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Interview: Shannon Farnon, Super Friends' Original
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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
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
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
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
P.B. How does the
live-action Wonder Woman compare to the animated Wonder
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
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
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
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
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