The Man Behind The Noot Noot: Remembering The Voice Of Pingu
No matter what language you speak there’s a universal understanding of “noot noot.”
The voice of Pingu, whose “noot noot” soundtracked many of our childhoods, passed away last week.
Carlo Bonomi is the voice actor behind not only Pingu, but all of the characters in the show like Pingu’s sister Pinga, Robbie the Seal and Pingu’s parents.
Carlo Bonomi used to perform Pingu without a script and created a whole language of Penguinse. He’d record the voices in the studio along with a foley artist to bring the show to life.
His voice also became a fixture in his home city of Florence because he recorded the broadcast announcements that’d play over Florence’s Central Station.
The voices we hear in cartoons, in ads or even train announcements on the way home become a sonic tapestry woven into our memories and shared histories. However we don’t often get to know the people behind the voices, which is remarkable given the impact they can have on us as we grow up and hear these voices each day. Voices that belong to people like Carlo Bonomi and Taylor Owynns.
You might not know the name Taylor Owynns, but you’ve most certainly heard her voice. More than a million Australians listen out for Taylor Owynns’ voice, often a few times a day over the speakers at local train stations across New South Wales and Victoria.
For over two decades we’ve heard her voice at Sydney’s Central station, letting us know we’ve arrived at Newcastle to Nowra and even Flinders St Station. Her voice takes us to work and brings us home on a night out, it’s as much a fixture of our cities as the buildings and the parks.
Voices can have the power to take us back to a special place in time or even bring us out of a coma, which happened to Mel Blanc, whose voice you’d definitely recognise as he voiced around 400 of the Looney Tunes characters.
If you’re a fan of Tweety Bird, Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig then you’re a fan of Mel Blanc. He’s referred to as “the man of a thousand voices” and he very much lived up to this title. He’d do anything to perfect his voices, and even travelled from the US to Tasmina in the early 1950s to perfect his voice for Taz the Tasmanian Devil and he got it pretty spot on.
Doctors were mesmerised by all the voices Mel Blanc could do that they wanted to take a closer look. They popped a camera down Mel’s throat to see how his vocal folds worked when he did his Looney Tunes voices which is both spectacular and freaky viewing.
When Mel was in a car accident he slipped into a coma for over 2 weeks. He was unresponsive until his doctor decided to ask, ”Porky Pig can you hear me?” Playing in the background to this question was Bugs Bunny on the hospital TV and all of a sudden Mel Blanc woke up from the coma and replied “I can hear you” in his Bugs Bunny voice.
Mel Blanc passed away in the late 1980s but in many ways his personality lives on through his characters.
Voices have the power to bind us despite our location, age or background and even now in the wake of Carlo Bonomi’s death Pingu’s “noot noot” will live on forever.