Friday, August 12, 2011

Super ‘70s and ‘80s: “Super Friends”—Jack Angel (Flash, Hawkman, Samurai)

Introduction to series “Super ‘70s and ‘80s.”

Introduction to subseries "Super Friends" (including a list of interviewees).

When I first contacted Jack, he wrote “I don’t do Facebook, Myspace, head space, Spaceballs, or any of that stuff. I just do e-mail, as old-fashioned as that may seem.” And I loved this. 

How did you get the job on Super Friends?

My agent sent me to Hanna-Barbera to audition. I got three roles.

Taken by Leonard Nimoy (you heard me) at his Hollywood office/studio, 1972 or 1973.
How familiar with the characters were you before you got the job?
I was a comic book nut when I was a kid and most of the Super Friends had their own comics. Super Samurai was a creation of H-B, I suppose to placate Asian kids, as was Black Vulcan and Chief Whatzizname.

What challenges were involved in recording SF?
I had to do three voices. All had to sound different. And Samurai spoke some Japanese so one of the cartoonists [who was Japanese] always came to the recording session to ensure I spoke the words correctly.

Did you ever feel Samurai (or any of the other minority characters that H-B created for the show) was stereotypical or even sometimes offensive?

Not at all.

Of the episodes you were on, do you have a favorite?

I never watched the show much, but one episode stood out because Hawkman said the same line over and over, to the point that whenever it was my turn to talk, everyone laughed. “I’ve got to warn Superman before it’s too late.” “I’ve got to warn Wonder Woman before it’s too late.” “I’ve got to warn Flash before it’s too late.” I think the writers didn’t quite know what to do with Hawkman.

Were there any you ended up being disappointed with?

Yes! That one.

It must have been a different feeling in the 1970s to see your show on TV and then feel you might never see it again because VCRs and DVDs didn’t exist yet. Do you own any
Super Friends DVDs?
No. I think most of the cast never watched the show much so I don’t think there would be a feeling of loss. The only loss I ever felt was when Hanna-Barbera sold the library to Turner and in the negotiations the actors lost a chunk of residual money. We are all “professional actors,” after all, which means we do it mostly for the money.

How much time, if any, did you spend with the other voice actors when you weren’t working?

We were all “professional” friends, but none of us really hung out together very much. Lunch or dinner once in a while, or we’d see each other at parties.

Which voice actors were you most friendly with?

Michael Bell, Danny Dark, Ted Cassidy, Bob Holt, Buster Jones, Frank Welker, Casey Kasem, and Bill Woodson.

If so, any interesting stories about the voice actors?

Ted Cassidy was huge. He drove a Porsche and to see him getting in and out of the thing was a show in itself.

Which cast members are you still in touch with today?

Danny, Ted, and Bob are all dead. I keep in e-mail contact with Michael and Frank.

Had you been in touch continuously since the show or did you lose and then regain touch at one point?

We were all at the same talent agency or worked on the same shows over the years and still see each other at session.

Do you have any fan letters from the 1970s or 1980s?
I get fan letters from time to time. I answer them and then throw them away.

Did you attend any of the parties at Danny Dark’s house?

Yes. Danny had a great house in Malibu and my wife and I attended a few of them. In fact, before we were married, she used to house-sit for Danny and I would go there to be with her. She was his agent so she got invited a lot. NBC parties, mostly. Danny was the voice of NBC promos for fifteen years. I also did promos at NBC for ten years.

I heard you guys did sketches poking fun at
Super Friends. What do you remember about that?
That was not one of the parties I attended.

Do you have any other SF memorabilia from the era (i.e. birthday cards signed by cast members, etc.)?

None, other that a Hawkman doll and a Flash doll I bought. [NOTE: To complete his collection of roles, I sent him the Samurai figure from the package above.] By the way, the comic book version of Flash wore a tin had and looked more like the god Mercury. Somewhere along the way he got a wardrobe makeover.

Do you ever get e-mails from SF fans?

Sometimes. They mostly want autographed pictures.

When was the last time you watched one of your SF episodes?

Thirty some-odd years ago.

How do you look back on your time on SF?

We didn’t know it then, but those days would turn out to be some of the “good ol’ days.” 

How many kids do you have?

Three, one of each.

What do your children and grandchildren (if applicable) think of your time as a superhero?

I don’t have grandkids and my kids don’t talk to me very much.

May I ask what you mean by that?

They don’t like me.

How aware are you of the influence that SF had on the current generation of comic book writers?

I never stopped to think about it, but as in everything, today’s artists stand on the shoulders of yesterday’s artists in all things.

Has anyone else interviewed you about SF?

No. Transformers and G.I. Joe, but not SF.

Have you ever participated (i.e. signed autographs) at a comic convention? If not, would you be willing to (if the convention paid your way)?

I’ve never been asked. I probably would go, but I’d have to know more details before committing.

Anything else about the experience I didn’t cover that you’d like to add?

Every once in a while, I run into a businessman in his thirties or forties who acts very businesslike until he finds out I was Hawkman and then he instantly reverts to being ten years old again. It’s amusing to watch the transformation.

10/20/21 addendum: Jack Angel passed away yesterday, 10/19/21.

Next: Michael Rye (Green Lantern, Apache Chief).

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