Saturday, April 25, 2020

Superfriend to the End

Norman Alden wasn't a household name.  But character actors die too, and sooner or later they end up on this blog.  While his name may not ring a bell, you've surely seen him in films and on TV, or heard his voice in Saturday morning cartoons, most famously as Aquaman on the original Superfriends.  Here's a sample of him in that role.

He was born Norman Adelberg in Fort Worth, Texas on September 13, 1924.  Like many in his generation, he joined the Army after high school and served his country during World War 2.  After the war, he returned to Fort Worth and attended Texas Christian University under the GI Bill of Rights.

Norman's alter ego.
After earning his degree, Alden started receiving bit parts and guest roles on television, on such series as The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Adam-12 and The Andy Griffith Show.  Then in 1973, he was cast as Aquaman during the freshman season of The Superfriends.  Alden would later be replaced in the role by William Callaway.

This wasn't his only venture into Saturday morning television however.  In 1976, he was cast in the live-action Sid and Marty Krofft production Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.  It was a featured series of the hour-long Krofft Super Show, which included other productions, including Wonderbug, Dr. Shrinker and Magic Mongo.  Alden played Frank Heflin, a computer genius and the brains of the outfit, alongside an unknown Deidre Hall in the title role, and a still-unknown Judy Strangis as her female Boy Wonder.

Electra groovy!
Throughout the 70s and into the 80s, Alden continued to make guest appearances on television, on series such as Dallas, Welcome Back, Kotter, and Night Court.  In 1985, he returned to the big screen, in what many consider to be his most famous role, that of Lou in Back to the Future, a 1955 diner owner who has a hard time understanding 1985's Michael J. Fox.  Watch the scene in its entirety here.

Alden's last role of note was in the 1994 film Ed Wood, as Cameraman Bill.

"Tab? I can't give you a Tab unless you order something!"
Norman Alden died of natural causes on July 27, 2012.  He was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Beth Olam Mausoleum (outside wall)
South Wall
Elevation 3
Crypt G-130
Rest with the fishes, Aquaman.

  • Throughout the 1970s, Alden appeared in a series of commercials for AC Delco as Lou the Mechanic.  Watch one such commercial here.

  • While most famous for voicing Aquaman, Alden had previously appeared on the live-action Adam West Batman series as "Henchman #1," in the dual episode "The Joker Trumps an Ace/Batman Sets the Pace."

  • Alden played the title character in the 1965 film Andy, the story of a mentally handicapped man in his middle ages and the elderly parents who still care for him.   You can watch the film in its entirety here.

  • Alden appeared in two episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard playing Sheriff Lacey of neighboring Springville County.

  • In 1986, Alden appeared in an episode of the sit-com Small Wonder, unaware that it had been written by his cousin, Jack Gross.

  • Aquaman wasn't the only cartoon character voiced by Alden.  He was also in the original Transformers series as a robot named Kranix.  Watch him meet his doom in this clip.  Ironically, his character can't swim.

1 comment:

  1. Norman Alden was the voice of Aquaman, not only in the freshman year of the SuperFriends in 1973, he would also reprise the role in 1977 on the All New SuperFriends Hour, the series sophomore year as well. In between those two seasons. He was also in the Evel Knievel inspired animated series, Devlin in 1974. Oddly enough, future fellow SuperFriends costar Michael Bell (who later be the voices of Zan and Gleek) was the voice of the titular character, Ernie Devlin, the main attraction of the traveling circus. Alden was the voice of Hank, the Ringmaster and owner of the circus for whom Ernie, hi mechanic brother Todd (voiced by Monkees alumn Mickey Dolenz) and their kid sister Sandy are employed. Also ironically, Hank's physical appearance would bear a strong resemblance to the late Jim Davis's Jock Ewing on Dallas, who oddly enough, Alden played one of Jock's old friends, Senator Wild Bill Orloff. In 1978, after Alden was replaced by Bill Callaway on the SuperFriends, Alden would voice over a villain in one episode of Jana of the Jungle. And years later in the 1990's, when cartoon Network was still a virtually new network, some of the SuperFriends series finally began airing on that channel. CN animated quite a number of cartoon promos featuring some of the SuperFriends characters. And most notably, Norman Alden and Shannon Farnon, both of whom Hanna Barbera replaced during the show's original Saturday morning run, were hired to reprise the voices of Aquaman and Wonder Woman along with Michael Bell as Zan for the promos. I cover most if not all of this trivia on the late great Norman Alden in my books the Ultimate SuperFriends Companion volumes 1 (the 1970's) and 2 (the 1980's). Both are available on Amazon.