His face isn't famous but his voice, or rather voices, have earned him awards and accolades in the movie and TV industry. For 30 years he has been the voice of "Goofy" in Disney cartoons and animated features. But here, he is one of Pratt's favorite sons, Bill Farmer.
Farmer was the featured entertainment at the Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Gala Oct. 6. He shared stories from his long and distinguished career as a voice actor in Hollywood plus some videos of his acting characters.
January 2017 makes 30 years he has done the voice of Goofy. Along the way he as mastered more than 100 celebrity voices and dialects. His cartoon voice characters include Sylvester the cat, Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn that he played in the movie "Space Jam" with Michael Jordan.
Besides movies and television, Farmer still loves to entertain with his stand up comedy routine at clubs and corporate events and at actor Fred Willard's sketch-comedy group The MoHo's at Hollywood's Second City Theater.
He has performed thousands of leading and supporting roles in film, television, advertising, consumer products and more. While the bulk of his work is done off camera, he has made appearances in front of the camera including an appearance as a TV journalist in the movie "Robo Cop."
Farmer grew up in Pratt and said he always considered it home. In his youth, he would go the Barron Theater for entertainment and get inspired by the antics of the Three Stooges. Hollywood was the furthest thing from his mind because it was a "million miles away," Farmer said.
But a spark had been lit and he began working on voices. His parents noticed right away that he was, well different from other children. His dad said "there's something wrong with that kid."
He recalled some of the dangerous things he used to do as a child including poking toes in the spokes of a bicycle, smelting lead to make toy solders and other dangerous activities that influenced his life.
But he persisted and soon his friends at Pratt High School were having fun trying to get him to go to a drive-through and order something in one of his voices like John Wayne.
When people would ask him to use one of his voices, he discovered he needed something to say and realized the had to learn how to write comedy. He got a journalism award from the University of Kansas and worked in radio in Oklahoma and Texas before returning to Pratt and working at the radio station where he got a lot of air time.
It became a great training ground for him to develop voices. One of his favorites was radio personality Wolf Man Jack. Farmer didn't understand about voice copyright, he just liked to do the voice on the air.
Farmer was willing to learn about anything to deal with show business. He and some friends talked a friend, John Renner, into letting him put stucco on his face to make a life mask. They soon discovered through Renner's muffled voice, that stucco burns skin. When they tried to remove the stucco, nothing they tried worked. They finally pried mask off but not before burning Renner's skin and pulling out his eyebrows.
In the early 1980s he moved to Dallas, fell in love and married Jennifer in 1984. Farmer said a frequent question he got was if he used any of his voices when he was in a romantic mood. He said he didn't and warned the men in the audience to not do Paul Lynde's voice, it doesn't work.
His father-in-law actually suggested he should get a job picking up trash.
Finally, he decided it was time to take the plunge and head to Hollywood. He quit his job as an electronic technician and headed to California where he did stand-up comedy. Eventually his act caught the eye of stand-up comedian Bill Engvall who told him he had voice talent and should give it a try.
About four months later, his agent asked him if he did any of the Disney character voices. Out of 1,200 people that auditioned, he got the part on Jan. 23, 1987. Since then he has done 3,500 jobs for Disney. He said he was very lucky and it is a lot of fun.
One of his smaller roles was the sound of eggs thrown in the air for "Beauty and the Beast."
One of his favorite projects was the Goofy Movie, a story about the relationship between a father and son. Farmer has a son Austin and the movie was very heartwarming because of his son. Austin is a professional drummer in Hollywood.
Farmer presented several videos including a series of clips with characters he portrayed in animated features, a documentary show called "Behind the Scenes" that showed how voice actors recored their part of an animated movie.
He has been asked if it bothers him that celebrities will sometimes get the plum roles. As long as they do a good job of getting the character, it didn't bother him.
He demonstrated many of his cartoon character voices as well as a string of presidential voices from Lyndon Johnson to Barak Obama. He said politicians were comedy gold. Sometimes people ask him who he votes for and he gives them a working answer.
"I vote for whoever I do the best impersonation of," Farmer said.
One of his hardest voices to do is Johnny Carson even though their voices are similar.
Currently, Farmer is in an improv class with Fred Willard. Farmer had created a comedy routine for his class reunion and Willard read it. Farmer made a video that the showed the audience.
All in all, its been a hell of a ride, he said, but it never would have happened if he hadn't taken the risk and headed to Hollywood.
"Until you jump off the cliff, you can't succeed," Farmer said.
Right now, Farmer is providing the voices for Mickey, Donald and Goofy in a series with Jay Leno. He is working on a project that should be released in the spring of 2017.
Farmer has won several awards during his career behind the mic: Emmy nomination for his work in the animated series "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," Fritz Freleng Lifetime achievement award for excellence in Animation, Disney Legend Award for helping shape the Disney Legacy, 2015 Annie's Award for best acting in a television series.