Funeral services were pending Thursday for veteran voice actor John Winfield Stephenson, who lent his voice to dozens of animated characters in a 60-year career, but is best known as Fred Flintstone’s boss, Mr. Slate, on “The Flintstones.”
Stephenson died Friday at an assisted-living facility in Woodland Hills following a three-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his son Roger told City News Service. He was 91.
Roger Stephenson said his father was the last surviving original cast member of “The Flintstones,” which ran from 1960-66.
A Wisconsin native, Stephenson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1943 and flew more than 400 combat hours. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, Air Medal and other honors before he was discharged in 1946.
He earned a theater degree at Northwestern University before moving to Hollywood. He made guest appearances on a series of shows in the 1950s and 1960s, including “The Lone Ranger,” “Public Defender” and “Dragnet.” He made repeated appearances on “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” and was a cast member of “The People’s Choice.”
He continued to appear on camera in shows including “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Get Smart” and “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but found his true calling with his vocal talent. He was the voice of Fancy-Fancy on the animated series “Top Cat,” Colonel Fusby on “The Peter Potamus Show” and Dr. Benton C. Quest, the father of “Jonny Quest.”
On “The Flintstones,” he provided vocals for not only Mr. Slate — Fred’s boss at the rock quarry — but countless other characters, including Fred’s sometime-nemesis Joe Rockhead.
He became a regular on multiple cartoons, including “Wacky Races,” “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?,” “Superfriends,” “The New Tom & Jerry Show,” “Yogi’s Space Race,” “The Fantastic Four” and “Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.”
Stephenson also provided the voiceover at the end of “Dragnet,” informing viewers that a trial was held in the case featured in the episode, and “in a moment, the results of that trial.”
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jean; son Roger; daughter Katie and grandaughter Samantha.
— City News Service
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