Lorenzo Music was the original voice of Garfield. He played the iconic cat on the Garfield and Friends cartoon series, part of CBS’ Saturday morning lineup from 1988 through 1995.
Music came to the Garfield gig with a long resume and a familiar ring to his voice, at least for fans of 1970s sitcoms. Indeed, you yourself may have wondered why Garfield seemed so familiar if you tuned him in during his animated run on Saturday mornings.
That’s likely because Music voiced Carlton the Doorman on Rhoda from 1974 through 1978. How many times did Rhoda answer the buzzer in her apartment only to hear the obvious and expected refrain: “Hello, this is Carlton your doorman.”?
More than you can count, probably.
Before Rhoda, Music was the co-creator of The Bob Newhart Show.
Music continued to provide Garfield’s voice in various specials right up until his death from lung and bone cancer in 2001.
The Original Original Voice of Garfield
OK, technically, Music wasn’t the original voice of Garfield at all …
That honor belonged to Scott Beach, who drew the role for Garfield’s first animated television appearance in a 1980 anthology called The Fantastic Funnies.
Other Garfield Voices
Aside from Music and Beach, these men have also lent their voices to the lasagna-snarking tabby:
- Tom Smothers, in 1991
- Bill Murray, from 2004 through 2006
- Jon Banard, from 2004 through 2016
- Frank Welker, in 2004 and again from 2007 through the present
Moviegoers may well remember Murray as the definitive Garfield voice actor, as the comedian voiced the role in both Garfield: The Movie (2004) and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.
Unofficial Garfield Voice Actors
Aside from those “official” Garfield voiceovers, several other actors have taken some, uh, unconventional turns as the black and orange hero. Among those are …
- Fred Tatasciore on Robot Chicken in 2006
- Seth Green on Robot Chicken in 2011-12
- Kevin Shinick on Mad in 2011-12
- Dan Castellaneta on The Simpsons in 2017
- Dan Milano on Robot Chicken in 2020
So, why all the different actors?
Maybe it’s because Garfield’s voice needs to change as he ages.
Or, maybe it’s simply because no one man can convey the grandeur of Garfield all on his own.
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