Veteran voice actor Bob West explains why everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur touched children’s hearts globally.
Barney is one of children’s television’s iconic and inspirational figures. The lovable purple dinosaur has been entertaining and touching the hearts of many children worldwide for twenty-two years. The heartwarming purple dinosaur first appeared in Barney and The Backyard Gang, running from August 29, 1988, to August 1, 1991. Barney then appeared in the hit children’s series Barney & Friends, running from April 6, 1992, to November 2, 2010. What made Barney special to children was he taught young viewers lessons about good manners, respect for others, civility, sharing, love, self-esteem, cooperation, imagination, and most importantly, friendship.
Veteran voice actor and graphic designer Bob West was the original voice of Barney. West voiced Barney for twelve years, from 1988 till 2000. Additionally, West is known for singing many of the famous music from the Barney shows. One of those includes the iconic I Love You song, Barney, and children’s television staple. His other notable voice work includes characters from Chuck E. Cheese’s animatronic stage show Jasper T. Jowls and Pasqually.
I had the unique opportunity and incredible honor of interviewing the veteran voice actor at Pasadena Comic-Con 2022, located in Pasadena, California. I asked West how he found the voice of Barney, why Barney touched the hearts of children worldwide, and three crucial life lessons that Barney would give.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ORIGINAL VOICE ACTOR OF BARNEY THE DINOSAUR BOB WEST
How did you find your voice for the role of Barney The Dinosaur?
Bob West: Well as with developing any other character voice they come to you. They tell you what they are looking for in terms of the character. They talked about their you know personality, what they look like, and what their goals are that sort of thing. So you just kind of you know they said they wanted him to be happy and upbeat.
Sounds kind of big and the voice that I developed first was very different if you’ve seen Barney and The Backyard Gang stuff. Actually the voice I developed in the auditions was more like PBS but they had me bring it down it down for the The Backyard Gang. Then we brought it up back again realizing that it was more friendly and that sort of thing for the PBS series. So then we went from there.
How do you feel knowing that your voice has touched the hearts of millions across the world?
Bob West: It’s very humbling, it really is. It’s kind of surreal because most of the time, when we were doing the show, we couldn’t go out and really talk to the kids. Didn’t get a real feel for how many children were watching and parents were watching until we started doing personal appearances. We would go to shopping malls, and there would be forty thousand people show up. It was really overwhelming, because we never dreamed it would take off like that. It was really an honor and lots of fun.
Off the top of your head, what top three lessons could we learn from Barney?
Bob West: What three lessons? Let’s see. I think one of the biggest focuses was unconditional love and learning to accept people. To talk to them, to get along with them, to learn about them, and to love them without any restrictions. To forgive, and that sort of thing. I think tolerance and acceptance would be a second thing. Meeting new kinds of people and understanding that everybody’s different, but everybody is special in their own way.
Number three, I think, would be probably imagination. Using your imagination, because it’s so vital. It’s not about playing make believe all the time, it’s about putting together things in your head and building things in head. Then making them happen whether you playing pretend, creating something, finding a solution to some problem. Imagination is absolutely vital for kids and for adults.
Barney will always be an inspirational figure in Children’s television and pop culture. The heartwarming purple dinosaur has touched children’s hearts for many years, and his messages resonate today. Millions of fans will forever remember Bob West’s original voice of Barney and the incredible memories they had when he voiced him and can hopefully transfer Barney’s important and loving messages to the next generation.
Did you watch Bob West as Barney growing up? If you did what favorite memory did you have of the iconic purple dinosaur? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.