As far as guest appearances on "Johnny Bravo" go, Donny Osmond has made the most, clocking in at five (six, if you want to count the JB video game). Interestingly enough, coming in at a close second, is the incomparable, Don Knotts! (Change voice to the Count from Sesame Street.) With three! Three guest spots! Ah ah ah!
Don Knotts' first guest spot came at the climax of our Scooby Doo crossover. We did a play on the traditional unmasking of the ghost, having the Scooby gang rip off mask after mask from the head of the culprit, only to reveal another villain from a past episode. We used the old Alex Toth and Iwao Takamoto models of Professor Hyde White (the very first Scooby villain), Harry The Hypnotist, Bigfoot, Joe Barbera (to which Johnny Bravo asked, "Who's that?"), and the one and only Don Knotts!
FUN FACT: We also tried to use Phyllis Diller, but we ran into a problem getting the use of her likeness.
Don Knotts' people? They loved the idea. Unfortunately, we didn't get to work with him, but it wasn't the last he heard from us!
Fast forward five years.
It wasn't until the 5th season rolled around that we revisited the idea of actually bringing Don Knotts into the studio to voice himself. Actually, the idea came about when we tried to get Jon Bon Jovi in the studio and his people passed on the offer. Lucky for us, we were able to rewrite the role for Don Knotts (because why not, right?). Below are some rough design ideas by the talented Dan Haskett...
The episode was our fifth season opener, "Johnny Bravo Goes To Hollywood!" Don Knotts played himself as part of the official "Hollywood Welcome Wagon" (which included Alec Baldwin, Jessica Biel, a hobbit, and a dinosaur). The group greeted Johnny at the gates of Hollywood with a musical hybrid rap / song.
He couldn't have been nicer. At one point, we were sitting beside each other in the recording booth, waiting to hear playback, when I decided to make some small talk. It went a little something like this:
Van: So Don, what do you usually do in your spare time?
Don: Well, I watch a lot of movies.
Van: Oh yeah? What theater do you usually go to?
Don: Oh, I just stay home. They just send them over to me.
Van: Oh. Cool.
Van: So, is this the first rap you've ever done?
Don: Why, yes. I think it is.
That's about all I remember. Not much, but it was enough for me to remember how surreal, yet cool, it was to have some random Don time.
LEFT FROM BACK: Collette Sunderman (director), Don Knotts, Diana Ritchey (producer), Craig Lewis (writer), Robert Serda (engineer), Karie Gima Pham (recording assistant) FRONT: Pete Oswald (PA), Megan Brain (Production Coordinator), me
Finally, we got to work with Don one last time when he voiced our "Cartoon Makeover" episode where he played himself again. Teamed up with The Blue Falcon and "Weird" Al Yankovic, the three formed an ambush makeover team that made superficial improvements on established cartoons.
We wanted to have him come in with the rest of the cast...
FROM LEFT: Jeff (Johnny Bravo) Bennett, Collette Sunderman (director), Robert Serda (engineer), Tom Kenny, Diana Ritchey (producer), Gary (The Blue Falcon) Owens, and "Weird" Al Yankovic
...but unfortunately, Don wasn't feeling too well that day, so we had to pick up his lines at a later date. Again, he was completely professional, saying every line we threw at him. One of my favorite ones was where we got to play out our "Three's Company!" "Andy Griffith Show" meta-geekiness by having him say, "That kid could benefit from a few Furley Fife skills! Hyah!"
So thank you Jon Bon Jovi, wherever you are. Without you, we would have never have thought about using Don Knotts!