Joseph Leonard Stefanelli (born September 11, 1960 in San Francisco) is an American musician and actor, of Italian descent, who is best known for interim the voice of John Lennon in the 1994 film Forrest Gump.
John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was a British musician who was part of the popular English band The Beatles. Forrest Gump meets John Lennon in the Forrest Gump films, when he is invited to appear on The Dick Cavett Show, having returned to the U.S. from playing Ping-Pong in China. Forrest Gump was featured on The Dick Cavett Show in New York along with John Lennon in The Forrest Gump Film.
Forrest Gump is one of Hanks most defined performances today, but the initial choice to play the titular character was not Hanks — it was John Travolta. Forrest Gump does not actually encounter President John F. Kennedy, obviously.
He has just returned from traveling to China for some Ping-Pong diplomacy; describing that experience to Dick Cavett, he incidentally inspired the song. Forrest Gump soon becomes proficient at playing ping-pong, impresses his peers, and is ultimately sent to play in China with the Ping-Pong All-American team, part of the ping-pong diplomacy program.
Stefanelli arrived into the world of entertainment in 1989, by a unintended meeting through a mutual friend who asked him to sit in upon some jam sessions with Duncan Faure, a former lead singer of the Bay City Rollers. Duncan had recently been in be next to with Ian Mitchell and the two decided to start a band together and rehash obsolescent BCR songs. Duncan volunteered Joe to become bass player, though Joe could only feign an acoustic guitar. In just two weeks, Joe was able to play the bass guitar and went on tour with the group. This was just the dawn of his liveliness in music.
In 1992, Joe decided to audition potential talent for a spot as John Lennon in Beatles award bands throughout the Los Angeles area. Most of the bands didn’t have what Joe was looking for, so he started his own band, The Mop Tops. In the next 10 years, the Mop Tops toured the world, played Candlestick Park and Dodger Stadium, and made hundreds of personal appearances. Based upon this experience, Joe was hand-picked by director Robert Zemeckis to be the voice of John Lennon in Forrest Gump.
Today, Stefanelli resides in Southern California.
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