I love cartoons. I grew up watching everything from Batman to Tiny Toons and everything in between. I became familiar with many voices over the years. I didn't always know the actors' names behind them, but I always recognized them, so there was a lot of me saying things like, "Hey, Gadget from the Rescue Rangers is the same voice as Babs Bunny and Dot Warner!" aka the amazing Ms. Tress MacNeille.
As I've gotten older, I've made it a point to learn names and faces to put to my favorite voices. One of those voices is Mr. Rob Paulsen. I bought his book Voice Lessons: How a Couple of Ninja Turtles, Pinky, and an Animaniac Saved My Life, just because it's his. I needed no other reason. Mr. Paulsen was involved, and that was all I needed to know because it goes without saying it would be amazing. He is literally the voice of my childhood. I could always recognize his voice come through in some form when watching my favorite animated shows. He was everywhere. He was Raphael, from Turtles, Yakko Warner from Animaniacs, PJ from the Goof Troop, Pinky from Pinky & The Brain, Steelbeak from Darkwing Duck, and so much more. Anyway, I started reading his book and then had the bright idea to look for the audiobook with the hopes he narrated it himself...He did. What's better than having Mr. Paulsen read to you? Not much.
Not only was it the best thing to hear Mr. Paulsen's voice tell you his story, voices and all, but his story was wonderful in so many ways. It tells of his early years in Michigan, his time spent on the road with the Covenant Players, his time auditioning for commercials and acting roles, and the time he discovered a love of voice work. The rest is history since he is one of the busiest and best voice actors out there.
His story also covers his journey through the cancer ward, both as a guest and a patient. He managed to make me go from almost crying to laughing out loud. He kept a positive attitude and looked at everything in the best possible way he could. That is not easy to do. Anyone who has ever experienced a traumatic health experience can tell you it's not fun. It's sometimes very hard to find the positive. The uncertainty, the fear, and the pain can be overwhelming and it often drops people to their knees. But Mr. Paulsen rose to the occasion and fought his way out the other side. He did it with humor and as much joy as possible. Voice Lessons is an amazing book, with a lot of humor, struggle, life lessons, and outlooks, that anyone could benefit from.
I'm glad he is still here, I'm glad he can still do what he loves, and I wish him many more happy and healthy years. I mean, who else was going to voice Yakko in the Animaniacs reboot?.... Trick question, no one could voice Yakko besides Mr. Paulsen.