End of messages
Remember the voicemail system at 79 Fifth? It is my sad duty to report that Jane Barbe, the woman whose voice we heard every time we checked our messages, has died at the age of 74.
Here's the obit from the New York Times ...
July 30, 2003
Jane Barbe, 74, Notable Voice on Those Phone Recordings, Dies
By STUART LAVIETES
Jane Barbe, who was known to millions, though not by name or appearance, as the voice of telephone-company recordings and voice-mail systems across America, died on July 18 in Roswell, Ga. She was 74.
The cause was complications of cancer, said her husband, John.
Ms. Barbe began her career of delivering impersonal messages in friendly, helpful tones in 1963. Working for Electronic Communications Inc. in Atlanta, she recorded the time and temperature information provided by phone companies, then tackled the "intercept" messages — like "The number you have dialed is not in service" — that greet misdialers and the misinformed.
She also recorded daily horoscopes as well as a short-lived series of seasonal messages from Mrs. Claus, which was discontinued after out-of-state parents complained about the long-distance charges run up by their children.
In the early 1980's, Ms. Barbe was chosen by Octel Communications, now part of Avaya, to record messages for its nascent voice-mail technology. Her voice is now heard at thousands of companies, helping employees to administer personal greetings and outside callers to find their way out of "voice-mail jail."
Ms. Barbe's talent involved more than a pleasant phone manner. She had the ability to give readings of precise lengths, often measured in tenths of seconds, which are required in a medium in which messages are often assembled from dozens of individual sound bites.
She was also adept at vocal characterizations. She recorded messages for an Australian phone company in an Australian accent and provided the voice of Margaret Mitchell for the 1988 film " `Gone With the Wind': The Making of a Legend." The soft Southern accent came naturally to her; she usually suppressed it in the recording studio.
Born Jane Schneider on July 28, 1928, in Florida, she moved with her family to Atlanta as a small child. She studied drama at the University of Georgia.
She is survived by her husband, John, a composer who grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y.; a daughter, Susan Stubin of Passaic, N.J.; a son, David, of Athens, Ga., and seven grandchildren.
In contrast to her sometimes long-winded messages for voice-mail systems, her own home answering machine's message was refreshingly direct and to the point. "I keep it as simple as possible," she explained in an interview with The New York Times last year. "I have a friend whose machine says, `At the beep, speak.' I like that."