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Rodger Bumpass is an actor and voice performer who was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and attended Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). Along with numerous television and film roles, he has achieved fame as the voice of the character Squidward in the popular SpongeBob SquarePants film and TV series.
Rodger Bumpass was born on November 20, 1951, in Little Rock to Carroll C. Bumpass and Virginia Cathey Bumpass, owners of Bumpass Cleaners and Dyers in Little Rock. He had two siblings, Leonard and Cathey (the latter of whom died at birth), and attended Little Rock Central High School, where he obtained his first experience in theater, primarily in the area of comedy. In high school, he attended a radio–TV competition at Arkansas State University, where he won the announcing contest. Upon graduation from Central High School in 1970, he decided to attend ASU, where he majored in radio–TV and minored in theater. He worked at the campus radio station and later found a job at Jonesboro’s ABC television affiliate, KAIT-TV.
At KAIT, he worked as an announcer, film processor, cameraman, audio technician, and technical director. He also won his own late-night comedy program called Mid-Century Nonsense Festival Featuring Kumquat Theater, for which he wrote and performed. After acting in a theatrical competition and being encouraged by an ASU professor to consider professional theater, he graduated from ASU in 1976 and left for New York in June 1977.
Among his early jobs in Manhattan was selling carpet cleaner on the sidewalk outside Woolworth’s. He auditioned and won a role in the National Lampoon’s music and comedy road show titled, That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick (1977–78).
The show toured forty-five states and played the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Bumpass was often singled out for special praise in reviews of the show. In 1979, the National Lampoon began producing its next movie in Hollywood, to be called Jaws III–People 0. Bumpass was awarded the leading role, in which he would have a love scene with Bo Derrick. However, the film was canceled due to objections by the creators of the movie Jaws.
Bumpass remained in Los Angeles, found an agent, and soon began appearing in movies such as Escape from New York (1981) and TV shows including Hart to Hart and Silk Stalkings. He also became greatly in demand for his voice work. He has voiced characters in films such as Heavy Metal (1981), Hercules (1997), A Bug’s Life (1998), Tarzan (1999), The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Spirited Away (2002), Treasure Planet (2002), Shrek II (2004), and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).
His TV voice work includes The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Batman: The Animated Series, Invader ZIM (as Professor Membrane), and beginning in 1999, the hit Nickelodeon TV show SpongeBob SquarePants as Squidward Tentacles, a squid who seems annoyed by almost everything in the fictitious undersea world of Bikini Bottom in the Pacific Ocean.
In November 2004, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was released. Bumpass again portrayed Squidward. Fellow cast members included Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Tambor, Scarlett Johansson, and David Hasselhoff. He has also done voice work for the TV shows Chuggington (2010), Gravity Falls (2012), and Teen Titans Go! (2013), among others, as well as for the movie Monsters University (2013).
On-camera roles in TV movies include Santa Jr. (2002), A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004), Just Desserts (2004), Murder Without Conviction (2004), and the two-part mini-series Marco Polo: Discovery of the World. He also had a film role in the theatrical release, Cars (2006) and has done voice work for such video games as Infamous (2009) and Dead to Rights: Retribution (2010).
Bumpass continues to be in demand for both on-camera and voice work. He resides in Burbank, California.
For additional information:Hendricks, Nancy. “Alumni Profile: Rodger Bumpass ’76.” Voices: The ASU Alumni Association Magazine (Spring 2005): 4–5.
“Rodger Bumpass.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0120309/ (accessed November 6, 2018).
O’Neal, Rachel. “Rodger Dale Bumpass.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 21, 2018, pp. 1D, 7D.
Nancy HendricksArkansas State University
Last Updated 11/6/2018
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