Remembering The Voice Of Babe The Pig
ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:
You probably won't realize that you recognize Christine Cavanaugh until you hear her. The actress gave voice to popular cartoon and film characters throughout the 1990s, and last month, she passed away. NPR's Jasmine Garsd has this remembrance.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BABE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As character) Pigs are definitely stupid.
CHRISTINE CAVANAUGH: (As Babe) Ahem, excuse me.
JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: That is the unmistakably lovable voice of a heroic little pig from the 1995 film "Babe," and it's the voice of actress Christine Cavanaugh.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BABE")
CAVANAUGH: (As Babe) I'm a large white.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Yes, that's your breed, dear. What's your name?
CAVANAUGH: (As Babe) I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Well, what did your mother call you to tell you apart from your brothers and sisters?
CAVANAUGH: (As Babe) She called us all babe.
GARSD: Cavanaugh did not start off as a voice actress. She had small parts in TV shows like "Cheers." But her big break came in 1991, when she joined the cast of the Emmy award-winning cartoon "Rugrats" as the cowardly Chucky Finster.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUGRATS")
CAVANAUGH: (As Chucky Finster) I'm not scared. I just don't want to be potty-trained, that's all. It's just not right.
CHERYL CHASE: (As Angelica Pickles) Don't you dummies know anything? Everybody who's anybody is potty-trained.
CAVANAUGH: (As Chucky Finster) Well, not me. I'm never going to do it. They can't make me. I'm going to wear my diapers forever and nobody is going to stop me.
PAUL GERMAIN: She was doing a slight variation on her normal voice to play Chucky, but it was her voice.
GARSD: Paul Germain is one of the creators and producers of "Rugrats."
GERMAIN: Christine was able to convey so much emotion in the character, and so much pain and change in emotion. It was just amazing.
GARSD: The show received critical praise, and until "SpongeBob" came along, it was Nickelodeon's longest-running cartoon. In a statement to NPR, the network said, Christine gave voice to one of the most beloved characters in Nickelodeon's history in Chucky Finster.
In 1996 she joined the cast of "Dexter's Laboratory" as Dexter himself, a child who was a genius scientist with an ambiguous foreign accent.
Here's Dexter firing his own sister from his laboratory.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DEXTER'S LABORATORY")
CAVANAUGH: (As Dexter) Dee Dee, how long have we known each other? Our whole lives, you say? Do not interrupt, never. Or - or, should I say, you never knew me? Because if you did, you would know I am a soul who requires peace, quiet and most importantly, solitude.
GARSD: Dan Sarto is the publisher and editor-in-chief at Animation World Network, a website about animation and visual effects. He says a voice actor can make or break a cartoon character.
DAN SARTO: The voices are so critical, they make the characters. And some of our most iconic and famous characters that were made that way because of the voice actor behind the character.
GARSD: Cavanaugh retired from voice acting in 2001. She died on December 22. The cause of death has not yet been reported. Christine Cavanaugh was 51. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF "RUGRATS" THEME SONG) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.