Lorenzo Music

The Life and Career of the Man Who Voiced Garfield The Cat
February 04, 2008

Lorenzo Music is one of the greatest voice actors of the twentieth century. Everybody knows him best as the voice of America's favorite cartoon feline Garfield. What was distinctive about his voice was that it had a certain depth and comfort to it, giving audiences and writers a sense of wit, charm, intellect, and creativity. Though Music has long since passed, his TV legacy will continue to thrive for generations to come.
He was born Gerald David Music on May 2, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York, but was raised in Duluth, Minnesota. After attending Central High School, he went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth and became active in the school's Theatre Arts Department. It was also the place where he met fellow drama student Henrietta, who would later become his wife. The two formed a comedy act called Gerald and His Hen, which lasted for 8 successful years. Mr. Music had changed his first name to Lorenzo for spiritual reasons after joining Subud, an international spiritual association of people for all religions, as well as people with no religious affiliation.

In 1962, Lorenzo got his first professional gig in show business, providing various voices to The Jetsons.

Five years later, he switched to writing when he joined the staff of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS. Occasionally, he would sneak onto camera, and play either a banjo or ukulele. In the 70s, he went on to work as a writer for sitcoms such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart Show, and Rhoda.

While working for the show Rhoda, the producers were looking for a voice actor to play the part of Carlton The Doorman. They offered the role to Lorenzo, who had a low and sleepy voice, which would soon become one of the most recognizable voices on television. In 1980, a prime time animated special was created, based off the "heard but never seen" character, called Carlton Your Doorman, which went on to win an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Animated Program".

Lorenzo Music's breakout success came in 1982 when he provided the voice of Garfield the cat in a half-hour long special called Here Comes Garfield. It became such a huge success, winning seven Emmy Awards, that producers had followed up with several more Garfield specials in the 80s, including Garfield On The Town, Garfield In The Rough, Garfield Goes Hollywood, and A Garfield Christmas Special.

In 1988, Music had voiced Garfield again in the animated series Garfield and Friends, which premiered on the CBS Saturday morning cartoon lineup. The series lasted for seven seasons, making it one of the longest running Saturday morning cartoons in the history of television.

During that time, he had also provided the voices of Tummi Gummi in Disney's Gummi Bears, Peter Venkman in The Real Ghost Busters, and Larry The Crash Test Dummy in a series of Public Service Announcements in the 80s about wearing seat belts.

In the 90s, he had lent his voice to several commercials, including one for Florida Grapefruit Juice, which also features a then-unknown cartoon character, with whom audiences would soon recognize as Doug Funnie. By the middle of the decade, Lorenzo Music had retired from cartoon voice over acting.

On August 4, 2001, Lorenzo Music had died from complications related to lung and bone cancer. He is survived by his wife Henrietta; daughters Roz and Leilani; and sons Fernando and Sam. Since his passing, veteren voice actor Frank Welker has provided the voice of Garfield in recent productions. Actor Bill Murray had voiced Garfield in both Garfield: The Movie and Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties.

RIP 1937-2001
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