The Day Lorenzo Music Died
Five years ago today, a man named Lorenzo Music died. He was 64 years old. I never met Mr. Music, but six months before his death I wrote him a letter. I’ll get to that in a minute. First, you need to know who this man was.
In the 1970s, Mr. Music was a writer and producer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and The Bob Newhart Show. He wrote the theme song for The Bob Newhart Show, but most people at the time came to know him as the voice of Rhoda’s never-seen doorman Carlton on Rhoda.
In 1982, Lorenzo Music was cast as the voice of Garfield the cat. That’s when I came to know his work. His soothing and mellow voice was just right for that fat cat, which I confess I found funny in 1982.
As I grew up, Mr. Music’s voice seemed to follow me. I was a big fan of the movie Ghostbusters, and watched The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series a few years later. I immediately recognized Mr. Music’s voice as Peter Venkman, the character played by Bill Murray in the movie. When Mr. Music was replaced by Dave Coulier (of “Full House” fame) in later seasons, the character just wasn’t the same. Dave Coulier was a poor replacement for Lorenzo Music. Many people also recognized his voice on the Gummi Bears cartoon, where he played Tummi Gummi. By then I was already a fan of his, but I admit I couldn’t stand this show.
As the years passed, I kept hearing Lorenzo Music’s voice. He did several TV commercials, playing one of the Crash Test Dummies for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. He did radio commercials for Pizza Hut and Chick-Fil-A. As I grew out of Saturday Morning Cartoons, his voice followed me through high school and college, at the most unexpected times. Hanging out with friends, listening to the radio, I’d randomly hear Lorenzo Music during commercial breaks. His voice was so soothing and familiar. He was one ever-present constant in the background of a life full of so many variables.
Early in 2001, I realized that I hadn’t been hearing his voice as much. Was he still working? I looked him up on-line and found a mailing address through his agent. I decided I would write him a letter. I don’t really write fan mail, but I figured that most voiceover actors probably don’t get that much, and he should know that he still has fans. So I sent him a letter, thanking him for being a talented and soothing voice in so much of my life as I grew up.
I can only assume he received it, as I never heard back. Around six months later, I heard that he died after months of illness. It’s strange being sad for the death of someone I never met; but he was so present in the background of my life until then, and it was sad to know he wouldn’t be there anymore.
In 2004, Garfield was released as a major motion picture. When I first heard about it, I thought, “How could they do a Garfield movie without Lorenzo Music to lend his voice?” I was afraid they would cast Dave Coulier, which would be an ultimate insult. Instead, I was pleased to see that Bill Murray, whose Ghostbusters character was later voiced by Lorenzo Music in the animated Ghostbusters series, was cast as the voice of Garfield. Whether or not the producers intended it as such, I found that to be a fitting tribute.
Previously: The Google Maps Guide to Ghostbusters
Even more previously: I hid a little tribute to Lorenzo Music in my 2002 website about the best saturday morning cartoon series that never was, The Adventures of Li’l Bill & Hill.
And a question: In 1980, one episode of a proposed animated series Carlton Your Doorman was produced, based on Lorenzo Music’s character from Rhoda. While it didn’t get picked up as a series, it did air as a special on CBS and earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. Does anybody have a copy or know where I can get one? I’d love to see it. Please e-mail me if you know how I can get it. Thanks.
Don’t quote me on this as absolute truth, but I had heard the reason that they got Murray to do Garfield in the movie is because originally they’d tried for Murray before Music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Music fan myself — I think Murray probably did the voice because of the connection, if the initial bit of this rambling is even true.
Posted by: Arisa | August 4, 2006 4:15 AM
mr. music used to drive around manhattan in a cool limo with the license plate “mr.music”..
Posted by: rob | August 30, 2006 5:45 PM
As I sit here, tears streaming down my face in morning the passing of a man I never knew, who’s name until now I had never heard, and who’s many accomplishments beyond being that special voice coming over Rhoda’s intercom, and of course the voice of my favorite feline - Garfield, I was completely unaware of.
I want to thank the originator of this article, as it more than answers my question of why Bill Murray played Garfield in the movies, other than his talent for doing so, lol. I would also like to thank him for the The Adventures of Li’l Bill & Hill, though I haven’t had time to look at it entirely, I know I’m going to enjoy every moment. I can only assume that the flying cat with glasses is the tribute to Mr. Music.
Dave Coulier is fine on “Full House”, but I can’t imagine him filling the boots so to speak of Mr. Music, he should stick to Bullwinkle & Popeye!
