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Christopher Charles Collins (born Christopher Lawrence Latta, August 30, 1949 – June 12, 1994), was an American film actor, voice actor, and comedian. He is best known as the voice of Cobra Commander in the G.I. Joe animated series and Starscream in the first Transformers animated series. He had a few guest roles in the Star Trek series The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and many roles in several television series and films. He had a successful stand-up comedy career.

Christopher Collins
Chris Latta.jpg
Born
Christopher Lawrence Latta

(1949-08-30)August 30, 1949
DiedJune 12, 1994(1994-06-12) (aged 44)
Other namesChris Latta
OccupationActor, voice actor, comedian
Years active1979–1994
Spouse(s)Judith Ryan
(m. ?–1994; his death)
Children3

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Christopher Lawrence Latta was born in Orange, New Jersey to Robert Latta, a New York stage actor, and Jane Morin, an advertising executive. He grew up in the Morningside Heights (sometimes called "West Harlem") section of Manhattan, New York City. His legal name became Christopher Charles Collins when his stepfather adopted him. In his stand-up routine, he claimed to have grown up in Harlem and said his ultra-liberal parents had moved the family there "so he could meet some Negroes".

After a year at New York University, he studied acting, dance, voice and mime.

CareerEdit

In the mid-1970s, he acted on the New York and Boston stage and did voice-over work for Boston radio station WBCN.

Voice actingEdit

Collins made his animation voice acting debut as one of the English dubbers of the 1979 anime series Space Battleship Yamato (also called Star Blazers). He was most recognizable in that series as the voice of space marine Sgt. Knox during the Comet Empire installment.

One of Collins's earlier voice works was in Star Blazers second series broadcast in the United States The Comet Empire. His most notable role in the series was that of space marine Sergent Webb Knox (Saito in the Japanese version).

When he began regular voice work, he adopted the stage name Chris Latta because another Screen Actors Guild actor was performing as Chris Collins.

In 1983, Collins started voicing Cobra Commander for a five-part G.I. Joe animated miniseries. In 1984, he reprised the role for a second five-part animated mini-series, which became a regular series in 1985. Also in 1984, Collins voiced a new character, Starscream, for a three-part Transformers animated miniseries. By 1985, he was voicing other G.I. Joe and Transformers characters in toy commercials, carrying on in those roles when the two television series made their debut. He voiced the Autobot scientist Wheeljack, the Autobots' human friend Sparkplug Witwicky, and the G.I. Joe Marine Gung-Ho.

In Inhumanoids, he voiced D'Compose and Tendril, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, where he voiced Darkstorm and Cravex. In The Simpsons, he originated the voice of Mr. Burns in the first-season episodes "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", "The Telltale Head", and "Homer's Odyssey", and recorded lines (but was dubbed over in the latter) as Moe the bartender for "The Telltale Head" and "Some Enchanted Evening". Along with several other early Simpsons voice actors, he left during the first season. Hank Azaria took over the voice of Moe, while Harry Shearer assumed the role of Mr. Burns.

Live actionEdit

Later in the 1980s, Collins began working as Christopher Collins and acted in many live-action television series and motion pictures. He played Klingon Captain Kargan and Pakled Captain Grebnedlog in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Collins went on to portray two different Markalians on Deep Space Nine: first Durg, and then an unnamed assistant to The Albino. In Married... with Children, he played Roger, one of Al Bundy's bowling buddies and a member of NO MA'AM (National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood). He portrayed a mugger on an episode of Seinfeld titled "The Subway". He appears as "Mr. Forbes" in a first-season episode of NYPD Blue titled "Abandando Abandoned". He provided some voices in The Real Ghostbusters and is credited as Chris Collins. From 1989 to 1990 he originated the role of King Koopa (aka Bowser) in King Koopa's Kool Kartoons before the role was taken over by Patrick Pinney.

Collins's first live-action feature film appearance was a bit part as the sharing husband in the Patrick Swayze film Road House. He also appeared in True Identity, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, Blue Desert, and A Stranger Among Us.

On April 28, 2012, Chris Latta was posthumously inducted into the Transformers Hall of Fame. His daughter Abigail accepted on his behalf, to a standing ovation.

Stand-up comedyEdit

Collins's stand-up career peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he performed in most of the major comedy venues in the United States and Canada. In 1990, he won the San Francisco International Stand-Up Comedy Competition.[citation needed]

At the beginning of his act, he entered in a black trench coat and order the audience to applaud the person who introduced him. Afterwards, he would pick out an audience member who failed to applaud and tell him he had to "clap alone". He later told the audience he was not a comedian, but a "psychotic who learned to market his problem". Collins's comic persona was a loud, angry, mentally unstable man who liked to intimidate the audience.[citation needed] He was a frequent featured performer on An Evening at the Improv and Caroline's Comedy Hour.[citation needed]

FilmographyEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Collins married twice and had three children. Early in his career, he divided his time between New York, Boston, and Los Angeles before settling in L.A. in 1983. In 1991, he moved to Ventura, California.

Flint Dille noted on the commentary track for the 20th anniversary that Latta had died. In another interview, Dille recalled:

There was one summer when I had to bail Chris Latta out of the Hollywood jail in order to get him to the recording on time. Never figured out what he was in for, but he said it was jaywalking. Chris was a wild, interesting guy. I liked him and was very sorry to hear that he died.[1]

Collins died at the age of 44 from a cerebral hemorrhage, on June 12, 1994.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Flint Dille interview". Cybertron Chronicle. May 7, 2010. Archived from the original on May 7, 2010.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
none
Voice of Starscream
1984–1986
Succeeded by
Doug Parker
Preceded by
none
Voice of and portrayed Sparkplug Witwicky
1984–1985
Succeeded by
Kevin Dunn
Preceded by
none
Voice of Cobra Commander
1985–1990
Succeeded by
Scott McNeil