Sunday, 18 July 2010

Peter Fernandez, the Voice of Speed Racer, Passes On

Peter Fernadez, who provided the voice for Speed Racer in the anime of the same name. passed on July 15, 2010, at the age of 83. The cause was cancer.

Peter Fernandez was born on January 2, 1927 in New York City. From ages 7 to 11 he worked as a model for the John Robert Powers Agency. He made his debut on Broadway when he was only 11 in the play Whiteoaks in 1938. Over the next few years he would appear on Broadway in such plays as Love's Old Sweet Song (1940), The Damask Cheek (1942), and Listen Professor (1943). He also worked on radio shows, including children's shows. He would also work on such radio shows as The Adventures of Superman, Suspense, Gangbusters, and Mr. District Attorney. In 1945 Mr. Fernandez was drafted in the United States Army, but World War II ended before he could seen any action.

In 1945 Peter Fernandez started writing Western and adventure stories for pulp magazines.In 1949 he made his feature film debut in the movie City Across the River. He also started working ion television, in such shows as Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Suspense, Kraft Theatre, Armstrong Circle Theatre, and The Hallmark Hall of Fame. He was a regular on the series Leave It to Papa in 1950. In 1955 he appeared one last time on Broadway, in the play Once Upon a Tailor. It was in 1960 that Mr. Fernandez first provided voice work on the English version of an anime. He was the voice of Alakazam in Alakazam the Great, the English language version of the anime Saiyuki.

Mr, Fernandez found steady work providing his voice for both live action foreign films and animated TV series. He did dubbing work on Mothra (1961) and  Buddha (1961). He provided additional voices for the first episode of Astroboy, the American version of the anime Tetsuwan Atomu. He also provided voice work for Gigantor, the American versio nof the anime Tetsujin 28-go. During this period Mr. Fernandez also worked as a voice or dialogue director on films ranging from Buddha (1961) to Godzilla versus the Sea Monster (1966). He also wrote scripts for the Americanised episodes of Astroboy and Gignator, as well as scripts for The Alley Cats (1966) and The Space Giants (1967).

It was in 1967 that Peter Fernandez would provide the voice for his most famous character, the lead in the show Speed Racer, the Engish version of the anime Mach Go Go Go. He also provided the voice of the mysterious Racer X and Speed's brother James, as well as writing scripts for the series and acting as its voice director. Mr. Fernadez would also be the voice of Dr. Mariner on Marine Boy, the English version of the anime Kaitei Shōnen Marin. Mr. Fernandez also wrote scripts for Marine Boy and served as its voice director.

Peter Fernadez provided voice work for the American version of Ultraman in 1972, as well as providing scripts for the American version of the show. He was the voice of Mark Venture on Star Blazers, the American version of the anime Uchū Senkan Yamato. Over the years Mr. Fenandez would provide voice work for  The Enchanted Journey (1984), Castle in the Sky (Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta, 1986), What's Been Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), the animated series Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, the animated series Kenny the Shark, and the TV series Obie and Bengie. He played additional voice on the show Courage the Cowardly Dog. Mr. Fernadez also appeared in the documentary Otaku Unite. He would also return to Speed Racer after a fashion. He provided the voice of the announcer in the 2008 film adaptation of Speed Racer and the voice of Spritle in Speed Racer: The Next Generation.

Peter Fernandez was giant in anime fandom, and there is little reason to wonder why. As a voice actor he was exceedingly versatile. Indeed, one only need watch Speed Racer to know this. As Speed his voice sounds like that of a very young man. As Racer X his voice is not only lower, but rather more ominous. Speed and Racer X's voices sound as if they come from two different people, both both were done by Peter Fernandez. Aside from his versatility, it must be pointed out that as a voice actor he had one of the longest careers of any actor who dubbed anime. Alakazam the Great was only the third anime feature film to be released in the United States (Tale of the White Serpent was released in March, Magic Boy in June, and Alakazam the Great in July, all during 1961). He also worked on Astroboy, the first anime TV series released in the United States. Indeed, it must be pointed out that Peter Fernandez is one of the few individuals who worked on four of the early anime series released in the United States in the Sixties, and four of the most important at that (Astroboy, Gigantor, Speed Racer, and Marine Boy). Mr. Fernandez was a great voice actor and certainly important to the history of anime in the United States.

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