Saturday, 17 November 2018

Tiffany Tiff

There was a time at Hanna-Barbera, writer Tony Benedict says, when all you had to do was please Joe Barbera—and then the company was sold and became corporate. And corporations make decisions based on, well, not based on Joe Barbera. Or common sense.

What was supposed to be the last work on the voice track for The Jetsons: The Movie was apparently done in February 1989; that’s when George O’Hanlon suffered a stroke in the studio after finishing his lines and died in hospital.

But that wasn’t the end of it, as fans discovered starting around May 9th when Daily Variety revealed that singer Tiffany had re-done all of Janet Waldo’s dialogue as Judy Jetson.

Common sense tells you it was a stupid idea. Janet’s voice was recognised by everyone as Judy Jetson’s. And this wasn’t a case of an actress getting older and not being able to do the part. When Janet was hovering around 90, she could still sound pretty much like she did as suburban teenager Corliss Archer on radio in the mid 1940s (which, basically, was Judy’s voice).

The decision, though, made corporate sense. Universal put up money for the Jetsons movie. Universal had a sister record company, MCA. Tiffany was one of its big recording stars. Put some Tiffany songs in the Jetsons movie—cartoons are aimed at kids anyway—release them on MCA and you have instant free advertising via the movie. And, hey, since she’s doing the singing, she might as well do the dialogue, too. In fact, the suits wanted to ditch the Jetsons’ theme and have Tiffany sing something over the titles and credits but were talked out of it by composer/conductor John Debney.

That’s how corporations think.

How and when Miss Waldo was informed about all this, I don’t know. But the decision was crappy for fans and a real insult to her.

Here’s a version of events from the May 23, 1989 edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Joe Barbera sticks to the corporate line.

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Pop music teenybopper Tiffany will be heard as the voice of Judy Jetson in the new Jetsons: The Movie due at Christmastime, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
Meanwhile, Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy, is on the outs but bears no hard feelings, People magazine reports. Waldo recorded the original voice tracks but says Hanna-Barbera apologetically indicated that Tiffany's label, MCA, which is also producing the movie, wanted the singer to take the role.
"Her voice is so prominent in the musical segments that we decided to feature her in the spoken part as well," said Joseph Barbera, president of Hanna-Barbera Productions. Tiffany will sing three new songs on the sound track of the full-length animated feature.
Waldo, who claims to bear no ill will over the switch, said Tiffany "sings through her nose."
Janet expressed her disappointment in other interviews. This unbylined piece showed up in the St Louis Post-Dispatch on July 26, 1989. (As a side note, Daws Butler died in 1988. Patric Zimmerman was Elroy in this movie).
MOST PEOPLE don't recognize her name or her face, but when she spouts words ala Judy Jetson—her animated counterpart—ears perk up.
"That was the first animated voice I did," says actress Janet Waldo. "My kids grew up with 'The Jetsons' at the same time I was doing the voices for the show. And now, my friends always introduce me as Judy Jetson—everywhere I go." Later this year, Hanna-Barbera animation studios will release the first theatrical motion picture about the space-age family titled "Jetsons: The Movie!"
Jumping Jupiter! This time, however, it is minus the vocal talents of Waldo, whose Judy Jetson was forever the hip teen-ager of the 21st century. Instead, funders of the film decided to use the vocals of rock singer Tiffany to supply the dialogue and vocals.
"I was terribly upset. I was crushed," says Waldo. "This was a part I had created and performed. It's kind of like I've been robbed. And yet, it was the last time the cast was together to record the voices as a family again, ya know?"
Since final recording sessions, George O'Hanlon, the voice of George Jetson, died. Months later Daws Butler, the voice of little Elroy died, and recently Mel Blanc, the man of a thousand voices (including Mr. Spacely), died. Reportedly, Hanna-Barbera has been deluged with negative mail about their "meddling" with a cult hit, which originally aired in 1962 on prime time television.
"The studio told me they want to continue with some more episodes replacing the cast where they need to," says Waldo. "It wasn't necessary to replace me completely. They just wanted to.
"I don't know Tiffany at all, but I don't think of her singing as the Judy Jetson style. She may bring in a new element to the movie, but the film may lose the old element."
Waldo is known to baby boomer cartoon watchers as the voice of Josie from "Josie and the Pussycats," as well as the sexy race car driver Penelope Pitstop. She also supplied the vocals for Wilma Flintstone's rotund mother, a heavy-voiced overbearing mother-in-law to Fred.
Today, Waldo and her husband Robert E. Lee, the playwright known for "Inherit the Wind," live in the Los Angeles area, "around the corner from Steve Allen and Richard Crenna," she adds.
She is supplying voices for TV's "Smurfs" and she recently worked for Disney Studios, for the first time giving life to the wicked Maleficent in some coming cartoon recreations of "Sleeping Beauty."
I’m not a fan of ‘80s pop music (though at least it wasn’t autotuned) so I haven’t much good to say about Tiffany’s singing, but she was unfortunately put in an awkward situation. Here’s a teenager with no acting experience who had to re-record the work of a veteran who was loved and respected by fans. Here’s what she told USA Today’s Steve Jones in a piece published July 6, 1990.
Tiffany Finds New Voice as a 'Toon Teen
When Tiffany started work on Jetsons: The Movie, she wasn't sure how her Judy Jetson voice should sound.
Veteran cartoon actor Janet Waldo had spoken the spacey teen's lines for 28 years, but producers wanted Tiffany for the movie because they planned several musical numbers around Judy.
“I didn't know if I should try to imitate how I thought Judy always sounded or if I should make it `Tiffany does Judy,'” says the 18-year-old singer. “They decided they wanted her to sound a little older, and now she has a more breathy voice.”
Tiffany, who topped Billboard's pop album chart at 16 and had two No. 1 singles, is a longtime Jetsons fan. She had planned to be on just the soundtrack, but the producers let her do the dialogue, too, so that the voices would match.
A novice actress, she was daunted by the studio work, but Gordon Hunt, the film's recording director, helped her grow into the part.
“It was nice having patient people working with me,” she says. “It was hard doing the lines with the right expressions, but slowly but surely they brought it out of me.”
She said the movie will introduce her music both to parents and to kids who were too young to know her when her previous albums came out. None of the three songs she does for the movie will appear on her yet-untitled album set for September release.
Tiffany says that the album is a departure from her previous work, and that she's been working out with weights and aerobics to give herself a new look. She expects to begin touring in January.
“I'm doing R & B now and it is something I've wanted to do for a long time,” she says. “It's going to shock a lot of people.”
Janet Waldo was interviewed after the movie came out. She didn’t bother to see it. Critics gave it mixed to lukewarm reviews. Tiffany’s star had some of the shine off it by that point, so I suspect the throngs of her fans that MCA expected at theatres never materialised. I imagine the film mostly attracted nostalgic Gen Xers who kinda, sorta, remembered the show from their childhood and took their kids in an obligatory hunt for “family” entertainment.

