Hisbits: The Voice Of Otis

imageHe was Goofy, Owl, and Otis. Hal Smith’s career was about playing characters people loved. Most didn’t know Andy and Barney’s lovable still finder, was also Disney’s favorite dog. From Mayberry to villains of Scooby Doo, he lent his voice to countless classics.

The Petosky, Michigan native was born in 1916. He spent his formative years in Massena, New York. After High School, he married Louisa in 1936. They would remain married for fifty one years, until her death.

From around the time of his marriage, he was a Disc Jockey until 1943. Then, Hal joined the United States Special Services. It was a theatrical unit, entertaining the troops, during World War II.

Once the war was over, it was time to travel to Hollywood. Parts in multiple TV shows from Dennis the Menace to Red Skelton began his career. Between 1960 to 1968, he was Otis Campbell. The kindly town drunk, according to Don Knotts, didn’t drink in real life.

A decade prior, he began his other legacy, one that would entertain generations, voice work for animation. When the first man to play Goofy, Pinto Colvig died, Hal took his place. His other Disney roles included Owl on Winnie The Pooh, and Flintheard Glumgold on Ducktales.

Hal worked for Hanna Barbera on such shows as Quick Draw McGraw, and Huckleberry Hound. From 1960 to 1961, he filled in as Elmer Fudd, when the original actor passed away. More than once, he gave his voice to Winnie The Pooh himself. It is rumored that a character Hal played on Space Angel, Taurus, inspired Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek’s Mr. Scott.

Hal’s role as Goliath, in Davey And Goliath, spanned 1959 to 1975. His later animated roles were equestrian, playing Phillipe the horse in Beauty and the Beast, and Jafar’s stallion in Aladdin. Radio listeners knew him as Mr Whittaker on Focus On The Family’s Adventures In Odyssey.

In 1986, along with Andy and the rest, they filmed Return To Mayberry. Only over time, Otis had changed. He was still lovable, but now he sold ice cream instead of drinking.

The character had his own key to the jail, while the actor had one to our hearts. From a leg of lamb to outsmarting Barney, Mr Campbell could do it all. Apparently so could the voice of Mr Smith. Isn’t it ironic? Otis always wanted Andy to read him a story, while Hal Smith made a life out of telling them.

Leave a Reply