Dee Bradley Baker just has one of those voices. I mean, I could hardly blame you if you didn’t know the man’s face, but I can assure you you’ve heard him speak numerous times. How do I know? Because his credits run longer than this article!

But, you know him most from his role as demented fish-person Klaus in American Dad. If you want to learn more about this prolific actor, read on!

Now, there’s plenty about Dee Bradley Baker’s career to learn from. Variety and consistency are the two that most immediately spring to mind; over his decades-spanning stint as a voice actor, he’s played practically every type of role imaginable. If you’re an aspiring voice actor or actress, you’d do well to follow his example. Likewise, if you’re thinking about hiring vocal talent, there are some major quality guidelines that it won’t hurt to shoot for.

Throughout this article, we’ll take a look at:

  • Dee Bradley Baker’s origin
  • His career, and his lessons about consistency
  • Lessons for would-be voice talent.
  • What a career like his can tell you when hiring voice talents.

Ready to get a move on? Let’s take it from the top!

dee bradley baker

Dee Bradley Baker: A Life in Voice Acting

Dee was born on August 31, 1962, in Bloomington, Indiana. He and his family soon left the “scenic gateway to Southern Indiana” for Colorado. By age nine, Dee Bradley Baker had already expressed an interest in the scenic arts, mainly acting. By nine he’d already cut his teeth on operas, musicals, and doing his very own stand-up comedy act.

While he had to sideline his acting profession for “serious” study in his alma mater, Colorado College, he never lost his passion for the performance arts. While he was studying for his philosophy BA, he continued to be involved in local theater productions, for instance. He even studied German for a year at the University of Gottingen, but he never really left the stage during that time, even as he completed his studies. By 1986, he had graduated.

His restless spirit saw him participate in many productions. By the end of his stint in college, Dee had lent his talents to a sketch that ran on local public television, among other things. By 1989, he’d moved to Orlando, Florida, where he attempted to work on an improv sketch comedy show, “The Anacomical Players” at Disney’s Epcot Center.

He continued on with minor roles until he landed his first major hit in 1993. If you’re a child of the 90s, there’s absolutely ZERO chance you missed Legends of the Hidden Temple, I tell you that.

Legends of the Hidden Temple

From 1993 to 1995, Dee Bradley Baker played a role that is embedded in every child’s heart of hearts. He wasn’t just the announcer, but he also voiced the show main’s draw. I can sense the growing realization dawning on you.

Yes, indeed. He played the mystical rock-god Olmec! The Nickelodeon show was a smash worldwide hit. Most likely, anyone over the age of 25-30 can tell you about their fond memories of the show. Even more, so, they’ll talk in hushed, reverential tones about the ominous, authoritative, rather-scary presence of Olmec.

His big, booming voice, was a big draw for audiences. But, even as the show ran for three seasons and 120 episodes, nothing lasts forever. By 1995, Legends of the Hidden temple closed up shop. By then, Kirk Fogg, the show’s host, had moved to LA and encouraged Dee to follow. If there’s one place that’s a haven for people interested in making it in the voice-over world, it’s LA.

Dee Bradley Baker: From Newcomer to Established Actor

Now based in LA, Dee Bradley Baker worked on becoming a well-established voice actor. Ever seen the Cartoon Network hit, Cow & Chicken? That’s another time where you’ve heard Dee’s voice and probably not realized it! His recurring role as the dad saw him receive many accolades and plenty of fan approval. So much so, that his character crossed over into the I Am Weasel show as well.

After, it was on to the big leagues, or rather, the basketball courts! If you thought voicing three characters is hard, try three Warner Brothers legends in the same movie. While that would have been a tall order for a less talented actor, Dee was up to the task. That’s why, in 1996, he voiced Taz, Daffy Duck, and Toro in Looney Tune’s Space Jam movie. Alongside other talented voice actors, he shared billing with none other than the legendary Michael Jordan. That’s a pretty big upswing in just a couple of years if you ask me.

And, of course, he used the momentum to keep going. By the mid-90s, his career had already picked up plenty of speed.

Becoming a Cartoon Mainstay

From the 90s onward, Dee Bradley Baker became one of the guys for varied voice acting. He lent his vocal talents to plenty of episodic shows. This is only a partial list of some of his more popular cartoon work.

