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Tom Kenny
Tom Kenny & Yuri Lowenthal (26231588147) (cropped).jpg
Kenny speaking at the 2018 WonderCon
Thomas James Kenny

(1962-07-13) July 13, 1962 (age 59)
OccupationActor, voice actor, comedian
Years active1981–present
(m. 1995)

Thomas James Kenny (born July 13, 1962) is an American actor and comedian. He is known for voicing the eponymous character in the SpongeBob SquarePants TV series, video games, and films. Kenny has voiced many other characters including Heffer Wolfe in Rocko's Modern Life; the Ice King in Adventure Time; the Narrator and Mayor in The Powerpuff Girls; Carl Chryniszzswics in Johnny Bravo; Dog in CatDog; Hank and Jeremy in Talking Tom and Friends; and Spyro from the Spyro the Dragon video game series. His live-action work includes the comedy variety shows The Edge and Mr. Show. Kenny has won two Daytime Emmy Awards and two Annie Awards for his voice work as SpongeBob SquarePants and the Ice King. He often collaborates with his wife and fellow voice artist Jill Talley, who plays Karen on SpongeBob SquarePants.


Early life and stand-up comedy

Kenny was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, to Theresa Bridget (Donigan) and Paul Austin Kenny.[1][2] As a young child, he loved drawing and collecting record albums in the late 1960s and 1970s. He met Bobcat Goldthwait in first grade and they became lifelong friends.[3] In their mid-teens, they saw an ad for an open-mic night at Skaneateles that featured comedian Barry Crimmins with the moniker "Bear Cat". He and Goldthwait went to the event, and performed under the monikers Tomcat and Bobcat, respectively, as a tribute to Crimmins, after which Goldthwait used Bobcat as his stage name.[4][5][6] Describing Kenny's stand-up routines, Goldthwait said, "Tom would get up there and talk about his therapist and he didn't even have a therapist, he just loved Woody Allen."[7]

Kenny went to Bishop Grimes Junior/Senior High School, a Catholic high school.[8] After college, Kenny performed stand-up comedy around the country for about eight years before he moved on to other venues.[6]

Television and film career

Kenny has acted in many films and TV shows, debuting in How I Got Into College (1989) and later appeared in films such as Shakes the Clown[9] (1991) and Comic Book: The Movie (2004). On television, he would host the "Music News" segments of Friday Night Videos in the early 1990s. He appeared in sketch comedy shows The Edge which aired on Fox from 1992–93, and Mr. Show which aired on HBO from 1995 to 1998, both roles in the show were as a regular cast member. He appears in the live-action segments of SpongeBob SquarePants as Patchy the Pirate, appeared on R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour on the season four episode, "Uncle Howee" as Uncle Howee, a high-energy kids' show host with strange powers.

Voice acting

Kenny at the 2015 Florida SuperCon
Kenny at the 2015 Florida SuperCon

Kenny said that he voices "a lot of sweet yellow characters for some reason."[10] He described SpongeBob's voice as in between that of a child and an adult, stating "Think a Stan Laurel, Jerry Lewis kind of child-man. Kind of like a Munchkin but not quite, kind of like a kid, but not in a Charlie Brown child's voice on the TV shows."[11]

Joe Murray auditioned Kenny for voice acting roles for Rocko's Modern Life in a casting call in Los Angeles, California.[12] On one occasion, the producers required Kenny to fill the role of Charlie Adler, who was absent. He voices Cupid for the Nickelodeon show The Fairly OddParents.[13]

Joe Murray chose Kenny for several roles on another one of his projects, Camp Lazlo as Scoutmaster Lumpus and Slinkman, because Murray, after seeing Kenny's previous work for Rocko's Modern Life, felt that Kenny "adds writing to his roles" and "brings so much".[14]

He voiced Dog in CatDog, as well as the voice of Cliff. He voices many characters in The Powerpuff Girls, including the Mayor, the Narrator, Mitch Mitchelson, Snake and Little Arturo from the Gangreen Gang, Rainbow the Clown, etc. He voiced Eduardo and various other characters in Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Dr. Two-Brains in the PBS Kids show, WordGirl, and the villains Knightbrace, the Common Cold and Mr. Wink in Codename Kids Next Door.

Kenny is the Penguin in the 2004 TV series The Batman.

