Pat Welsh: The Voice of “E. T.” Memoirs Of A Voice, A Diary And Me
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Pat believed in dreams and one should never give up hope. She said. “Dreams do come true.” That day in the camera shop when Ben Burtt heard her voice was the day that her dream finally came true. E.T. was an alien biologist, and Pat Welsh was an avid naturalist. In Feb. of 2015, she would be 100 yrs old, My gift to her to share her life and dreams that she so fondly wrote about in 1931.Phone Home! More
My book details the life, both young and old, of Pat Welsh, who found fame in 1982 as the voice of E.T. in Steven Spielberg’s immortal classic about an alien left behind on Earth. The narrative includes writings from Pat’s own personal diary written in 1931 at the age of sixteen, stories of an adult Pat, and contemporary perspectives.
Pat Welsh was born in 1915 in San Francisco. She came from an affluent family, her grandfather being Robert S. Atkins, owner of a popular Department store in the city. Her Mother and Father divorced when she was only two, her Mother remarrying some years later.
The veneer of this diary of a young girl plays out in a way that expresses her dream that someday she would be famous. Starting on New Year’s Day in 1931, Pat writes with such beauty and clarity of many aspects of her life, including her longing for fame, her romantic stirrings, the popular culture of her time, and the city and its surroundings. Among her favorite spots were Hillsborough (including escapes to the famous but deserted 98-room Carolands Mansion), Carmel, San Mateo, Pebble Beach, Monterey and Santa Barbara. Her observations on school year dating and “necking” bring to life a bygone era. She talks about the ordinary – getting a driver’s license, sitting for a portrait that her grandmother is painting – and the not-so-ordinary, much of it reflective in the films and plays of the day. She loved movies and loved critiquing them: “Little Caesar” with Edward G. Robinson, “Dracula” (being told she wasn’t allowed to see it, but sneaking off anyway), Joan Crawford’s “This Modern Age,” which she thought as “stupid” and “Peach-O-Reno,” which was “awfully funny.”
She was also well read, especially for one so young: “Andrea’s Explorations in the Arctic,” George Bernard Shaw’s “The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism,” William Seabrook’s “Jungle Ways” (“I’ll get there even if it kills me – I’ll get there!”) and “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky (“Depressing – Damn Book”). All through the diary she muses about wanting to be famous and wanting to be loved. And decades later in 1982 that dream would come true thanks to a visit to a camera shop. In the early 1960s, Pat and her husband Tom were in Africa on tour with “Patrick Hemingway Safari.” Unbeknownst to Pat, her film of the tour became mixed-up with another group (thanks to an elephant stampede!); twenty years later she was finally getting them developed. It was there “E.T.”’s sound designer Ben Burtt heard her speak. It was a dream and a nightmare all at once – for it led to her voicing one of the most iconic film characters in movie history, but through photographs of the safari, taken by another, she was forever scarred by the brutality of the slaughter of animals which had been captured on those pictures.
E.T. was an alien biologist, and Pat Welsh was an avid naturalist – how fitting the two would meet one day.
Just before Tom’s passing, I was given his memory Box filled with treasures of her grandmother’s painting, along with it and many more are featured in the book. Pat Welsh and her husband Tom were friends. We talked for many hours over the years. In February of 2015, she would be 100 years old. I thought this would be my gift to her – to share her life and dreams that she so fondly wrote about in 1931. Pat believed in dreams and one should never give up hope. She said. “Dreams do come true.” That day in the camera shop when Ben Burtt heard her voice was the day that her dream finally came true.
I would like to contribute from each e-book sale, sum total of one dollar in Pat Welsh’s name… $.50 toward St. Jude’s Hospital for Children and $.50 for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
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