The Comic-Con panels are legendary for their sneak peeks and tidbits of information that is shared exclusively with the attendees. My first Fan Expo panel was not jammed packed with people. Instead it was half full and only had one guy talking, but that one could talk a lot. You might say he has a knack for using his voice.
Bill Farmer, the voice of everyone’s favorite Disney dogs Goofy and Pluto took to the stage, and I quickly realized that even though the room was half full of people, it was packed to the rafters with people who loved Goofy and everything Disney.
Farmer started it off with a quick bio of his life. He grew up in a town in Kansas of just a few thousand people and, from the time he was a kid, he was a movie nut. Watching movies in his local theatre, he learned to do a variety of voices, which he preceded to prove to us with renditions of a multitude of characters including Rocky and Bullwinkle and Kermit the Frog. Since he got so good at voices his friends use to have him do a voice when they would go to the drive thru as a practical joke. He spent a lot of time entertaining his family as a kid. As he got older he bounced around from radio jobs and eventually moved to California. Within a few months, he got a call to audition at Disney. Though he is not considered a Disney employee, he has been the voice of Goofy and Pluto since 1987, doing thousands of jobs for the company.
Anytime you have heard the voice of Goofy from 1987 onward, that has been Bill Farmer. He considers himself a freelance actor, but he loves being Goofy. From Disney Park voice overs to the television show Goof Troop and even narrating a spiel for the Disneyland Monorail, Bill Farmer has been everywhere as the lovable friend of Mickey Mouse. Goof Troop was a fantastic show that I watched religiously. The idea that Goofy had a kid and was trying to make it as a dad seemed impossible but was really funny to watch. Of course whatever happened to Goofy’s wife? Farmer had an answer for that too. He thinks maybe Goofy took her to the mall one day and then forgot about her. Or that his wife was actually Jessica Rabbit because Goofy is goofy and not stupid. This brought a round of laughter and applause from the crowd.
Farmer thought the cast of Goof Troop was a dream to work with. They would usually record the show together and, in most cases, the writers would be writing dialogue all the way up to a few minutes before recording happened.
Our group peppered Farmer with questions about everything from who is Goofy’s wife to what was it like to record dialogue for Kingdom Hearts, and he answered every question fully. Farmer described the joy of singing a duet with Dick Van Dyke for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode “Mickey’s Pirate Adventure.” Van Dyke played Goofy’s grandfather Captain Goof-Beard, while Farmer was playing Pluto and only howled as Van Dyke sang but it was still memorable to him.
One attendee asked if we would ever get a third Goofy movie. Farmer mused that perhaps we could see Max with kids and Goofy as a grandfather. I asked Farmer whether or not he would watch the Wonderful World of Disney as a kid. I had heard countless actors talk about the magic they would see from the Walt Disney television show. The light in his happy face shinned brighter and Farmer told me how he would sit in his Dad’s lap while watching the famed Disney show.
Farmer closed his panel by talking about Goof Troop again and the 20th-anniversary panel held at the last D23 conference. When the convention was announced, the Goof Troop panel was not listed as one of the top ten panels to see, but it was packed on convention day and, at the end of the D23 convention, the Goof Troop panel had a hundred percent satisfaction rating. Not even Star Wars had that according to Farmer.
I left my first panel in a happy mood. My plan was to meet with one celebrity for an autograph and picture, and I knew it had to be Bill Farmer. Just like any other fan convention there were booths you lined up at to meet the celebrities. When I got to Farmer’s it was empty. Had I missed my chance? Nope! After asking an attendant, she told me he would be back in a few minutes and sure enough he was. I got to shake the hand of the man who has entertained me when I was a kid and now my kids as they watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Plus he called my wife and kids and left them a message on our answering machine. An autograph, picture, and message for my kids — not bad for a small fee and worth every penny. Bill Farmer is definitely a must see for any Disney fan at any fan convention.