He voiced the character Squanchy on Rick and Morty.[15]

Kenny at New York Comic Con in 2014
Kenny at New York Comic Con in 2014

He plays a number of roles in the Transformers Animated TV show. A few of the characters he voices in this series are Starscream and his clones, Isaac Sumdac and Waspinator. Kenny also voiced several characters on the animated show Xiaolin Showdown, as well as the Autobots Skids and Wheelie in the live-action Transformers film series. On Dilbert, Kenny voiced Ratbert, Asok, Dilbert's shower, and some minor characters. He played Mr. Hal Gibson in the animated kids show Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force GO!.

In 2009, Kenny became a regular cast voice in the Fox comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up. He voices Muhammad Sabeeh "Happy" Fa-ach Nuabar, the secretive custodian who is plotting a terrorist attack, as well as Happy's interpreter. The series premiered on April 19, 2009. Kenan Thompson, Kristin Chenoweth, Jason Bateman, Nick Kroll, Cheri Oteri, Henry Winkler, Will Arnett, and Will Forte are the other main cast members.[16]

He plays the Ice King and Magic Man on Adventure Time. In 2011, Kenny took over the role of Rabbit from Ken Sansom in Winnie the Pooh. From 2012–2014, Kenny voiced Woody Johnson on Comedy Central's Brickleberry. He voices Flain, Seismo, and Teslo in Mixels, Sumo in the Cartoon Network show Clarence, Daddo in Henry Hugglemonster, Dr. Otto Octavius on The Ultimate Spider-Man, and Leo Callisto in Miles from Tomorrowland.

He has also provided voices in television advertisements for Best Buy (as an elf for a Christmas spot),[17] Experian (as a talking modem alongside DC Douglas),[18] and Talking Hank in the YouTube web series Talking Tom and Friends.[19]

In video games, Kenny is best known as the voice of Spyro the Dragon, having replaced previous voice actor Carlos Alazraqui. He first voiced Spyro in Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, and continued to voice the character up until Spyro: A Hero's Tail, where he was replaced by Jess Harnell. He also voiced another character in the series, Sgt. James Byrd, in Spyro: Year of the Dragon.[20] He reprised both roles in Spyro Reignited Trilogy, a collection of modern remakes of the original Spyro trilogy.[21]

Kenny was a guest star on HarmonQuest as both himself and his "in-game character" Legnahcra the maître d' of Virtuous Harmony.[22]

He also voiced Fethry Duck in the 2017 version of DuckTales.

SpongeBob SquarePants

Kenny in 2010 at San Diego Comic Con
Kenny in 2010 at San Diego Comic Con

While working on the animated series Rocko's Modern Life, Kenny met marine biologist and animator Stephen Hillenburg. After the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life in 1996, Hillenburg began developing his own concept for an ocean-themed series, building off of his background in marine science. Hillenburg said that he wanted to base the show on his favorite animal, the sea sponge, "because it's a funny animal, a strange one."[23] To voice this character, Hillenburg approached Kenny in 1997.

The series, titled SpongeBob SquarePants, premiered on Nickelodeon on May 1, 1999. It soon became a commercial success. Kenny plays various other characters on the show, including the live-action character Patchy the Pirate and the voices of Gary the Snail, the French Narrator (a parody of Jacques Cousteau), and SpongeBob's father (Harold SquarePants). In 2010, Kenny received the Annie Award for "Voice Acting in a Television Production" for his role as SpongeBob in SpongeBob's Truth or Square (season 6, episode 23-24). He also voiced SpongeBob in the sequel film released on February 6, 2015. In 2018 and 2020, he received the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program.[24]

Personal life

Kenny first met his wife Jill Talley in 1992 while working on The Edge. The two have collaborated on many productions together, including SpongeBob SquarePants (in which Talley voices Karen Plankton).[25] They also both appeared in the music video for "Tonight, Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins. They have two children, Mack (born 1997) and Nora (born 2003).[1][26] The Kennys live in Studio City, California.[27]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Refs
2001 Annie Award Best Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production SpongeBob SquarePants Nominated [28]
2008 Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production Nominated [29]
2010 Won [30]
2014 Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Adventure Time Won [31]
2016 Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water Nominated [32]
2018 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program SpongeBob SquarePants Won [33]
2020 Won [34]
2021 Nominated [35]



