My useless super-power

Go Out and Write Something Superhero!


There are very few people who know about my useless super-power, but I’m going to reveal it to you, dear readers, right now.

Ever since I can remember, when I hear a commercial on the television with a voice over, or something on the radio, or if I’m in another room (where I can’t see the TV) and I just hear the voices, I can tell who is speaking (and usually I can tell what movie it is too – even if I haven’t seen the film.)

For example, I’m watching TV as I write this and a car commercial just came on. The voiceover was done by the actor who used to play “Burger,” Carrie’s BF on Sex and the City. I don’t even know the guy’s actual name, but I recognize his voice. The commercial is over and I have no idea what brand of car was being advertised.

Bank of America ads? Kiefer Sutherland. (Simply Orange? Keifer’s dad Donald.)

Hyundai? Jeff Bridges.

U.S. Military (or a particular branch, maybe Marines?) Gary Sinise.

Some brand of yogurt I can’t remember? Willem Dafoe.

I can do this all day.

Also, I can catch voices (most likely) even fewer people would know, like Peter Coyote and Keith David, who both do a lot of PBS narration on documentaries, but they also do some commercial television work too. (I love Keith David’s voice, it’s a fantastic baratone.)

So what do I do with this amazingly useless super-power? Not much. Amuse friends who happen to be around when the TV is on, especially when I can pull something unusual out of the hat.

“Oh, remember that guy that played in that movie with Burt Reynolds in the 1970’s? Yeah, that’s him selling that energy drink. Yep, that’s definitely his voice.” Invariably my friend will scrunch up their face and listen, and they’ll be like, “Oh my god! Yeah, you’re right! How’d you do that?”

Well, that’s a national secret. I could tell you, but……

12 Responses

  1. Awesome! Now I know who to call when I recognize someone’s voice, but can’t remember from where!

  2. This will be very useful when Jess and I debate a voice on t.v. Of course, she’s almost always right – but it can’t hurt to call on SuperCarol 🙂

  3. Dear Carol,

    We share the same super power. And do your mean Keith David?

    How about Gene Hackman and Donald Sutherland?



    • Oh gosh, thanks for catching that error Doug. I’ve corrected it in the post – YES, I mean Keith David.

      I wrote Donald Sutherland above, for Simply Orange… I just put it as “Keifer’s Dad Donald”…

      So Gene Hackman is Lowes I think, and Ed Harris does commercials for Home Depot.

      There are too many celebrity commercial voice overs to mention them all…but it makes me wonder maybe my super-power isn’t that super? Maybe everyone else recognizes all these voices too?

      I’ll try to come up with a tougher one to identify…

  4. I do exactly the same thing whenever I see a commercial!

    I do something similar with movies and tv shows: sometimes I’ll be watching an older movie or television series and notice a younger version of a now famous actor and say “hey, that’s so-and-so!” It’s almost like a magic trick at a party.

    If there were ever a league of “Super Heroes with Useless Yet Fun Super Powers,” we’d definitely have to join. 🙂

    • Haha, yes. After I posted this item, I really began to wonder if this “super power” was all that uncommon? Perhaps it’s not, but it’s a fun trick to pony out at parties. 🙂

  5. Tony the Tiger?

    I’m a fan of Old Time Radio, where the voice was everything. Lone Ranger, Sgt Preston (both powerful baritones), The Whistler, …

    And Mat Dillon (William Conrad, who didn’t quite have the look of the invincibly vulnerable marshal, so they found this big tall guy for the TV series).

    Then there were shows like “Fibber McGee & Molly”, which had a cast of about a dozen people – in some cases, one or two people did 2 voices apiece). Probably the most famous for that was “Amos & Andy” where 2 guys did about a dozen voices between them.

    Those were voices almost anyone could recognize.

    Wait for the TV show, “Who’s that Voice?”.

    • Probably one of the best examples of that kind of radio show that’s still on the air is Garrison Keillor’s Prarie Home Companion. They do such a great job on that radio show between Guy Noir, and the old timey adverts, the yuk-yuk jokes and the amazing heartland music. You gotta love it. I know I do.

      Also, if you liked The Lone Ranger, you might enjoy my short story The Return of the Lone Ranger. A link is available on my Published Stories page.


  6. is any reason why there are specific personalities for specific prducts? any thoughts?

    • Well Gary Sinise was in Forest Gump as a military guy and a veteran. It’s possible he was pulled into the Marines commercials after that…but in general the companies most likely profile their customers and try to determine which actors or actresses their customers have an affinity with. For example, Charlize Theron does J’adore perfume. Maybe women that aspire to an upscale look like the one Theron shows in those commercials appeals to the women that buy that perfume.

      There are literally 1000’s of people whose job it is to help make these kinds of suggestions and decisions at ad agencies….

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