When I first heard this box office number, my reaction was to shout an emphatic “Wrong!” — after which I puffed my inhaler and went back to organizing my action figures. Why were my nerd alarms so dramatically sounded that day? Because I love the truth, and the truth of the matter is that there is one actor whose total career gross is larger than Samuel L. Jackson’s, and not by a small amount.
While Jackson’s movies have accumulated a worldwide gross of $9.9 billion overall, according to the-numbers.com, this person’s total gross is a staggering $12.9 billion. Who is this mystery man who has taken our money so greedily for years?
That man, believe it or not, is a humble and awkward looking voice actor by the name of Frank Welker. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t.
Welker, although he has done several movies, television shows and video games, rarely receives or demands credit for any of them. And yet, it’s highly probable that everyone reading this article has heard his voice at least once a day for almost every day of their lives the last 20 years.
This is not at all shocking. Back in the ’60s and ’70s voice actor Mel Blanc (best known as the voice of every non-female Looney Toon) estimated that 20 million people heard his voice daily due to his talents being so sought after — and that was before most people had a television.
You see, voice actors are cherished so much in the film industry that to find one that is not only reliable but so talented that they can get their work done in minimal time is a blessing from the heavens. Frank Welker is one of these actors, so whenever a voice talent is required, most movie and television executives immediately call him.
Welker’s earliest big role was as Fred on Scooby Doo, Where Are You! and from there he worked his way up in the ’80s to become one of the most reliable voice artists in Hollywood. He has played roles such as Abu in Aladdin, Santa’s Little Helper on The Simpsons, Pegasus in Hercules, the anaconda in Anaconda, George in Curious George, the dragon in the Shrek movies, and — have you noticed the animal pattern yet?
Yes, Welker is particularly well known for his animal voice talents, so much so that he is called up whenever an animal noise is required. In fact, one writer for The Simpsons once stated that Welker had the ability to do any animal voice on the planet. Even when asked if he could do a flock of geese and a flock of crows fighting each other he was somehow able to do it.
But it’s not just in animation that you can hear Welker’s voice. His talent with animal voices is so desired that he has shown up in movies like Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, all films that grossed over $1 billion worldwide. Add those grosses and the rest of his films together and it makes big money. He voices so many people that you’d be surprised by how versatile he is. Playing vastly different characters such as Nibbler from Futurama and Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, Welker has a resume as big as Megatron (whom he voiced, by the way).
Sadly, the man whose voice has entertained millions over the years is starting to slow down as he enters his late 60s. That’s why I’m glad to be writing about such a talent. Google him, look up his IMDb page and smile at all the characters he so embodied that you never thought to yourself who the man behind them might be. It’s completely worth it.