  1. ^ a b "Tom Kenny: Biography". T.V Guide. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  2. ^ "Tom Kenny, voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, talks of local ties, life in Bikini Bottom". Times Leader. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  3. ^ "Tom Kenny Finds his Voice as SpongeBob SquarePants". Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  4. ^ "Barry Crimmins's Life-Changing Comedy". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "Louis C.K. directs CNY comedy legend Barry Crimmins' first-ever standup special". Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Wojciechowski, Michele (April 21, 2015). "Voice Artist Tom Kenny on Being SpongeBob SquarePants". Parade. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  7. ^ Nieratko, Chris (September 3, 2015). "Bobcat Goldthwait's Latest Documentary Examines Child Sexual Abuse". Vice. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "Tom Kenny—Sit Down Shut Up, The Batman, SpongeBob SquarePants—02/27/09". Groucho Reviews. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
  9. ^ Metro. "Interview: Tom Kenny talks voicing SpongeBob Squarepants and 'Mr. Show'". Metro US. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  10. ^ Miller, Emily; Macchione, Elizabeth (June 14, 2003). "A discussion with Tom Kenny of 'SpongeBob Squarepants'". St. Augustine Record. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016.
  11. ^ "The Oral History of SpongeBob SquarePants". September 21, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "Lisa (Kiczuk) Trainor interviews Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life", The Rocko's Modern Life FAQ
  13. ^ Lawson, Tim and Alisa Persons. The Magic Behind the Voices: A Who's Who of Cartoon Voice Actors. p.192.
  14. ^ Q & A with Joe Murray Archived January 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine", Cartoon Network Pressroom
  15. ^ "You Won't Believe Who Voices These Rick And Morty Characters | CCUK".
  16. ^ "Sit Down, Shut Up". Fox. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  17. ^ Silver, Stephen. "Best Buy Elf Debuts in Christmas Support Ad". Dealerscope. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  18. ^ Douglas, DC. "Experian (w/ Tom Kenny)". Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  19. ^ Talking Tom and Friends (January 19, 2017), Talking Tom and Friends - Meet the Cast, retrieved July 1, 2018
  20. ^ Spyro: Year of the Dragon Manual (PDF). Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc. October 24, 2000. p. 18. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  21. ^ "Spyro the Dragon is Back in the Spyro Reignited Trilogy!". Activision Blog. Kelly, Kevin. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  22. ^ HarmonQuest.
  23. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (July 29, 2001). "For Young Viewers; For This Scientist, Children Are Like, er, Sponges". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  24. ^ Hipes, Patick (April 27, 2018). "Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards: 'Bold And The Beautiful', 'Sesame Street' Top Winners". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  25. ^ Woulfe, Molly (July 15, 2005). "Jill Talley: She's ready to 'Sponge' off the Cubbies". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Archived from the original on June 26, 2021.
  26. ^ Edwards, Ellen (November 30, 2004). "As the voice of SpongeBob, Tom Kenny knows it's hip to be square". Chicago Tribune.
  27. ^ Herbert, Geoff (January 8, 2015). "Tom Kenny, the voice of 'SpongeBob,' recalls growing up (sort of) in East Syracuse".
  28. ^ "29th Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  29. ^ "37th Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  30. ^ "37th Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  31. ^ "41st Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  32. ^ "46th Annual Annie Awards". Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  33. ^ Daniel Montgomery (May 1, 2018). "Andy Richter reacts to losing Daytime Emmy to Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants): 'WTF, he should have 10 by now'". Gold Derby. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  34. ^ Dino-Ray Ramos (July 26, 2020). "Daytime Emmy Awards Winners List: Amazon, HBO And Netflix Top Children's, Lifestyle, And Animation Honorees; Alan Menken Achieves EGOT Status". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  35. ^ "Nominees announced for the 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards Children's & Animation and Lifestyle categories". NATAS. June 28, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  36. ^ "Screen Junkies - YouTube". Retrieved January 25, 2021.

External links

Preceded by
Carlos Alazraqui
Voice of Spyro the Dragon
1999–2002, 2018-present
Succeeded by
Jess Harnell
Preceded by
Charlie Adler
Voice of Starscream
Succeeded by
Sam Riegel
Preceded by
Frank Welker
Voice of Wheelie
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 22 September 2021, at 15:01
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