When I originally heard Bill Murray had been cast for the part of Garfield’s voice in the movie, I was hesitant. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bill Murray, it’s just that Mr. Music’s voice WAS (and I guess always will be) Garfield’s voice to my ears, heart & mind. But I do agree, that Mr. Murray did a great job of the part, I commend him, and am in hopes he does more.
Though I don’t have the answer to the question about the Carlton Your Doorman question, I too would love to see that episode as well! So, if anybody finds a place to either view it or buy it, please advise me as well.
Sorry that I don’t have anything more to contribute, other than a great respect for the work Mr. Music did, and to lament the fact we didn’t have more time to enjoy his many talents.
Posted by: Joél | April 12, 2007 4:42 PM
Thank you for a most wonderful tribute to the greatest voice-over talent to ever have been heard. I will forever associate the voice of Carlton the Doorman and Garfield with the sweetest and most soothing sounds to have ever been able to hear in this lifetime. Lorenzo was a talent that no one will ever compare to and I only wish that I had been able to find an address to have been able to personally write him and tell him so. He had many more fans (unknown) than most of the “elite” in Hollywood could ever count. Had he been public, it would have been overwhelming! May he now be happier and enjoying himself on The Other Side, because here there is a major void in not being able to listen to the soothing tones of his voice any longer. I will forever love him and miss him, even tho we never knew each other…his voice captured me the moment I heard him reply “This is Carlton your Doorman”…
Posted by: Deby Zimmerman | November 2, 2007 2:23 PM
Although it’s a fitting tribute with the Peter Venkman connection, and with Bill Murray being a good comedy actor, I always thought that the actor Judge Reinhold’s voice sounded similar to that of Garfield’s. What do you think?
Posted by: Steve | December 26, 2007 1:07 PM
And Judge Reinhold at one point looked like Jon Arbuckle too =D
Kudos to Lorenzo Music, for making Garfield’s voice unforgettable. And Jim Davis for hiring him!
Posted by: pen | April 13, 2008 12:04 AM
I like reading this on garfield commericals I miss those commerical.use to be one use cat playing piano like friskie commerical something like that.
Posted by: sue | November 3, 2009 11:45 PM
I enjoyed yoru article. do you have links or reels to his voice. any info
you could send would be a help.
Be well and happy,
Posted by: joe maria | March 9, 2010 7:38 PM
i was wondering if lorenzo did any paintings…i ran across a painting signed by lorenzo music from 1960….wish i could find out how much it might be worth
Posted by: tom foerster | March 20, 2010 6:17 PM
Dave Coulier is a phenomenal Voice Actor I dont know why you have such bad things to say about him.
Posted by: OptimusSolo | September 2, 2010 10:58 PM
I know this is somewhat redundant by now but thanks to google i’ve come to learn that Bill Murray was the asshole that requested Mr.Music bumped from the real Ghostbusters cartoon cause he said it sounded to much like Garfield and Murray didn’t want his character sounding like a Saturday morning cartoon cat that was fat and ate lasagna. Which sounds very petty to me consider the reason Lorenzo was picked in the first place by producers is because they thought he sounded like Murray to begin with !
To me for Murray to voice Garfield in the movie so many yrs later and after Musics death is a slap in the face to Music legacy of voice work!!
Oh and BTW when i was a kid and I bought all the Garfield books btw - my first Garfield show i seen ( well before the Saturday morning cartoon show !) was Garfield Halloween in 1985
and being Canadian and sheltered lol i argued all the time that it the Garfield was voiced by Tommy Chong lol
so go figure :) - but i did by listening that the same voice was Peter Venkmen and Gummi Bears - I loved both these shows as well :)
Posted by: Drew Brown | November 1, 2010 11:58 PM
This isn’t the video of the Carlton Your Doorman animation, but it’s the music from it:
I was listening to this one day when it suddenly occurred to me: THIS IS GARFIELD! A quick google later, I found out about the Murray/Music connection. I didn’t know about all the other stuff until I read your blog post from 5 years ago. :)
Posted by: TmsT | June 16, 2011 3:06 PM
I’ll always remember him for his radio commercials. He did a few for Rax Roast Beef restaurants, among others. Hearing him do the commercials is what made them memorable. I loved hearing his voice. Thanks for the tribute page to Mr. Music!
Posted by: DJ Holmes | March 17, 2012 1:55 AM
The 3D animated series that plays on Boomerang , the voice of Garfeald is a copy of music’s , but he’s voiced by the guy who done Ray in the real ghostbusters , have a listen you can tell straight away.
Posted by: Daveyshambles | May 19, 2012 7:43 PM