Like Mel Blanc before him, Rich Little has been called the Man of a Thousand Voices. And although the comic impressionist was born in Canada, he largely made a name for himself imitating the voices of presidents of the United States, from John F. Kennedy onward.
Little began his career in nightclubs and on the radio, but it wasn’t until 1964 that he broke out, after Mel Torme booked him to do his impressions on “The Judy Garland Show” on CBS. A variety of appearances followed on shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Dean Martin Show,” “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” and “The Julie Andrews Show.” Later, he would appear on and guest host “The Tonight Show,” as well as being featured on the game show “The Hollywood Squares” and having his own short-lived TV program.
Little’s presidential impressions gained him access to White House functions such as performing at dinners and at Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. And his ability to mimic celebrities garnered him work portraying Johnny Carson in the HBO movie “The Late Shift” and even filling in on projects for the voices of David Niven, Stacey Keach and Gene Kelley when the stars themselves were ill.