Monday, October 10, 2011

Super ‘70s and ‘80s: “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!”—Nicole David (Jaffe) (Velma 1, 1969-74)

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

Introduction to subseries “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” (including list of interviewees).

What were you doing professionally before you were cast as Velma?

I was doing You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The people from Hanna-Barbera—director Gordon Hunt—came to see the show. I must’ve sort of looked like the girl.

Did he approach you after the show?

Yes, he sort of said something after the show and then my agency called me and said he wanted to meet me. They showed me the drawings and gave me lines to read. They must have shown pictures of Velma. She looked like me enough that I could see why he wanted me to come in. He hired me.

What were you told and/or shown about the show before auditioning?

I don’t know if you should write this. In those days, I wanted to be Daniel Day Lewis, Emma Thompson. I was not interested in being in voice-over. I needed to make a living and wasn’t doing anything else at the moment. [With Scooby-Doo], I didn’t think I was doing something iconic. It was like getting a soap opera when you wanted to be in a Scorsese film. I thought it was like a drive-by.

How old were you in 1969?

I don’t remember but young. In Charlie Brown, I played Peppermint Patty. I could see afterward why [Hanna-Barbera] wanted me. I played Patty like a know-it-all, which I guess I am. That character is kind of like Velma. [But] she was sweeter than Velma.

Did you know any of the other voice actors on the show beforehand?

No. The only person I knew was Heather North, but neither of us had any idea what this would be like. Heather was more of a girl next door. She was a great girl. I assumed everyone would look like their character on some level. I don’t even think I thought about the dog. I thought this was a stepping stone to paying my rent and I would go off and do greater things.

Did you socialize with them at the time?

Never. I don’t know what voice people are like today but in those days, I thought they were kind of weird. Somebody of 40 was playing somebody of 20. Somebody was playing a dog. It wasn’t like doing a movie when everybody bonds. Before the show, Heather was on Days of Our Lives. I don’t know how we met. We shared an apartment on Crescent Heights. But I didn’t consider her a voice person. I considered her a normal actress.

You were not living together when on the show?

I don’t think so. Heather would remember.

Did you like the show?

I loved Mr. Barbera. He was very handsome. I loved Gordon Hunt. They were two really regular terrific people. They were very nice to us.

What about the show itself? 

I don’t really remember. I can tell you when I first really appreciated the show for real. I met Lauryn Hill (the singer) and she must’ve found out that I did that show and she was so impressed. She happens to be really smart. She was an amazing young woman. When she started saying how great the show was, I watched three or four episodes to figure out what she was talking about. That was many years [after I was on it]. I would say twenty years ago. [When I was on it], I certainly didn’t understand the things everybody [would talk] about later. I was not smart enough when I was young. I had no idea that I was stoned eating those snacks [refers to Scooby Snacks]. Not because I wasn’t ever getting stoned. [But in general] this was not my life. I was in acting class with Lee Strasberg. I knew about great acting. I didn’t know anything about voice actors. Heather is probably a better judge.

Do you have a favorite episode? 

I don’t.

Any funny anecdotes about working on the show that you’ve told to friends over the years?

One of the highlights was that they fed us. They gave us expensive cookies. This was an amazing thing. I had no money. I remember thinking they must be very rich. I remember how really good Casey Kasem and everybody was at their jobs. They changed from one voice to another in an amazing fashion.

Have you had interaction with them since the show ended?

I think all the original cast got called back to do a few more of the movies. That was maybe five years ago. That was the first time I saw anyone since the day we finished. That was very different this time. I was glad I didn’t have to do it anymore. I could see that my voice had changed. It’s lower now. I didn’t do it anywhere near as well as I had done it before. I also noticed that I liked my character after Lauryn Hill said she liked my character. Other people over the years have told me about my character.

Were you using your real voice for Velma?

No, I created a voice. It wasn’t that far away but I created a voice.

Were you all recording at the same time in the same room?

I don’t remember. The most recent time I think we all were at a table with mikes. When I auditioned I was in a booth.

Did the voice actors ever joke about the show and the characters—i.e. if Fred and Daphne were a secret item, if there was drug innuendo like so many people speculate, etc.?

No. I didn’t care if they were an item.

Did you do any appearances for Scooby-Doo at the time?

I don’t think so. I was busy. I don’t know if they did. When I came back all those years later, the difference between Casey between any other star was that he knew was a star and he was treated like a star. Not a bad thing because he was famous.

Did you receive any fan letters while you were on the show?

Yes. I still receive fan letters and people asking for autographs.

Still have any of the 1970s ones today?

No, I threw them out. I wouldn’t have kept them.

What did you do after you left the show? 

I think I did a movie with Elvis Presley. I’m not sure if that came first. [NOTE: That came first.]

I realized on that movie that I did not like acting. I wasn’t very good and wasn’t interested in being good but I was interested in helping people that were good. Someone suggested I agent—[which I did] and I loved it.

What are you doing these days professionally? Still agenting?

I am. I work with music people, actors for movies, TV, and whatever they want to do. Not voice-overs. [clients have included Elijah Wood, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Lauryn Hill, Melanie Griffiths, Cher, Patrick Swayze, Roseanne]

A few notes from a 1/13/96 article in The Independent (UK) that add to Nicole’s background:

  • almost always on phone
  • five feet tall
  • “one of Hollywood’s most powerful”
  • can influence how a script is written
  • high school dropout
  • born in Canada
  • met shoe salesman Arnold Rifkind, who had sharp business mind; combined with her understanding of actors, they formed small talent agency which was eventually bought by William Morris
  • “both are now rich”
  • “I would not be good at having kids and I know having them would make me a worse agent. But the quality of mothering is used in every aspect of my work.”

What do you like to do when not working?

I’m married. I like spending time with my husband. I like movies, reading, going for walks. I like working with Keep a Child Alive, a charity run by a wonderful woman that brings medicine to children with AIDS.

If you have children, how many/ages?

I do not have children.

Did you have any sense at the time that this show would have such staying power?

I didn’t have any sense of what the show was. I’m happy that children love it so much.

Have you ever been interviewed about your Scooby-Doo work before?

I have, once, but I’ve never given such an honest interview [as this one]. [That first time] I think I wrote my answers.

Do you own any Scooby-Doo memorabilia (dolls, books, DVDs, etc.)?

I think I may have some of those animation cels. I think I’ve sold most of them for charity or given them to children.

screen shot from bonus material on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: The Complete Series DVD

Do you have any of your original Scooby-Doo paperwork—scripts, your contract, letters from Hanna-Barbera, birthday cards from the cast, fan letters (from the 1970s), etc.?

Probably somewhere.

Do you have a continuing relationship with Warner Bros. re: Scooby-Doo? For example, have you been invited to the live action movie premieres, etc.?

I have really good relationships with Warner Brothers but not about Scooby-Doo.

Would you be open to appearing at a pop culture convention to meet fans and sign autographs?

Yes, I would. I think it’d be interesting; it’d be an education.

Have you been asked before?

I don’t think so. If you go to a convention, bring me with you.

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