Producer Mark Evanier says that Joe Barbera, in a very classy move, apologised to Janet in front of the who’s-who of the voice acting world who gathered at Don Messick’s retirement party in 1997. He has postulated, and I hope I’m not misinterpreting his comments, that the movie quite possibly wouldn’t have been made had the Tiffster not been involved. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were caught in the corporate maelstrom as much as Miss Waldo.

The good thing to me, speaking as a fan, is the large outpouring of support and affection that Janet Waldo received during this whole escapade. As you know, she passed away over two years ago, but people still love her and the original Jetsons TV show. The Tiffany tiff has turned out to be a mere footnote in the show’s history.


  1. Aw, let's give the Tiffster her due - she looked gorgeous in her '02 Playboy pictorial (and, yes, she's a natural redhead).

  2. I didn't know that Janet Waldo had all ready recorded her part.
    I wonder if her voice tracks were saved.
    It would be cool to have her tracks replace Tiffany's and then re-release the film.

    1. Precisely what I was thinking.

    2. I knew that back then. Janet has had since her life and afterward an official facebook page that she ran in her last years, she friended me, I;m still on it, and I am proud that our paths (online, anyhow!) crossed! (and I've met June FOray, who died a year later, both almsot 100, too, in 1986, though sadly it was for partly SMURGF, not BULLWINKLE fest. Us Jan fans know Waldo for better, earlier things than the SMURFS, which, btw I thoygh Chuck Jones would be involved with, Strawberry Shortcake too, given his preference for cutesy stuff-y'know, RAGEGGEDY ANN and such..tho he would'nt have used Jan et (s[eaking of which, outside Freleng at DFE in TINY TREE< did the WB animators just have it OUT for Janet? Not a conmspiracy theory, just wonderin'? TOo expensive? Not under contract, though? Sorry for the quesiton..!)SC

  3. My good friend Frank Andrina was animating on the movie. One day at lunch he told me about the Tiffiny thing with Universal. Not only had Janet Waldo recorded the voice already as reported, but scenes had already been animated and photographed in color. After he and I agreed that this was appalling, I said to Frank, "Besides, by the time the movie comes out, nobody will know who Tiffiny is." It's only because of the movie that anyone is talking about her now.

    1. To be fair, Mike, Tiffany did have a few pop hits that are still played on 80’s oldies stations, including a cover of I Think We’re Alone Now and an original, Could’ve Been. I think the general public today knows more of that than the Jetsons movie, given the fact that Hanna-Barbera is slowly slipping into ephemera.

  4. In 1989, I was doing middays at a TOP-40 FM station. The record rep brought Tiffany and her agent to the station. She was very nice and courteous to all of us. Sorry she got caught up in the middle of that mess. I had read in a trade magazine at the time about Janet's lines being completely re-recorded. Thought that was pretty low, but knew Tiffany had nothing to do with that decision. Never saw " The Jetson Movie ". I may be wrong, but I believe it was voice actor Bob Bergen who said after losing Daws, Mel, and George in a relatively close time period, the studios made a decision to never sign one voice actor to an exclusive contract to do a particular character. They wanted a pool of voice actors to call in just in case a sad event like that ever happened again.

    1. I wish Biob Bergen had done Yogi and the others. The Hanna-Barbera characters were never revived and they're right up there with Porky and the other Looney Tunes Bob did,. By the wya, Errl,given the current times, and his stutering how do they deal with it. Nice to see him revived since in part Porky's appearnace (Bob's character) meant no evil Daffy unlike with Bugs. Never saw it either, guess why: Boycotted due to the replacement. ANYone (from Dinah Shore to Nancy Cartwright to June Foray to Tara Strong as a Janet Waldo replacement? NEVER< not even,sorry, June Foray! As Janet was still around, voice actors OR stars, young or old, should'ne be doing Judy>We could make a case with Paul Winchell's replacement by Jim Cummings as Tigger, Billy West as Ren and Stimpy (as opposed to John Ren) in lieu of just Billy West being Stimpy (in Pooh's case, JIm Cummings WAS Pooh post Sterling Holloway Sorry for steering off tlopic but making similiar more recent cases of replacing somone when they were still around.) :)

  5. Any one who would see the Jetsons Movie trailer for the first time, probably yells out load, Who The Hell is Tiffany!