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Sara Berner

Sara Berner

Sara Berner
Sara Berner Voice Actress

Name

Sara Berner
Lillian Ann Herdan

Sara Berner (January 12, 1912 - December 19, 1969) was a Jewish actress from the United States. Renowned for her proficiency in dialect and personality, she started her career as a vaudeville performer before transitioning into the voice acting industry for radio and animated shorts.

Berner was best known as the speaking voice of Red Hot Riding Hood, African-American boy Little Jasper in the Puppetoons, Jerry Mouse in the Tom and Jerry series and Anchors Aweigh movie, and Andy Panda the baby panda.

Hollywood gossip Erskine Johnson named Berner "The Most Famous Voice in Hollywood" in 1944, eclipsing the legendary Mae Questel and June Foray in that regard.

Berner debuted in the Sniffles cartoons as "Batty" and later replaced Shirley Reid for the last three episodes as Sniffles. She was also the voice of several child incarnations of Little Red Riding Hood. Berner was most notable for her Katharine Hepburn and Mae West imitations which were over-used by Tex Avery in the MGM cartoons.

She was most recognized for her role as Mabel Flapsaddle, the phone operator on The Jack Benny Program, and for hosting her own radio show, Sara's Private Caper, on NBC. When she relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her family, where she worked at a Wanamaker's department store until being let go for imitating a customer.

Starting in 1937, traveled the nation with Bowes' sixteen-person "all-girl unit" of vaudeville acts, playing impersonations of famous people. She came up with the ruse of a fired saleslady impersonating famous people like Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Betty Boop[1] and Mae West.

Berner studied voices and dialects, she picked up accents via mingling with folks who spoke in French, Spanish, Italian, Southern American, and New York English. Later on, she was able to secure employment providing voices for animated cartoons, she later took over for Berneice Hansell and Shirley Reid.

On radio Berner appeared on The Rudy Vallee Show, The Baby Snooks Show, The Jack Benny Program, The Eddie Cantor Pabst Blue Ribbon Show, The Amos 'n' Andy Show, The Jimmy Durante Show, The Red Skelton Program, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Fibber McGee and Molly, Life with Luigi, Lux Radio Theatre, Command Performance and Cavalcade of America.

She worked as a voice actress for MGM, Warner Bros., Walter Lantz Productions and Walt Disney Productions.

During World War II, Berner was a popular performer for US service members, appearing in over 300 shows at Army locations, 84 times at the Hollywood Canteen, and once aboard the Saratoga in 1944.

On August 11, 1951, Berner wed talent agent Milton Rosner, her theatrical agent, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The couple had a daughter named Eugenie, whom they adopted at the age of eight months two years later.

Berner's divorce with her husband Rosner led to him making a false report of "child endangerment" which led to her arrest. She pleaded innocent in court. Despite their 1954 split, Rosner continued to represent Berner, nevertheless, in May 1958, she filed for divorce, citing "extreme" verbal abuse.

She was committed to a hospital when she started to have mental health issues. She abused police officers verbally and that her spouse had attempted to murder her. She was detained twice, demonstrating obvious evidence of mental decline.

Because her family concealed her passing, Berner was forgotten in history and left without any public memorials when she passed away in 1969. In November 1970, her family put up a memorial in the Van Nuys News.

Quotes

  • Sara Berner: "I've been putting words in animals' mouths for eight years." (1944)

Filmography

1938:

  • Daffy Duck in Hollywood (1938)
  • Mother Goose Goes to Hollywood (1938)

1939:

  • Life Begins for Andy Panda as Andy Panda (1939)
  • Dangerous Dan McFoo as Sue (1939)
  • The Autograph Hound (1939)

1940:

  • Confederate Honey as Topsy and Crimson O'Hairoil (1940)
  • The Bear's Tale as Mama Bear and Little Red Riding Hood (1940)
  • Malibu Beach Party as Baby Snooks and Mary Livingstone (1940)
  • Knock Knock (1940)

1941:

  • The Brave Little Bat as Batty (1941)
  • The Trial of Mr. Wolf as Little Red Riding Hood and Grandma (1941)
  • The Henpecked Duck as Mrs. Daffy Duck (1941)
  • We, The Animals - Squeak! as Kansas City Kitty (1941)

