2
2006 Curious George Manager
2006 Queer Duck: The Movie Bi-Polar Bear Direct-to-video
2006 Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
2007 TMNT Newscaster
2007 Billy & Mandy's Big Boogey Adventure Pirate #8, Miniature Cyclops, Spider Clown Mailman, Beast Master
2007 Futurama: Bender's Big Score Philip J. Fry, Lars Fillmore, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon, Additional voices Direct-to-video
2008 Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon, Additional voices
2008 Futurama: Bender's Game Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Additional voices
2009 Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, Leo Wong, Richard Nixon, Additional voices
2010 Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes Tom
2011 Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz Uncredited
Direct-to-video
2012 Daffy's Rhapsody Elmer Fudd Short film
2014 Movieactors: Giant 8 Classic Cartoons Rancid Rabbit, The Amazing Ray, The Amazing Fay, Randolph
2015 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Seagull
2015 Pixels Additional Video Game Characters
2016 Tom and Jerry: Back to Oz Tom Uncredited
Direct-to-Video
2017 Best Fiends: Boot Camp General Slug Short film
2020 Scoob! Muttley

Animation

List of voice performances in television shows
Year Title Role Notes
1988 The New Adventures of Beany and Cecil Cecil
1991–1994 Doug Douglas Yancey "Doug" Funnie, Roger Klotz, Additional voices
1991–1996 The Ren & Stimpy Show Stimpson J. Cat, Ren Höek*, Mr. Horse*, Additional voices Replacing John Kricfalusi
1994 The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show France Bug
1994 The Baby Huey Show Fox
1996 Earthworm Jim The Sturgeon
1996–1999 Timon & Pumbaa Various Voices
1996–2003 Dexter's Laboratory Additional voices
1997–1998 The Wacky World of Tex Avery Tex Avery, Freddy the Fly, Sagebrush Sid
1997 Cow and Chicken Additional voices
1997–2000 I Am Weasel
1997 Project G.e.e.K.e.R. GeeKeR
1997 The Weird Al Show Show Announcer, Harvey the Wonder Hamster
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Slimer, Mayor McShane
1997 Space Goofs Additional voices
1997–1999 King of the Hill Cigarenders Leader, Mr. Holloway, Sergeant Barber
1998 Mad Jack the Pirate Snuk
1998–2000 Histeria! Chit Chatterson, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn
1998–2000 Voltron: The Third Dimension Pidge
1998–2005 The Powerpuff Girls Additional voices
1998–2005 CatDog Rancid Rabbit, Mr. Sunshine, Randolph Grant, Mean Bob, Additional voices 62 episodes
1998 Planet Kate Max, Boliar
1999 Queer Duck Bi-Polar Bear, Additional voices
1999 Detention Emmitt Roswell, Additional voices
1999 Olive, the Other Reindeer Mr. Eskimo Television film
1999 Dilbert Marketing Guy, Additional voices
1999 Family Guy Additional voices Ep. "Death Has a Shadow"
1999–2002 The New Woody Woodpecker Show Woody Woodpecker, Wally Walrus, Smedley, Doug Knutts
1999–2013, 2023 Futurama Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg
Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon, Additional voices
1999–2002 Screen Gems Network Announcer Syndicated program
2000 Poochini Poochini, Walter White, Mr. Garvey, Lockjaw
2000–2001 Zombie College Julius, Graham
2001 Horrible Histories Stitch, Narrator, Various
2001 The Oblongs George Klimer, Anita Bidet, Additional voices
2001 Lloyd in Space Larvel Ep. "Nerd From Beyond The Stars"
2001 Totally Spies! Lester Crawley Ep. "The Eraser"
2002 Jackie Chan Adventures Monkey King Ep. "Monkey a Go-Go"
2002 Crank Yankers Confucious, Moo Shu
2002 Ozzy & Drix Muscle Cell Ep. "Reflex"
2002–2006 The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius Sam Melvick, Additional voices 18 episodes
2003 Duck Dodgers Mother Fudd
2003–2009 My Life as a Teenage Robot Principal Razinski, Additional voices Various episodes
2003 Teamo Supremo Barney the Bungler Ep. Beware of the Bungler!
2004 What's New, Scooby-Doo? Jimmy Proudwolf Ep. "New Mexico, Old Monster"
2004 Invader Zim Zim Ep. "Pilot"
2004 Justice League Unlimited Skeets, Dr. Daniel Brown, Transporter Tech Ep. "The Greatest Story Never Told"
2004, 2006 Codename: Kids Next Door Numbuh 13
2005 The Life & Times of Juniper Lee Leprechaun
2005 The Proud Family Movie Board Member, Cab Driver Television film
2005–2007 Loonatics Unleashed Electro J. Fudd, Sagittarius Stomper
2006 Ben 10 Kraab, Guard, Punk #2
2006–2007 Drawn Together Stimpy, Popeye, Denzel Washington
2006 Jimmy Timmy Power Hour Sam Melvick, Corky Shimatzu, Blix, and British official Television Film
2006–2007 Squirrel Boy Kyle Finster
2007 Chowder Additional voices
2007 El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera
2007–2009 Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World Various
2008 The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack Additional voices
2008 The Mighty B!
2008 Random! Cartoons Various
2009 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Skeets Ep. "Menace of the Conqueror Caveman!"
2009–2012 Jungle Junction Ellyvan
2010 Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil Additional voices
2010 T.U.F.F. Puppy
2010, 2012 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Gunther Gator, Randy Warsaw, Butch Firbanks
2010 Glenn Martin, DDS Mr. Vernon Ep. "Camp"
2011 Mongo Wrestling Alliance Various
2011 Eric Kaplan's Sketch World Additional voices Web series
2011–2014 The Looney Tunes Show Elmer Fudd
2012 The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange Cranberry
2013 Ultimate Spider-Man Rocket Raccoon
2014 The Simpsons Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg Ep. "Simpsorama"
2014 Mixels Lunk, Gobba, Balk
2014 Adventure Time Goose, Dr. Erik Adamkinson, Mayor Ep. "Everything's Jake"
2014 Turbo Fast Fleagor, Mosquito, Adolfo, Waterbug, Jack A. Lopez
2014 TripTank Sextus Scribnous Ep. "Ahhh, Serenity"
2014–2016 The 7D Bashful
2015–2019 The Stinky & Dirty Show Chill
2016 Rolling with the Ronks! *Replacing Dee Bradley Baker
2016 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Hungry Larry Ep. "Hungry Larry/Spider with a Top Hat"
2016 Bunnicula Friendless Sven the Destroyer Ep. "Squeaky Doom"
2016 Robot Chicken Doug Funnie, Waffleface Ep. "Yogurt in a Bag"
2016 Mighty Magiswords Herman, Pterodactyl, Spiffy the Sphinx
2017 Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! Sheriff Boon, Paco Ep. "How to Train Your Coward"
2017 Samurai Jack Walrus Merchant Ep. "XCIX"
2017–2019 Wacky Races Muttley, Tiny, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Touche Turtle, Jabberjaw
2018 Happy! Raspberry (voice) Ep. "The Scrapyard of Childish Things"
2018 Big City Greens Nick Ep. "Greens' Acres"
2018–present Rockin' South Mortimer Mousewell
2018–present Disenchantment Sorcerio, The Jester, Mertz, Pops the Elf, King Rulo the Elf Netflix series
2019 Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? Various Voices 2 Episodes
2019 Welcome to the Wayne Baby Olly Ep. "The Best Buddy I Never Had"
2020–2021 Spitting Image Joe Biden, Mitch McConnell, Vladimir Putin, Mark Zuckerberg, Rudy Giuliani, William Shatner