  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
  • Johnny Bravo
  • Dexter’s Lab
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • The PowerPuff Girls
  • Mike, Lu, and Og
  • The Fairly OddParents
  • Billy and Mandy

If we were to host a fictional red carpet show with cartoons in attendance, plenty of these guests would be A-listers. As it stands, it’s pretty much a who’s who of critical darlings and cult hits. But, if I were to highlight one cartoon role which landed him the most fame, it would probably be his turn as Klaus in American Dad.

Klaus, the Talking Fish

Now, you’d think that a talking goldfish stuck in a tiny fishbowl would be a pretty one-dimensional character. But Klaus is definitely a standout in American Dad’s cast, owing in no small part to Seth MacFarlane’s penchant for wacky, zany characters that also have a dark, seedy side. In this massively successful sitcom, probably no other character embodies these tropes more than Klaus.

Klaus has a weird, but strangely compelling premise: he’s a 1980s East German Olympic athlete who was kidnapped by the CIA. After, he had his brain exchanged with that of a goldfish so he would have a dismal performance in the Olympics. Of course, they never did him the courtesy of switching his brain back, leading to plenty of hijinks.

Dee Bradley Baker’s performance as Klaus is practically a factory for side-splitting moments. Not only does he have an extremely funny German accent, but he also completely owns the raunchy, morally ambiguous, and occasionally pitch-black moments of humor his character elicits. This has led, over time, to Klaus becoming not only a fan favorite but one of the staples of the show over its 16+ year run.

And, of course, this is just one part of Dee’s talent for animal voices.

Dee Bradley Baker: Animal Voice Expert

Sounds like the title of an Animal Planet show, doesn’t it? But, snide remarks aside, this is really one of Dee Bradley Baker’s strong areas. Of course, I’m not talking about imitating animals, but about giving voices to cute animated critters. Try saying that out loud real quick three times.

Just check out this partial list from his Wiki page!

Starting with gigs on The Wild Thornberrys, he voiced an assortment of animal characters, which would become one of his specialties.[23] He voiced Pig George in the live action animal film My Brother the Pig.[28] Baker has also been involved with television shows for younger children including: Dora the Explorer where he provided animal sounds;[29] Mickey Mouse Clubhouse where he voices Boo Boo Chicken;[30] Curious George where he voices Gnocchi;[31] My Friends Tigger & Pooh where he voices Buster the dog[32] and Jake and the Neverland Pirates (airing on Disney Junior) where he voices Tick-Tock the crocodile

And, trust me, this list goes on forever. Some of the other shows he’s performed animal voices for are:

  • Avatar, The Last Airbender;
  • The Legend of Korra;
  • Ben 10;
  • Phineas and Ferb;
  • Gravity Falls;
  • and even Captain Jack Sparrow’s pet parrot!

dee bradley baker

Other Voice-Over-Related Work

Dee Bradley Baker also has a prolific career as a voice-over actor for video games. He’s had roles in several Halo sequels, Capcom games, Lego Batman, Blizzard franchises, Overwatch, Portal 2, and Heroes of the Storm, and much more.

If there’s one thing that defines his career, it’s hard work, consistency, and variety. His roles in the video game world are no exception.

He’s also participated in several panels at Comic-Con and hosts a website that doubles as a resource for up-and-coming voice pros. Even legends like Steve Blum have given him props regarding the quality of the content he offers for free on his website. I can’t think of a better endorsement than one of the all-time greats!

Where to Find Comparable Talent

Now, there’s no one-size-fits-all “great” voice actor. But, there are plenty of takeaways from studying very successful voice actors like Dee Bradley Baker. If you’re attentive, these could help you build a career for yourself, or also spot outstanding voice actors who may be able to go the extra mile for your projects:

  1. You can’t beat experience. If they’ve been around the block a few times, that indicates that they can handle a variety of projects well. Great reviews and a good acting reel sure don’t hurt. It also shows they’ve been consistent and people-pleasing.
  2. The ability to tackle varied characters. Now, this is not a golden rule. Some actors are one-trick-ponies, and that may be exactly what you need; others still, though, can offer package deals and may help you with more than one part per project. Many of the greats are also vocal chameleons.

Of course, getting these two things alone at fair rates is not exactly easy. But, we’ve done the work so you don’t have to. If you’re interested in hiring world-class voice talent, just head on over to Bunny Studio and submit a project with us. We’ll be happy to give you access to our 100,000-strong roster of talented voice artists and remove any worry, leaving you to enjoy the fruits of a job well done every single time!