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Janet Waldo Obituary

2/4/1920 - 6/12/2016| Visit Guest Book
Janet Waldo (Everett Collection)
Janet Waldo (Everett Collection)
Janet Waldo, the voice actress behind characters including Judy Jetson of "The Jetsons" and Josie of "Josie and the Pussycats," died June 12, 2016. She was 96.

Born Feb. 4, 1920, in Yakima, Washington, Waldo studied theater at the University of Washington. It was there that she caught the attention of Bing Crosby, who discovered her when she won a theatrical award. He paved the way for a screen test, and a successful Waldo soon began appearing in small roles in movies including "Zaza" (1938) and "Waterloo Bridge" (1940).

The movie roles provided a leg up for Waldo, but it was another introduction made by Crosby that truly made her career. In addition to movies, Crosby was in radio, hosting "Kraft Music Hall," and he invited Waldo to the radio station. The medium instantly clicked for her – as she told MovieWeb in a 2011 interview, "I was totally relaxed doing radio. … I thought, 'Hey, this is great. You don't have to wear makeup or memorize your lines. You don't have to wear false eyelashes.'"

She soon signed on with the "Lux Radio Theatre" program, hosted by the legendary moviemaker Cecil B. DeMille. That show opened the doors to many others, including the radio incarnation of "The Ozzie and Harriet Show." But the program that truly set the stage for her long-lasting career as a voice actress was "Meet Corliss Archer," which debuted in 1943.

Waldo was the star and title character of "Meet Corliss Archer" for eight years, providing the voice for a perky teen girl as she experienced life with her friends and family. When the program made the jump to television and movies, Waldo didn't follow – Ann Baker took the role on TV and Shirley Temple was the big-screen Corliss. But a short-lived 1948 "Meet Corliss Archer" comic book series used Waldo as the model for the character.

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Waldo was long past her teen years when she took on the role of Judy Jetson with the 1962 debut of "The Jetsons," but she still had a voice full of breathless enthusiasm to offer to the futuristic teen. As she recalled later in her interview with MovieWeb, "Judy was a cinch, because I just did my own voice." Waldo played Judy on the original series, the 1985 series revival and two television movies, "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones" (1987) and "Rockin' With Judy Jetson." She was tapped to perform as Judy in the 1990 theatrical film "The Jetsons," even recording her role, but she was later replaced by the pop star Tiffany in a widely criticized move.

Judy Jetson was one of Waldo's favorite roles, and another was Josie of "Josie and the Pussycats." Waldo voiced the young rocker in the original 1970 cartoon as well as the 1972 spinoff, "Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space." The character's singing voice, though, was provided by another voice artist. Another popular character that Waldo loved performing was Penelope Pitstop, a character on the 1968 animated series "Wacky Races" and the 1969 spinoff "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop." Waldo was able to reprise that role decades later when "Wacky Races" became a 2000 video game for PlayStation and other platforms, and she voiced Penelope again.

Waldo's additional voice credits are many, with notable shows including "The Flintstones," "The Secret Squirrel Show," "Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels," "Mr. T" and "King of the Hill." She played evil witch Hogatha on "The Smurfs" and Morticia on the 1973 animated version of "The Addams Family." Though her live-action roles were few, she did guest-star on episodes of "I Love Lucy" and "The Lucy Show," as well as "The Andy Griffith Show" and a handful of others.

Waldo's long and successful voice career made her a popular star among fans of animation, and she frequently appeared at Comic-Con International. In a 2011 interview with Comic Mix, she confessed that she loved the attention lavished on her by fans: "It's thrilling to me. I get so much fan mail. I get boxes of mail, and I'm feeling really bad since I don't always answer them promptly. I get fan mail from Europe, and people send me such wonderful things like Belgian chocolates."

Waldo was preceded in death by her husband, playwright and lyricist Robert Lee, to whom she was married from 1948 until his death in 1994. She is survived by her children, Lucy and Jonathan.
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