Video games

List of voice performances in video games
Year Title Role Notes
1997 Atomic Bomberman Atomic Bomberman
1999 Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd
1999 Tiny Toon Adventures: Toonenstein Hamton J. Pig
2000 M&M's: The Lost Formulas Red
2000 Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn Additional voices
2000 Nicktoons Racing Stimpy
2001 Wacky Races: Starring Dastardly and Muttley Muttley, L'il Gruesome
2002 Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly Additional voices
2003 Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc Murfy
2003 Futurama Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan
2003 Crash Nitro Kart Nash, Zam
2003 I-Ninja Ninja
2006 Open Season Toothy O'Toole, Ricky Sr.
2007 The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night Sparx
2007 Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots Stimpy
2007 The Simpsons Game Dr. Zoidberg
2011 Nicktoons MLB The Yak
2013 Skylanders series Fire Kraken, Freeze Blade, Food Fight, Chill Bill, Rocky Roll
2015 Minecraft: Story Mode Narrator, Siggie, Fanboy
2021 Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Ren, Stimpy Voiceover added in the June 2022 update
2022 Nickelodeon Kart Racers 3: Slime Speedway

Live-action

List of acting performances in feature films
Year Title Role Notes
2004 Comic Book: The Movie Leo Matuzik Direct-to-video
2013 I Know That Voice Himself Documentary

Discography

  • Me-Pod (2004)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Billy West para niños

  • The Magic Behind the Voices
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