From the faithful and striking Alex Toth design to the commanding voice of actress Shannon Farnon, the Hannah-Barbera Wonder Woman was and remains to be one of the most beloved versions of William Moulton Marston's creation to date. (I'm still looking for a decently priced Wonder Woman/Cheetah Super Friends action figure 2-pack on EBay!) And pushing for a Super Friends revival! Animated, comic book, digital-first, whatever! Just give me my Wonder Twins!
Continuing the 75th celebration of Wonder Woman, here at Wonder Woman Wednesday, we have a special treat as voice actress and first voice of Hannah-Barbara's Wonder Woman, Shannon Farnon, has agreed to talk with us about her career and voicing Wonder Woman.
Michael Fitzgerald Troy, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor: Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview. I understand in November you'll be celebrating your 75th Anniversary alongside Wonder Woman. How did you become involved in show business?
Shannon Farnon: Well, I came at show business naturally. My entire family is in the entertainment business. My father [Brian Farnon] was one of those rare people who was never without a job as a full orchestra leader and arranger. [He’s] 97 years old and just retired from Harrah’s Club in Lake Tahoe. My mother [Rita Oehmen] was an actress in the late 1930s for a couple of years, and she was also a signing comedian. She and her brother [Eddy] had a vaudeville act when they were very young. Both of my sisters were in the business. One [Charmian Carr] was in a film that turned out to be quite a classic, The Sound of Music -- she played Liesl. She left the business and spent her life as a successful decorator. She died in September. And my little sister, Darleen Carr, now retired, was also a successful actress.
So, I was a natural. In high school, I started doing the theater arts class, and I just knew that’s what I wanted to do from then on. I went to Valley College in the San Fernando Valley and started working on commercial spots [a few years later.] I was a very big fish in a little pond there. Enjoyed it. Loved it. I always loved it. I have always made the statement, “If we got a dollar and a quarter an hour for our work, we who love it still would do it.”
MFT: Did you have a knowledge or interest in Wonder Woman before becoming the first actress to voice her in a Hannah-Barbera cartoon?
SF:I grew up when comic books were what children read, and paper dolls brought out our creativity. Remember, I’m old enough to have not had television until I was ten or eleven. I forget the exact age.
MFT: How was it that you came to voice the character?
SF: I did an on-camera commercial for Flintstone vitamins with Wally Burr, a director in town, and he liked my work. It just so happens that he was asked to direct [the recording of] this new, up-and-coming idea at Hanna-Barbera called Super Friends. I don’t know why -- I was playing a mother in a vitamin commercial (laughter) -- but he thought of me and asked, “Would you be interested in auditioning for this show?” At the audition, [Wally Burr and I] played with ideas in the studio, and I said, “What do we do with her?” And he said, “Well, how do you see her?” I replied, “Well, she’s an Amazon. She’s a super-human.” And he said, “All right, so take off your shirtwaist dress, put your boots on, and let me hear that.” And that’s how we started.
MFT: Any interesting moments or stories that come along with being the voice of Wonder Woman?
SF: I had this fabulous opportunity to let loose with accents and ages and skills and animals. I always loved doing more. It was just a wonderful training ground.
And working with such talented people was a joy. You know, we had new people coming in all the time on the show. We worked in a very large studio. And often there were more people in front of microphones than there were anywhere else in the room. It was all so enjoyable. I have certain memories of the show, where I would be doing a guest part as well as Wonder Woman, like a French scientist or someone who was really different. I couldn’t possibly tell you an episode name…
MFT: What do you make of all the fanfare surrounding Wonder Woman's 75th Anniversary?
SF: The fanfare so far has been minimal. When it was Superman or Batman being celebrated, the comic conventions went all out for them. WW has had nothing in comparison. The DC honorary title is the only thing so far – and the US postage stamps. My recent appearance at the LA Comic Con found myself and another WW voice performance with our booths in a far corner, away from the action, flanking the entrance to the restrooms. And Susan Eisenberg, who voiced her in the Justice League for 3 years, had to set up a panel to feature WW. It was the best part of the day.
MFT: Did you think this role would stay with you for the rest of your career?
SF: I never had a clue that this role would be a major part of my life. At the time, it was a job I did for 10 years at Hanna-Barbera – and never knew from year to year if we would be called back for more. I am proud to have created her voice and be a representative for women who stand for peace and love and justice – using force only as a last resort. The world needs more feminine leadership.
MFT: Do you have a website where fans can learn more about you and your work?
SF: I had a website for years but removed it and now use my Shannon Farnon Facebook page in much the same way. Fans can always just google my name and be taken to many links.
Special thanks to Shanon Farnon for this interview. She truly deserves a spot in Wonder Woman history!
See you next week for WWW and be sure to check out "I Am Wonder Fan" on Facebook.