Friday, January 28, 2011
Celebrity Grave: "Otis Campbell" Harold "Hal" Smith 1994
Harold John "Hal" Smith (August 24, 1916 – January 28, 1994) was an American character actor and voice-over artist. Smith is best known as Otis Campbell, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show and was the voice of many characters in animated cartoon shorts. He is also known to radio listeners as John Avery Whittaker on Adventures in Odyssey.
He was born in Petoskey, Michigan. Smith spent a significant part of his early years living in Massena, New York and graduated from the Massena High School class of 1936. His mother was a seamstress, and his father worked at the local Aluminum Company Of America. He later worked as a disc jockey and voice talent for WIBX Radio in Utica, New York from 1936-1943. After serving in the Special Services of World War II, he traveled to Hollywood and appeared in many television shows such as I Married Joan, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Red Skelton Show.
His most famous on screen character was Otis Campbell, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show during most of the series run from 1960 to 1968. He would often comically let himself into his regular jail cell using the key which was stored within reach of the two comfortable jail rooms. Hal Smith was the opposite of his character. According to longtime friends Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, he did not drink in real life. Otis Campbell stopped appearing in the show towards the end of the series due to concerns by the show's sponsors over the portrayal of excessive drinking. Smith appeared as Calver Weems in the Don Knotts comedy, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in 1966, playing essentially the same town drunk character as Otis Campbell.
Hal Smith did play Otis Campbell one more time in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry. In the TV movie, Otis is the town's ice cream truck driver and is reported to have been "sober for years." Smith later used his Otis Campbell character in commercial spots for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization and appeared as Otis in Alan Jackson's "Don't Rock the Juke Box" music video.
He also had a morning children's show at television station KTLA called The Pancake Man, sponsored by The International House of Pancakes during the late 1960s. He reprised the Pancake Man role as "Kartoon King" in an episode of The Brady Bunch in 1971 called "The Winner."
Smith did much work in Hanna-Barbera cartoons in the 1970s, and in the early 1960s, he voiced Taurus, the Scots-accented mechanic of the spaceship Starduster for the series Space Angel. According to the book: Space Patrol, missions of daring in the name of early television "It's rumored that Gene Roddenberry was a huge fan of the show and patterned Star Trek's engineer, 'Mr Scott,' after McCloud's Scottish sidekick, 'Taurus.'" He is also mentioned in the ending credits of Hong Kong Phooey. In 1977, he was the voice of Grandpa Josiah in the cartoon TV special, Halloween Is Grinch Night. He was very active with voices in 1980s. He was Sludge in the Smurfs television series and Goofy in Mickey's Christmas Carol. For Disney's DuckTales and Super Ducktales he was the voice of Scrooge McDuck's rival Flintheart Glomgold and absent-minded scientist Gyro Gearloose.
Smith also voiced the Disney cartoon character Goofy after Pinto Colvig died and also provided the voice of Owl and Winnie-the-Pooh in many of the Winnie the Pooh shorts and feature films. In the 1960s, he was one of the most sought after voice actors in Hollywood. He provided the voices for many characters in Davey and Goliath. From 1960 to 1961, he was the voice of Elmer Fudd after Arthur Q. Bryan died. In 1963 he voiced Dr. Todd Goodheart, Belly Laguna and Dr. Von Upp in the Funny Company cartoon series. From 1964 to 1966, he was the voice of Yappee in the Hanna Barbera cartoon shorts Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey. He was also the voice of Cosmo Creeps and Mr. Bluestone the Great/Phantom, in Scooby Doo, Where are You?
In 1983, he reprised his role as Owl and voiced Winnie The Pooh in the Disney Channel's Welcome to Pooh Corner television series to replace longtime actor Sterling Holloway. In 1988's, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh TV series, Jim Cummings took over as Pooh with Tigger (same voice actor as The Tasmanian Devil on Looney Tunes) while Smith again played Owl. The two voice actors sometimes rotated the voice of Winnie the Pooh. In 1991, Smith provided the voice of Philippe the horse in the 1991 Disney film Beauty and the Beast.
Starting in 1987 he was the voice of the main character John Avery Whittaker on the Focus on the Family radio drama Adventures in Odyssey. He was responsible for much of the cast joining the show after he signed on, and he continued recording episodes until a few weeks before his death, even while his health deteriorated. Additionally, he voiced dozens of other characters during the over 250 episodes he participated in.
Smith was also very active working in television commercials as various characters. He provided on screen promoting for 3 Musketeers, United Van Lines, Hickory Farms, Toyota, Green Giant, General Mills, Mattel, Pizza Hut, Chicken of the Sea tuna, Ivory soap, Doctor Ross dog food, Pioneer Chicken, Bell Telephone Company, and hundreds of other companies.
Smith was a long-time active member of Westwood Hills Congregational Church in Los Angeles. He is entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, California.
1.^ Michaud, John D. III, ed (2004) . More than Otis: No Bull! A Salute to Hollywood Actor Hal J. Smith (1st edition ed.). Massena, New York: Stubbs Printing.