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Interview: Shannon Farnon, Super Friends' Original Wonder Woman
Shannon
              Farnon

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A Wonderful BIG THANKS to Shannon Farnon for her participation in this interview.
 


I am honored to have come into contact with Shannon Farnon, the original voice actress of Wonder Woman in the long-running "Super Friends" cartoon series.  This interview was conducted in August, 2012.  Wonder Woman has always been my favorite superhero, so questions about Ms. Farnon playing the legendary lasso-looping lady came easy.  Shannon has had a very interesting show business career and I encourage you to seek out her other work.

Polar Blair:
How did you get into voice acting?  Was it something you always wanted to do?

Shannon Farnon: Yes, I always wanted to use my voice for narrations, ads, etc., but never dreamed I'd wind up doing cartoon work.

P.B. When you auditioned for "Super Friends", did you initially try out for Wonder Woman?

S.F. I was called by a director for whom I'd done an on-camera commercial for Flintstone Vitamins.  I auditioned, sent the tape to the network, and voila!

P.B. What did you know about the Wonder Woman character before your audition?

S.F. I had read the comic books as a child so I was familiar with Wonder Woman, but the director made the choices as how to play her.

P.B. "Super Friends" was the first time Wonder Woman had a series, animated or live-action.  Did this make it easier for you and the show's creators to define Wonder Woman's on-screen persona, or more difficult?

S.F. It probably made things easier, but we did change Wonder Woman along the way from very butch to somewhat softer.  It often depended on the people at the network in any given year as to how he/she considered Wonder Woman should sound.

P.B. Before the "Super Friends" show, the only resource for studying Wonder Woman's character was comic books.  Did you read any Wonder Woman comics in preparation for this role?

S.F. No, I went script to script and did up to three character voices in any one segment.

P.B. Wonder Woman was given a distinct on-screen personality for the first time in "Super Friends".  She was like a real person, more so than the other heroes.  Do you think this portrayal rubbed off in her later comic adventures?

S.F. It probably did, depending on the writers at any given time.  When we later did promos for Turner Cartoon Network, we were all hysterical in the recording studio with the funny material.

P.B. How close is Shannon Farnon's voice to Wonder Woman's voice?

S.F. The voice I use for Wonder Woman is very strong, muscled, superheroish.  It is not an every day kind of voice.

P.B. When people hear you speak, are you recognized as Wonder Woman?

S.F. No, I am not.

P.B. When "Super Friends" began, Wonder Woman comics were in a sales slump.  The cartoons are credited to re-popularizing the character.  You must feel a great sense of satisfaction.

S.F. I am very proud that I was the one who "fleshed" her out in "real life".

P.B. How satisfied were you with Wonder Woman's character in the cartoons?  Is there anything you would have done different, given the opportunity?

S.F. I was very selfish with Wonder Woman's creation and was sad to see others voice her later on.  Such is life.  It would have been great had she wound up with her own Saturday morning cartoon, but it didn't happen.

P.B. "Super Friends" went through many incarnations over the years, some more serious in tone than others.  Do you prefer Wonder Woman as a lighter or darker heroine?

S.F. I preferred Wonder Woman to remain in superhero mode like "the guys", but soften when the need arose.  I liked her to keep the feminine side and show young women it's okay to be strong.

P.B. You were "Super Friends" first Wonder Woman, but not the last.  When did you leave the series and why?

S.F. It's a simple Hollywood story.  A new director came in, auditioned his own people, and his lady friend got the job (she is a terrific voice person by the way).  That was difficult for me due to the fact that they also called me in to "audition" for the role I'd already done for 10 years.

P.B. You were in good company with the cast of "Super Friends"; there was a wide array of great voice talent.  Was there anyone in particular with whom you shared a great chemistry?

S.F. I felt close to the entire core cast...all very professional people, but we didn't party together.

P.B. Many people know you were the voice of Wonder Woman, but you also supplied voice for other animated characters.

S.F. Besides "Super Friends" and "Challenge of the Super Friends", and the incidental voices we were contracted to do in each show, the only other cartoon series I did was "Valley of the Dinosaurs".  In that series, my main character was Kim.

P.B. What is your favorite line of dialogue as Wonder Woman?

S.F. I loved all the "Great" phrases, i.e. "Great Hera", but I don't have a piece of dialogue that I could call my favorite.

P.B. You and the "Super Friends" cartoons really gave Wonder Woman's popularity a shot in the arm.  The live-action series with Lynda Carter further cemented Wonder Woman's reputation as an A-list superheroine.  Do you feel the work you did helped the live-action series become successful?

S.F. I'd like to think I did, but who knows?!

P.B. How much did the live-action "Wonder Woman" series borrow from the character's on-screen presence in "Super Friends"?  Clearly the way Wonder Woman was presented in the cartoons gave Lynda Carter and that show's creators a model from which to work.

S.F. Perhaps you are right, but I would guess no more so than the Wonder Woman comic books.

P.B. How does the live-action Wonder Woman compare to the animated Wonder Woman?

S.F. I only watched a few episodes and I didn't see any particular comparison.  I felt the live-action folks were trying to portray her sexier side rather than her Amazonian qualities.

P.B. Wonder Woman has been portrayed many times since your debut as the amazing Amazon, mostly in animation.  How do these various incarnations of the character rate, in your opinion?

S.F. To be honest, I have never watched them.

P.B. You do something very cool through your website.  You actually offer personalized outgoing phone messages as Wonder Woman.  How did this idea develop?

S.F. I have two wonderful, creative young men working with me; Fans who probably know more about my work than I.  It was a collaborative effort from start to present.  One of the men contacted me for an interview and the idea grew from there.

P.B. Since you started voicing Wonder Woman, how have your personal feelings evolved toward the character?

S.F. I am protective of Wonder Woman's image and don't like to see her veer too far from the Amazon trying to make a difference in the world.

P.B. You've had a full career outside Wonder Woman and voice work.  What are some of your favorite live-action roles from the past and present?

S.F. A role that was great fun to play was Linda Purl's mother in "Leo & Loree" for director Jerry Paris.  Having worked in so many areas of the entertainment business, I really haven't done what I would consider "great" roles.  My focus was broad, doing print work, industrial films, voice work (ads, narration, cartoons), dubbing work, commercials, TV, and films.

Visit www.shannonfarnon.com