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Tom Kenny

For other people named Tom Kenny, see Tom Kenny (disambiguation).

Tom Kenny
File:Tom Kenny in 2014 at New York Comic Con - Photo by Peter Dzubay.jpg
Kenny in 2014
Born Thomas James Kenny
(1962-07-13) July 13, 1962 (age 57)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Education Bishop Grimes High School
Occupation Actor, comedian
Years active 1981–present
Spouse(s) Jill Talley (m. 1995)
Children Mack Kenny
Nora Kenny
Parent(s) Paul Austin Kenny
Theresa Bridget Donigan

Thomas James "Tom" Kenny (born July 13, 1962) is an American actor and comedian. He is known for his long-running role as the title role from SpongeBob SquarePants. Kenny has also voiced many other characters including Heffer Wolfe in Rocko's Modern Life, the Ice King in Adventure Time, the Mayor and the Narrator in The Powerpuff Girls, Carl on Johnny Bravo, Dog in CatDog, Eduardo in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh, and Spyro from the Spyro the Dragon franchise.

Early life

Kenny was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, the son of Theresa Bridget (Donigan) and Paul Austin Kenny.[1][2][3] As a young child, he loved drawing and collecting record albums in the late 1960s and 1970s. He went to Bishop Grimes High School, a Catholic high school,[4] which is also located in Syracuse. He was friends with comedian Bobcat Goldthwait when they were in school after Bobcat got in trouble with one of the teachers in the school, who dragged him into Kenny's class. The two were friends through school and after college and appeared in films that Bobcat directed and starred in such as Shakes the Clown and World's Greatest Dad.

SpongeBob SquarePants

Main article: SpongeBob SquarePants

While working on the animated series Rocko's Modern Life, Kenny met marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg, who was also the creative director in the show's fourth season. Years before the airing of Rocko's Modern Life, Hillenburg wrote a comic book titled The Intertidal Zone in 1989, and a friend of his told him that he should create an animated series based on the comic book. In trying to find a main character of the show, Hillenburg drew a square sponge which he thought was funny and decided that he had found his character. After the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life in 1996, Hillenburg began developing the concept and hired former Rocko crew members. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Kenny, who had previously worked with him on that series. Originally, the character was to be named SpongeBoy, and the series was to be called SpongeBoy Ahoy!, but these were changed due to trademark issues. Hillenburg chose the name SpongeBob and used the name SquarePants as a family name which "had a nice ring to it".

File:Tom Kenny is exuberant.jpg
Kenny speaking at the SpongeBob SquarePants panel at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con

The series premiered on May 1, 1999 on Nickelodeon. In 2000, during its second season, the show became a commercial success. Kenny voices other characters on the show as well: including Gary the Snail, the French narrator (a parody of Jacques Cousteau), SpongeBob's father Harold SquarePants, and his live-action portrayal of Patchy the Pirate (along with Hillenburg, who supplied the voice for the character of Potty the Parrot from 2000 until his departure from the show in 2004). After Hillenburg's resignation, co-executive producer and writer Paul Tibbitt became the voice of Potty. A feature film adaptation of the series, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, premiered on November 14, 2004, and was officially released in theaters on November 19, 2004. In 2010, Kenny was awarded an Annie Award for "Voice Acting in a Television Production" for his role as SpongeBob in SpongeBob's Truth or Square (season 6, episode 23-24). Kenny also voiced SpongeBob in the sequel film that was released on February 6, 2015.

Voice acting

In addition to SpongeBob, Tom Kenny has voiced many characters in over 200 productions. Kenny said that he voices "a lot of sweet yellow characters for some reason."[5] He described his perspective on SpongeBob's voice in an interview: "He's not quite an adult, he's not quite a kid. Think a Stan Laurel, Jerry Lewis kind of child-man. Kind of like a Munchkin but not quite, kind of like a kid, but not in a Charlie Brown child's voice on the TV shows."[6]

He is known to provide the voice of the various meows of Gary the Snail in SpongeBob, but he played his first set of voice actor roles for Rocko's Modern Life, primarily as Heffer Wolfe.[5] Joe Murray auditioned Kenny for voice acting roles for the series in a casting call in Los Angeles, California.[7] On one occasion, the producers required Kenny to fill the role of Charlie Adler, who was absent. In addition, Kenny had to perform one song and learn how to play another song within ten minutes due to time constraints. He said that this helped him believe that he could stand "toe to toe" with other voice actors. He also voices Cupid for the Nickelodeon show The Fairly OddParents.[8]

