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Bill Farmer is looking to get Goofy at this weekend's Dayton Disneyana event

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Bill Farmer is looking to get Goofy at this weekend's Dayton Disneyana event

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Gawrsh, has it really been 25 years since Bill Farmer first began speaking for Goofy?

"Yeah, I better be careful here," Bill joked when we spoke on the phone yesterday. "Otherwise this might turn into a career."

Goofy and Bill Farmer. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

This Disney Legend was kind enough to carve out some time to chat last night. Which - given that Farmer was in right in the middle of packing for Dayton Disneyana 2011 (i.e. that Show & Sale event which the "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club will be presenting this Saturday & Sunday at the Holiday Inn -- Dayton Mall) - was awfully decent of the guy.

Anyway ... Getting back to Bill's big break: Believe it or not, it was back in 1986 that this then-fledgling voice actor first auditioned for this role. Bill had only been on the ground in Hollywood for 4 months when his agent asked Farmer if he did any Disney character voices.

"I told him that I did an okay Mickey, that my Donald Duck was pretty bad but Goofy ... I thought that I did a pretty decent Goofy," Bill recalled. "So my agent got me this cassette of Pinto Colvig doing the character's voice. And all weekend long, I listened to that tape while I practiced Goofy's voice. And then - on Monday - I went into my agent's office and laid down a track of me playing that character."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Then a few weeks went by and ... Well, Farmer thought that was the end of it. Just another audition that went nowhere. But then Disney called Bill's agent and said that they really liked his Goofy audition tape. Which is why they then asked him to come in and voice this classic Disney character for an upcoming TV special, Disney's DTV Doggone Valentine.

"So in January of 1987, I went in and did my first recording session as Goofy," Farmer continued. "Like every struggling voice actor out there, I was hoping that - if I did a really good job at my first recording session - that they might then invite me back. Maybe ask me to voice this character one or two more times."

Well, the folks at the Mouse House must have really liked Bill's vocal performance as that man / dog / whatever it is that Goofy is ... For nearly a quarter of a century (and some 2000 Disney-related jobs) later, Farmer is the Company's go-to guy whenever it comes to voicing this classically klutzy character.

Bill voiced both Bugs & Daffy in "8 Carrot," a particularly
memorable sketch from "Robot Chicken" 's second
season. Copyright Turner Broadcasting System,
Inc. A Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

Mind you, it's not just Goofy that Bill voices for the Studio. If you look over Farmer's vocal resume, you'll see that he does the voices for all sorts of Disney stars these days. Pluto, Horace Horsecollar, Practical Pig and Sleepy from the Seven Dwarfs. Not to mention Warner Bros. favorites like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester the Cat and Yosemite Sam.

"That's an interesting bit of trivia," Farmer pointed out. "That - while I'm best known for voicing Goofy - I've actually voiced more Warner Bros. characters over the past 25 years than I have Disney characters."

So what's the secret of Bill's success? Farmer is quick to credit the voice acting classes that he took early on with industry legend Daws Butler.

Daws Butler at an early Hanna-Barbera recording session.
Copyright Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A
Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

"Daws was the one who taught me that - when you're doing a voice for a cartoon character - it's not just about having a funny or memorable-sounding voice for that character. You've also got to remember that you're an actor who's playing a role while you're reading those lines," Farmer stated. "Which is why you should always try and give each character a little inner life, some soul or humanity when you voice them."

Bill also credits Daws with teaching him to tailor his vocal performance for the particular venue that this character will be working in.

"Take - for instance - if I'm voicing Goofy for an ice show. Given how bad the acoustics can be in some of those arenas, I always make a point of carefully enunciating Goofy's dialogue whenever I record stuff for ice shows," Farmer explained. "Which is different from how I do Goofy for 'Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.' Given that the audience for that Disney Junior program is primarily 5-year-olds, I always speak slowly and deliberately whenever I record my lines for that TV show."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

So what's the biggest acting challenge that Bill has faced while voicing this beloved Disney character? Well, it wasn't voicing the Goof for his 1995 feature film, "A Goofy Movie." Nor was it portraying Goofy for his 1992 Disney Afternoon series, "Goof Troop." Nor was it voicing Goofy and all of his relations for Disneyland's "The World According to Goofy" parade (which rolled through that theme park back during the Summer of 1992). No, what really challenged Farmer was voicing Goofy for last year's "Epic Mickey" video game.

"You see, the challenge there was that Goofy didn't actually speak over the course of 'Epic Mickey.' He'd just chuckle or react in a non-verbal way to whatever was going on in that game," Bill said. "Now those were some really weird recording sessions. I had no dialogue pages to work off of. The director would just show me a scene on the computer and say 'Now Goofy needs to make an affirmative noise here.' "

Which should have been really easy for Farmer. Given that Bill is such an affirmative guy.

The Goofy animatronic featured in the "Epic Mickey" video game looks a little different
from the classic version of this cartoon character. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"How affirmative?," you ask. Well, when he and I were speaking last night, it was just days after Farmer had gotten back from Las Vegas. Where - for the first time ever - Bill had been nominated for a Daytime Emmy in the "Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program" category for his vocal performance as Goofy. Only to then lose this award to Danny Jacobs, who voices the King Julien character of Nickelodeon's "The Penguins of Madagascar" show.

But did Farmer talk about his Daytime Emmy disappointment when we spoke yesterday? Nope. Bill only wanted to talk about how cool it was that he and his fellow Disney Legend Tony Anselmo (AKA the voice of Donald Duck) had been asked to present at last Friday's award ceremony, what an honor it was to be nominated and - because Farmer is, in many ways, just like the ever-optimistic character that he voices - " ... there's always next year."

Well, if you too would like the chance to chat with this very affirmative voice actor, Bill -- along with Margaret Kerry (i.e. the animation industry vet best known for being the live-action reference model that Walt Disney used for Tinker Bell while his animation studio was prepping its 1953 version of "Peter Pan") -- will be on hand at the Holiday Inn - Dayton Mall on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. & Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Margaret Kerry in her Tinker Bell costume for "Peter Pan" 's
live-action reference shoot. Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved

For further information on the "Plane Crazy" Chapter of the Disneyana Fan Club's annual Show & Sale (which will be raising funds for the Twigs Foundation for Childrens Hospital), please click on this link.

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