July 30, 2003 by

Jane Barbe

1 comment

Categories: Extraordinary People

jbarbe.jpg“The time is now 4:56.”
If you’ve ever called the local phone number for time, you probably heard Jane Barbe’s recorded voice.
For four decades, Barbe was the “The Telephone Lady,” the voice actress hired by telecommunication companies around the globe to tell millions of customers the date, time and weather. She was also the voice behind the message: “The number you have reached is not in service. Please check the number and try your call again.”
Barbe studied drama at the University of Georgia and worked as a featured singer with the Buddy Morrow Orchestra. Her husband, John Barbe, was the band’s music arranger.
In 1963, Barbe recorded messages for Audichron, a pioneering voice mail company. Her recordings were then used in 2,000 business and government phone systems. Anyone caught in voice mail purgatory probably heard her request to “Please hold.”
“You hear my voice in more than 1,000 cities in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, South America, Canada. Vocally, I get around,” Barbe once said.
Although she had a Southern drawl, Barbe could speak in unaccented English or with an Australian accent. She appeared in TV commercials for Coca Cola and Delta Airlines, and helped found the Atlanta, Ga., branch of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Barbe died on July 18 from cancer at the age of 74. Her voice will live on.
Hear a Barbe Recording

One Response to Jane Barbe

  1. Keith R. Wood

    We’ve always called them “Jane” recordings. I hope she goes to a good place in Heaven, and whoever came up with the loud tones in your ear before “The number you have reached . . .” goes to the worst place in Hell. That would be symmetry.

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