Who is the voice of the Operator?
November 15, 2008 3:20 AM   Subscribe

Who recorded the canonical telephone operator messages? She was responsible for classic hits like, "We're sorry, your call did not go through," and "If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again."

I vaguely remember seeing her as a guest on a late night talk show when I was a kid. Letterman is most likely, but maybe even Johnny Carson? I'd love to find video of it.
posted by miffed to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Jane Barbe
posted by Houstonian at 4:47 AM on November 15, 2008

Also Pat Fleet
posted by Houstonian at 4:51 AM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

You might get a bit of nerd overload from it, but you can hear all kinds of operators (recordings and not) on the "Group Bell" Phone Trips page. Lots of Jane Barbe, as well as several other recording voices and message styles used by the Bell System and the independents throughout the years. If I remember correctly, Evan Doorbell calls Jane Barbe in one of the files to discuss some other lady making recordings on newer Audichron equipment. I don't remember which file that's in but if I find it, I'll mefimail you. If you do decide to listen to some of these, I'd recommend skipping the realaudio files and going directly to the mp3s on their FTP download site.

Some of the files focus more on operator recordings than others, but the "Sounds of the Long Distance Network" series might be a good place to start (LDp00HQ.zip and up).
posted by Juffo-Wup at 8:46 AM on November 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

This allows me to get something off my chest. I absolutely despise that "If you want to make a call - " message, following that horrible shrieking sound. I'm on the phone and I am dialing numbers. Goddamn right I want to make a call. What the hell else would I be trying to do?

That is all. I feel much better now.
posted by megatherium at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2008

Response by poster: Amazing, thanks! That Phone Trips page is awesome.
posted by miffed at 12:06 PM on November 15, 2008

What the hell else would I be trying to do?

You might have accidentally replaced the phone on its base incorrectly, causing the line to inadvertently stay open. Nobody can reach you until you put the receiver back on the hook... thus the incredibly annoying noise emitted through the handset--this makes locating the offending phone much easier.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:00 PM on November 15, 2008

Joan Kenley is a voice of voicemail, and is the voice of the operator in the Simpsons episode King Size Homer who says "The fingers you have used to dial, are too fat."
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:08 PM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

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