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Stephens alumna finds 'adventure' as voice of popular character

October 18, 2013

 Stephens alumna Polly Lou Livingston still isn’t used to people wanting her autograph, to take photos with her and to hear her say something—anything.
She doesn’t have the Internet, so she can’t read what people blog about her or when they demand  to see—or rather hear—more of her. In short, she has no idea just how popular she is. Indeed, Livingston has found fame, albeit in a most unusual way.
The 1948 Stephens graduate is the unique Southern voice behind Tree Trunks, a tiny yellow elephant that makes sporadic appearances on the award-winning animation “Adventure Time” on the Cartoon Network.
Producers send the scripts to her in San Antonio, and she records her lines in a local studio.
“I just read what they send me,” she said, admitting that she’s only seen herself in the show once.
She’s a fan favorite, with at least one fan site declaring her the “best cartoon voice in history.”
As William Jack Sibley of the San Antonio Current describes it, her dialect is “somewhere between a hinge in quest of lubricant and Blanche Dubois as channeled by Olive Oyl.”
“Adventure Time” creator Pen Ward contacted Livingston in 2009 with the idea that she be the voice of an elderly elephant that bakes apple pies for a living. Livingston was a friend of Ward’s mother when he was growing up, and “he remembered my terrible voice,” she said.
Livingston, aka Tree Trunks, has appeared on several episodes of the show and, in one, falls in love with a Mr. Pig, who Tree Trunks eventually marries.
That actually posed a dilemma for Livingston, who is Jewish.
“I thought I should ask my Rabbi first,” she joked, noting that her faith deems pigs unholy creatures. “But then I decided as long as I didn’t eat the pig…”
Her dialect hasn’t always been in demand, though.
“I’d still like to find that professor who kicked me out of my freshman English class because he hated my voice,” she quipped. “He told me to hold my nose and try to change it.”
Lucky for Livingston and her fans, she didn’t.  

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