The film/TV/theatre world is small. You stay in the business long enough and you become 3 degrees close to everyone else. The voice over community is even smaller. After 20+ years in it, I am astonished by how many people I know who know everyone else.
But I’ve known Jerry Gelb since 1994 or so.
Back then I was looking to broaden my voiceover career and decided to look into doing cartoons. I started taking classes with Louise Chamis. She was a go-getter even at that established stage of her career and recognized I was, too. Knowing I was looking for any VO work, she hooked me up with a fledgling walla group (the voices you hear in the background of tv shows and films, like a hospital or restaurant). It was run by the lovable Adrienne Alexander and the core group became her, myself, Lauri Janover and Jerry Gelb.
Eventually we became The Voicebox (or Walla Round The World, I can’t quite remember). We became the house walla group for Coley Sound in Hollywood and supplied the background voices to many a late night Showtime flick. Occassionally we ended up over at Roger Corman’s studios for a few “Emmanuelle” installments (by far my favorite ADR – lots of heavy breathing).
Jerry was the resident mid-ranged voice, average guys, old men, dialects king and perverted humorist. I did low voiced guys and secretly resented not being cast in the actual films as an actor. Lauri and I had virtual ADR sex together and never felt guilty about it. And all of us did the walla on my first film short, Falling Words.
Jerry was always coming into sessions way more prepared then the rest of us. He was fun, sweet and very caring. Eventually the group disbanded once Coley Sound went under and we all went onward with our career paths. Jerry continued doing voice over, acting on-camera as well as becoming a respected ADR director.
In 2011, I was cast in Transformers: Rescue Bots for The Hub. I was excited to find out that Steve Blum was also in the cast. We had heard of each other for a few years and worked on many of the same games, but never actually met. Then last year I discovered that one of his close friends was Jerry Gelb! My 3 degrees became none. Small world, smaller community.
Last weekend, though, I learned that Jerry has been dealing with some major health issues. Emmy-winning voice over artist, Lex Lang, explains:
As a child he had very rare form of Hodgkins Lymphoma (Thyroid Cancer) at 13 years old. He received radiation treatment (the best there was back then) and the cancer went into remission. However the radiation treatments severely damaged the aortic valve in his heart (which was replaced in 2006) and other problems included a vocal chord polypectomy and the eventual loss of his hair. Now it has been determined that it also caused serious damage to his cervical spine.
As a result of the radiation treatments Jerry now has difficulty holding his head up without assistance, is in risk of paralysis and requires an intensive surgery to add hardware to his vertebrae to stop the process before it becomes life threatening…
Thanks to the Obama Affordable Care Act, Jerry was able to get into the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP). This means the pre-insurance “discounted” unattainable cash price of approximately $70,000 or more for surgery and facilities alone will be primarily handled, but all the deductibles, co-pays, follow-up procedures and several months of no income is out of reach.
So Lex and friends are asking the voice over community and the fans to help. I know you may not know who Jerry is, but you know me so you’re only 2 degrees away!
PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Then post, tweet and blog the link!
People outside the industry tend to think actors and voice over people are rich. Most of us are not. We get paid well when we work, but we usually spend 90 percent of our time looking for our next gig. So when one of us is in need, the rest of us try to step-up. Won’t you join us? Join our voice over community. We don’t bite and can do funny voices to make you laugh.