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Every now and then, someone in the biz will become just the right kind of hot commodity. Kids are going crazy for 'em -- slap their picture on a Trapper Keeper and it'll be gone from the shelf before you can say "cynical marketeering." What better way, then, to hype this piece of human merchandise than for them to star in their very own cartoon? Kids love cartoons, right? And here's the best part -- they don't even have to be in it!

After all, celebrities are busy people, right? They're going places, doing things, making appearances. It would be downright rude of you to ask them to actually record their own voices for their cartoon show, wouldn't it? Especially when the draw of the celebrity name is expected to make up for lack of decent writing and animation. Plus you would have to pay them!

Yes, all you need is a licensing fee, a barely reasonable voice impersonator, a dirt-cheap animator, and an option on IN SPACE and you've got a cash cow the whole family can enjoy!

Alternately, this can happen if you've got the license to some aging or dead celebrity's likeness, and you're willing to squeeze every last drop of money out of it.

Especially common with shows about musicians, since you can drop in a song by the musicians in each episode to up the appearance of celebrity-association. At least with the music segments you'll probably have to keep their singing voices, leaving your own Non-Singing Voice actors to play them for the rest of the show.

Often, the characters are Flanderized versions of the celebrities' public personas, and can therefore veer into third-party Adam Westing.

Examples of Not Quite Starring include:


  • In the Biopic The Jolson Story, Larry Parks played Al Jolson, but used Jolson's actual singing voice.
    • In another musical Biopic, Three Little Words, Helen Kane sang "I Wanna Be Loved By You" in her own voice, though Debbie Reynolds appeared as her on screen.
    • And let's not forget Jamie Foxx in Ray. Those songs are all the original recordings by Ray Charles.
  • Happens a lot in biopics; Angela Bassett played Tina Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It, but not only was Tina's singing voice used, she actually re-recorded the songs for the film. (Averted in the same movie, however: Laurence Fishburne, as Ike, actually does sing his parts on "Proud Mary.")
  • In Great Balls Of Fire! Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis has his singing done by The Killer himself (but Quaid really is playing the piano).

Video Games

  • In The Nameless Mod, a seven-years-in-the-making modification for the first Deus Ex game, the player character is the project's lead Trestkon. Lawrence "Trestkon" Laxdal does not provided the voice (although he does other characters). Jonas Waever, another high ranking person in the development, does voice himself.
  • Quite obviously (since the characters are kids), no pro voices him/herself (usually the Flanderized version) in the Backyard Sports series.
  • In Back to The Future: The Game, Christopher Lloyd voices Doc Brown, but Marty is voiced by soundalike AJ LoCasio. Michael J Fox gave Telltale Games the rights to use his likeness and his blessing, but wasn't available to do the voice acting himself. However, he does voice Marty's ancestors in the final episode. And future Marty!
  • The videogame "sequel" to Scarface used clips of Al Pacino's performance in the original film as well as a soundalike for new lines. Although this came with Pacino's blessing, who hand-picked his replacement: years of smoking made it impossible for Al to do the Tony Montana voice again.

Web Original

  • Although this is not related to the regular examples, the "Dan Green" videos from Yu-Gi-Oh the Abridged Series feature a Yami plush toy voiced by... LittleKuriboh. He is terrified of girls and has a very high opinion of himself.

Western Animation

  • The classic example is The Beatles, which involved animated versions of the Fab Four in random wacky hijinks (much like in their two then-recent films A Hard Days Night and Help), without involving any actual Beatles. Often, the mopheads were depicted playing the wrong instruments or singing the wrong parts of their songs and not getting their speaking voices exactly right, which they greatly disliked.
    • The Beatles went on to not star in the animated movie Yellow Submarine, although they did at least have the grace to show up for a few seconds at the end. Apparently, they thought the movie was much better than the series.
  • In the same vein, the leads from Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi are based on a real-life music duo who aren't fluent in English and therefore don't actually play themselves, except in brief live-action segments.
  • Hanna-Barbera did this a lot. The Laurel and Hardy Comedy Show, The Robonic Stooges, The Harlem Globetrotters and the Little Rascals segments of Richie Rich all exploited likenesses they had acquired. And those shows that didn't abuse celebs' likenesses at least stole their schticks.
    • In the case of both Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges, the real life ones had all passed on by then, so it couldn't be helped.
  • In 1970, Filmation produced Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down?. Although Lewis created and occasionaly worked on scripts for the cartoon series (which was largely a riff on his Double Vision performance in The Family Jewels), he didn't record his own voice (Filmation did ask him, but he declined because he felt other people could do his younger voice better than he did).
  • Also in the realm of early '90s land is Pro Stars, a toon about a supersquad of athletes (Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson) which featured Gretzky and Jackson at the begining and end, but didn't have any of the stars' voices in the cartoon.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures, like the Yellow Submarine movie, features Jackie in live action clips at the end, but nowhere else. Jackie is also one of the producers so he in this respect has some say so on how he wants to be in the show.
    • Jackie does provide his distinctive battle cries for the series. His spoken English wasn't considered good enough for a series aimed at children.
  • Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling featured a host of real professional wrestlers' likenesses without a single real voice among them. However, all 15 wrestlers appeared in the opening and closing, as well as bumper sketches. This caused a few problems, and even contributed to one of the featured Faces, Superfly, being fired.
  • Back to The Future: The Animated Series featured Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in live-action segments, but his animated counterpart was voiced by Dan Castellaneta (who also dubbed over Lloyd's voice in the live-action bits), and Marty was played by David Kaufman. Tom Wilson did return as the Tannen family, as did Mary Steenburgen (reprising her role from the third film).
    • Lloyd did voice Doc in the later video game (see above).
  • Aversion: The animated Mister T series does feature Mr. T as himself...which makes it even more insane.
  • The Jackson 5ive, and The Osmonds from the early Seventies.
  • The Abbott and Costello animated series actually managed to get Budd Abbott to do his own voice, but featured Stan Irwin as the voice of Lou Costello (the real Lou Costello being unfortunately deceased by this time).
  • The 1990s New Kids on the Block cartoon featuring brief live action clips of the singers.
  • Averted (according to the IMDb) with Hammerman which MC Hammer did his own voice.
  • Averted in The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang with Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, and Donny Most actually providing the voices.
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