Joe Murray chose Kenny for several roles on another one of his projects, Camp Lazlo as Scoutmaster Lumpus and Slinkman, because Murray, after seeing Kenny's previous work for Rocko's Modern Life, felt that Kenny "adds writing to his roles" and "brings so much".[9]

File:Tom Kenny.jpg
Kenny speaking at the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends panel at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con

He voiced Dog in CatDog, as well as the voice of Cliff. He also had a few roles in The Powerpuff Girls. He was the Mayor, the Narrator, Mitch Mitchelson, Snake, and Little Arturo from the Gangrene Gang, Rainbow the Clown, etc. He voiced Eduardo, and various other characters in Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Dr. Two-Brains in the PBS Kids show, WordGirl and the villains Knightbrace, The Common Cold and Mr. Wink in Codename Kids Next Door.

He plays a number of roles in the Transformers Animated TV show. A few of the characters he voices in this series are Starscream and his clones, Isaac Sumdac and Waspinator. Kenny also voiced several characters on the animated show Xiaolin Showdown, as well as the Autobots Skids and Wheelie in the live-action Transformers film series. He has voiced The Penguin on The Batman, as well as Mumbo Jumbo on Teen Titans. On Dilbert, Kenny voiced Ratbert, Asok and other one-time characters. He played Mr. Hal Gibson in the animated kids show Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force GO! He is also Yancy Fry and various minor characters on Futurama.

File:Tom Kenny addressing crowd.jpg
Kenny at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con

In 2009, Kenny became a regular cast voice in the Fox comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up. He voices Muhammad Sabeeh "Happy" Fa-ach Nuabar, the secretive custodian who is plotting a terrorist attack, as well as Happy's interpreter. The series premiered on April 19, 2009. Kenan Thompson, Kristin Chenoweth, Jason Bateman, Nick Kroll, Cheri Oteri, Henry Winkler, Will Arnett, and Will Forte are the other main cast members.[10]

He plays The Ice King and Magic Man on Adventure Time. In 2011, Kenny took over the role of Rabbit from Ken Sansom in Winnie the Pooh.

From 2012-2014, Kenny voiced Woody Johnson on Comedy Central's Brickleberry.

As 2014, he voices Flain, Seismo, and Teslo in Mixels, Sumo in the Cartoon Network show, Clarence, Daddo in Henry Hugglemonster and Dr. Otto Octavius on The Ultimate Spider-Man.

He has also provided voices in television advertisements for Best Buy (as an elf for a Christmas spot).[11] and Experian (as a talking modem alongside DC Douglas)[12]

Personal life

Kenny first met his wife Jill Talley in 1992 while working on The Edge. The two have since frequently collaborated on SpongeBob among other works. They have two children, Mack (born c. 1997) and Nora (born August 2003).[1][13]

Television and film career

Kenny has acted in many films and TV shows, debuting in How I Got Into College (1989) and later he appeared in films such as Shakes The Clown and Comic Book: The Movie. He appeared in sketch comedies The Edge and Mr. Show. He also appeared in the live-action segments of SpongeBob SquarePants as Patchy the Pirate, and appeared on R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour on the season four episode, "Uncle Howee" as Uncle Howee, a high-energy kids' show host with strange powers.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film/TV Show Result
2001 Annie Award Best Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants Nominated
2008 Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production Nominated
2010 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Couple (shared with Shia LaBeouf and either Megan Fox or any "Transformer") Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Nominated
Annie Award Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants Won
2011 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Screen Ensemble (shared with the entire cast) Transformers: Dark of the Moon Nominated
2014 Annie Award Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Adventure Time Won


Main article: Tom Kenny filmography


External links

Preceded by
Carlos Alazraqui
Voice of Spyro the Dragon
Succeeded by
Jess Harnell
Preceded by
Charlie Adler
Voice of Starscream
Succeeded by
Sam Riegel
Preceded by
Frank Welker
Voice of Wheelie
Succeeded by

Template:The Powerpuff Girls

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