1942:

  • Eatin' on the Cuff or The Moth Who Came to Dinner as Bee and Black Widow Spider (1942)
  • Road to Morocco as Mabel the Camel (1942)
  • The Daffy Duckaroo (1942)
  • The Hep Cat (1942)
  • Bugs Bunny Gets the Bold (1942)

1943:

  • Jasper and the Watermelons as Jasper (1943)
  • Jasper and the Choo-Choo as Jasper (1943)
  • Jasper's Music Lesson as Jasper (1943)
  • Jasper Goes Fishing as Jasper (1943)
  • An Itch In Time (1943)

1943:

  • Red Hot Riding Hood as Red Hot Riding Hood - speaking voice only (1943)
  • The Unbearable Bear as Sniffles (1943)

1944:

  • Lost and Foundling as Sniffles (1944)
  • Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks (1944)
  • Plane Daffy as Hatta Mari (1944)
  • The Zoot Cat (1944)
  • Package for Jasper as Jasper (1944)
  • Say Ah, Jasper as Jasper (1944)
  • Jasper Goes Hunting as Jasper (1944)
  • Jasper's Paradise as Jasper (1944)

1945:

  • Swing Shift Cinderella as Red Hot Riding Hood - speaking voice only (1945)
  • Wild and Woolfy as Red Hot Riding Hood - speaking voice only (1945)
  • Anchors Aweigh as Jerry Mouse (1945)
  • The Mouse Comes to Dinner (1945)
  • Jasper's Booby Traps as Jasper (1945)
  • Hotlip Jasper as Jasper (1945)
  • Jasper Tell as Jasper (1945)
  • Jasper's Minstrels as Jasper (1945)
  • Jasper's Close Shave as Jasper (1945)
  • Jasper and the Beanstalk as Jasper (1945)
  • My Man Jasper as Jasper (1945)
  • A Gruesome Twosome (1945)
  • The Bashful Buzzard(1945)

1946:

  • Hush My Mouse as Sniffles (1946)
  • The Hick Chick as Daisy Chicken (1946)
  • Hollywood Daffy as Bette Davis (1946)
  • Jasper's Derby as Jasper (1946)
  • Jasper in a Jam as Jasper (1946)
  • Olio for Jasper as Jasper (1946)
  • Book Revue (1946)
  • Baby Bottleneck (1946)
  • Bacall to Arms (1946)

1947:

  • Uncle Tom's Cabaña as Red Hot Riding Hood - speaking voice only (1947)
  • Shoe Shine Jasper as Jasper (1947)

1948:

  • Hare Splitter as Daisy Lou Bunny (1948)

1952:

  • This Is Your Life as Herself (1952)
  • Carrie as Mrs. Oransky (1952)

1953:

  • Chilly Willy as voice of Chilly Willy - opening sequence only (1953)

1955:

  • The Naked Street as Millie Swadke (1955)

1957:

  • Spring Reunion as Paula Kratz (1957)

1959:

  • Boarder Patrol as Landlady (1959)

1967:

  • CBS Playhouse: The Final War of Olly Winter as Shuffler Woman (1967)

Death

  • On December 19, 1969, at the age of 57, Berner died in obscurity and was buried at Los Angeles' Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery.

Trivia

  • Berner was only the speaking voice of Red Hot Riding Hood, the singing was provided by Connie Russell and Imogene Lynn, and was patterned after MGM's popular Black singer Lena Horne. For Red's speaking voice, Berner used her character impersonations.
  • Her other imitations included Bette Davis, Martha Raye, Joan Crawford and Shirley Temple.
  • She was a Democrat who backed Adlai Stevenson in the 1952 presidential contest and practiced Judaism.
  • Berner replaced Berneice Hansell and Shirley Reid as Warner Bros.' principal female vocalist throughout the majority of the 1940s. Berner was known for being a more dynamic performer and adept impersonator.
  • A majority of her credits were falsely credited to June Foray, though when asked in an interview, Foray did not take credit for Berner's roles.
  • Berner was a known Betty Boop voice-match, and often imitated Boop's voice.

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