For once, we know a bit about today’s honoree’s radio career. She actually appeared on two of my personal favourite shows, both Lux Radio Theatre and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. (Or as I persist in pronouncing it, “Johnny Dollah!”) She also did a lot of others, and the list we have is almost certainly incomplete. But both of those are such entertaining shows with no lasting footprint in modern culture that I almost certainly put her on the schedule as much to talk about them as anything else.
Still, there’s more to Jane Webb than an excuse to say “Johnny Dollah!” a lot. For one, there’s her television voicework. Delightfully, she was credited as “Jane Webb” when voicing Ginger and “Jane Edwards” when voicing Mary Ann in the animated Gilligan’s Island. You know, to persuade people she was two different actresses. Filmation was less concerned when it came to Batgirl and Catwoman. (It’s possible she was added to the list in my “cover as many Catwomen as possible” goal.) Ditto Betty and Veronica. There are lots of shows where she was multiple characters.
She is, in short, the kind of person who makes me really frustrated when celebrities claim that voice acting is easy. Sure it is, if you’re only voicing one character who is basically your own voice doing your own schtick. Since Webb was a literal child, she was performing multiple characters, often important ones. On Archie’s Bang-Shang Lalapalooza Show (an actual show that existed, and let’s all now picture The Archies at Lollapalooza), she was Betty, Veronica, and Miss Grundy, and probably all sorts of other female characters as well.
It’s still frustrating. We can’t even be sure the lists we have of her works are complete. It’s likely they’re not—and even if they are, most of the documentation we have doesn’t say what role she was playing on those radio shows. I always feel as though I’m skipping over large amounts of pop culture history with these columns, simply because the documentation isn’t there. I’ve complained about it before, and I doubtless will again. But what do you do?
Webb did some onscreen performing, but mostly, you heard her voice. You may have heard her as Sabrina on the umpteen TV shows with Sabrina the Teenage Witch on them, or you may have heard her on one of two James Stewart Lux Radio Theatre episodes, either “June Bride” or “You Gotta Stay Happy.” But for a time in Hollywood’s history, you definitely heard her. She may not have had the presence of a June Foray, but she had lasting power, and she was there.