Michael Winslow: Police Academy Sound Effects Master at the Improv
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The last date listed for Comedian Michael Winslow was Sunday October 16, 2011 / 7:30pm.
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Comic Donnell Rawlings has made dozens of TV appearances, including BET's Comic View, HBO's Def Comedy Jam and Comedy Central's Reality Bites Back, but he may be best known for his work on Chappelle's Show, in which he played such classic characters as Ashy Larry and the Jheri-curled hater Beautiful, and served as the third season's co-host. Rawlings, who had a recurring role on HBO's The Wire, can also be seen regularly on E!'s hit show Chelsea Lately and MTV's Hatin', as well as on his own Comedy Central special, From Ashy to Classy. Learn More
Officer Larvelle Jones of the Police Academy movies and master of vocal vision is the only way to describe the live performance of Michael Winslow. From the moment he walks on stage, the audience is mesmerized by Winslow's ability to recreate sounds with his vocal cords: sounds so realistic, the listener can actually visualize the source.
In addition to being a master of sounds, Michael's impressions of notable celebrities such as Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Ronald Reagan and countless others provide for much more than just a comedy show.
Michael Winslow was born September 6, 1958 to Robert and Verdie Winslow on Fairchild Air Force Base. He is the youngest of six brothers. His mom tells stories about when he was young he would imitate the airplane noises, jet engines, basically anything that made a sound he copied with sounds that came out of his mouth. “Growing up in the Air Force Base made it difficult to have friends, so I created imaginary friends, dogs, cats, trucks, anything that would keep me occupied for the moment” says Michael. After graduating high school and a short-lived college career, he had his first professional performance at a club/theater in Boulder, Colorado named Tulagi’s. This was very exciting for him because Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Tommy Bolin and other famous bands had played there.
He opened for a group called Nova, an Italian rock fusion band. He heard through the grapevine that this group were fans of Jimi Hendrix, so Michael decided, "why not portray him?" He had lots of props including his mother’s Afro wig. He was so nervous, but the audience was flabbergasted by his rendition of “Purple Haze” and from that moment, Michael knew his calling: he wanted to be an entertainer.
Michael packed his bags and hitchhiked to Venice Beach where he would be homeless for a short time. He auditioned for The Gong Show hosted by the infamous Chuck Barris and he won a whooping $516.32 which finally got him out of homelessness and allowed him to by a vehicle. That took him to Los Angeles to all the local comedy clubs. At this point in time, Bud Friedman, believed in him and featured in him in the famous Evening at the Improv which we all know now as the Comedy Improv Clubs).
In 1984, he finally got his big chance. Director Hugh Wilson and producer Paul Manslanski came to see Michael perform at the Long Beach Theater were he was opening for Count Basie & his Orchestra. Needless to say, Wilson and Manslanski were blown away! They immediately wrote him into the script of the unforgettable Police Academy I through VII. As soon as the movie came out, it became an instant success, and so did Michael! His celebrity status was in place.
He went on to play a part in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs. This film helped in furthering his spotlight as a unique comedian, a man with a special talent that made families laugh. Michael was also heard, but not seen, when he gave the voice to Stripe, the evil little creature in another hit movie, Gremlins. He also did voice-overs for Disney and Universal Studios in such rides as Back to the Future and Terminator.
Currently you can also hear him in the television hits Robot Chicken and Family Guy. You can't miss him on those great Geico commercials.
Michael, a master of vocal gymnastics, can imitate over 1,000 sound effects using his voice alone. Whether he is recreating the frenzy of Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar, or the roar of a jet plane, his talent is truly remarkable.