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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 Lawrence Latta
August 30, 1949
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||June 12, 1994 (aged 44)|
Ventura, California, U.S.
|Other names||Chris Latta|
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, comedian|
(m. ?–1994; his death)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. He was a frequent featured performer on An Evening at the Improv and Caroline's Comedy Hour.
- Star Blazers (1979) – Comet Empire General Dire, Sergeant Knox
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1983) – Cobra Commander, Breaker, Steeler (voice)
- Pac-Man (1983) – Additional voices
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1983) – Beetle, Sandman (voice)
- The Transformers (1984–1987) – Starscream, Wheeljack, Sparkplug Witwicky, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Reflector, Defensor (voice)
- Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines (1985) – Adrian Ravenscrodr, Ernie Slye (voice)
- The Transformers: The Movie (1986) – Starscream, Laserbeak (uncredited) (voice)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1985–1986) – Cobra Commander, Gung-Ho, Breaker, Ripper, Steeler, Horrorshow, Frostbite (voice)
- Inhumanoids (1986) – D'Compose, Tendrill, Statesman Granahue (voice)
- The Blinkins: The Bear and the Blizzard (1986) – Slime (voice)
- Inhumanoids: The Movie (1986) – D'Compose, Granahue, Tendril (voice)
- G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987) – Cobra Commander, Gung-Ho, Ripper (voice)
- Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light (1987) – Darkstorm, Cravex, Falkama (voice)
- This is America, Charlie Brown (1988) – Sailor (voice)
- Superman (1988) – Additional voices
- Mr. Belvedere (1988) – Tom
- King Koopa's Kool Kartoons (1989) – King Koopa
- G.I. Joe: Operation Dragonfire (1989) – Cobra Commander (voice)
- Mama's Family (1989) – Larry McCary
- Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989) – Captain Grebnedlog, Captain Kargan
- Road House (1989) – Sharing Husband
- Anything But Love (1989) – Charles
- The Real Ghostbusters (1990) – Sammy K. Ferret (voice)
- The Simpsons (1989–1990) – Mr. Burns (voice)
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (1989 TV series) (1990–1992) – Cobra Commander (voice)
- Blue Desert (1991) – Phone Man
- Doogie Howser, M.D. (1991) – Mr. Stapleton
- Rover Dangerfield (1991) – Big Boss / Coyote / Sparky / Wolf / Horse (voice)
- True Identity (1991) – Frank LaMotta
- Danger Team (1991) – Truk
- Seinfeld (1992) – Thug
- Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) – Gang Member
- A Stranger Among Us (1992) – Chris Baldessari
- The Golden Palace (1992) – Angel
- Civil Wars (1992) – P.J. Stone
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1994) – Guard, Durg
- Married... with Children (1993–1994) – Rodger
- NYPD Blue (1994) – Paul Forbes
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.
Collins died at the age of 44 from a cerebral hemorrhage, on June 12, 1994.
- Christopher Collins on IMDb
- Christopher Collins at AllMovie
- Christopher Collins at Find a Grave
- Christopher Collins at Memory Alpha (a Star Trek wiki)
| Voice of Starscream
| Voice of and portrayed Sparkplug Witwicky
| Voice of Cobra Commander