Actor enjoyed three-decade run on beloved children's cartoon
By: John Maxwell
10 months ago
Heather North first entered show biz as a child in the 1950s, singing and competing in pageants. As a young adult in the 1960s, she began appearing on television in shows like “My Three Sons,” “Gidget,” and “The Monkees.” She co-starred alongside Kurt Russell — and a chimpanzee — in the 1971 Disney movie “The Barefoot Executive.” But what most fans will affectionately remember her for is her thirty-year stint on "Scooby-Doo," performing the voice of danger-prone Daphne Blake.
North died Nov. 29 from a heart attack at her Los Angeles home. She was 71.
Daphne’s original voice, Stefanianna Christopherson, left the show after its first season in 1969 to get married. Nicole Jaffe, who voiced the character Velma, was North’s roommate at the time. She recommended her friend to the show’s producers; North auditioned, and the part became hers.
It was a gig that, for decades, would mesh perfectly with what would turn out to be the role North personally found most fulfilling: being a wife and mother.
Her life could have taken a very different turn. In 1967, she was under consideration for the part that Vicki Lawrence eventually got on “The Carol Burnett Show.” When that door closed, another opened — to the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
Her longtime friend Jodie Mann tells Legacy that, while appearing on "Days," North met veteran TV producer H. Wesley Kenney. They fell in love, and they married in 1971. After getting married, North realized she was losing her passion for acting, and retired from most of show business.
The one job she kept was Daphne. It was fun and convenient: She’d walk 10 minutes to the nearby studio, solve a mystery with the Scooby gang, and be home in time to pick her son up from school. The same voice that entertained millions of children with exclamations of “Jeepers!” could be heard cheering her son on at his basketball games.
When she wasn’t recording or homemaking, she was crafting or volunteering with her church. Christmastime was a very special season for her: “She spent months and months buying the perfect gift for each of her friends and family,” Mann recalled. “She was a very, very generous human being.”
North would also take time to respond to fans who sent her mail, sending them signed publicity photos with Daphne and Scooby on her shoulders.
This bond with her fans became even more appreciated when she grew ill later in life, and her health deteriorated. North was amazed that she continued to receive fan mail more than a decade after her final 2003 performance as Daphne. And following her death, her family and close friends were stunned by the extent of the media coverage, as national outlets ranging from the Hollywood Reporter and Entertainment Weekly to CBS and the Huffington Post reported the news.
“She would have been blown away,” Mann said. “She was valuable to us, I just didn’t know it would be that important to people in the community.”
Heather North was preceded in death by her husband, H. Wesley Kenney, and her step-daughter, Kara. She is survived by her son Kevin, granddaughter Jocelyn, stepson Wesley III, stepdaughter Nina, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.