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Who is Jane Barbe?

Jane Barbe was the quintessential voice of telephony, greeting millions with her recorded messages. Her calm, clear tone guided callers through time checks, directory assistance, and error notifications. Her voice became an iconic thread in the fabric of American communication. Curious about how her voice became a telephonic touchstone? Discover the story behind Jane Barbe's ubiquitous presence.
J. Beam
J. Beam

Jane Barbe was a drama major and voice actress from Georgia who, though not at all well known by appearance, has one of the most infamous and frequently heard voices of all time. Beginning a voice recording career for the Audichron Company (now ETC) in 1963, Jane Barbe became known as the “Time and Temperature Lady” or simply the “Telephone Lady.” Hers is the voice everyone in America became accustomed to hearing when dialing a number that was disconnected, changed, or no longer in service.

Born in Florida in 1928, Jane Barbe grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and studied drama at the University of Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She recorded her first commercial while working as a copywriter. She began recording the time, temperature, and weather for Audichron in 1963 and also recorded outgoing messages for early voice mail systems. By the 1980s, Jane Barbe was the voice of recorded messages on phone services throughout the United States.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Though she had a southern dialect in person from growing up in Georgia, her study of drama and voice acting enabled her to maintain a more generic dialect. She even voiced recordings used outside the United States. In addition to her work as the “phone lady,” Jane Barbe also did professional voice-overs in radio and television. Barbe also performed as a feature singer with the Buddy Morrow Orchestra, where she met her husband John. In 1988, she voiced Margaret Mitchell as the narrator in the documentary film The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind.

Jane Barbe also founded The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Though she was seldom known by face alone, people made an instant connection whenever they learned who she was. Married to John Barbe with two gown children, Jane Barbe died of complications from cancer in July of 2003 at the age of 74.

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