Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dick Tufeld Passes On

Voice artist Dick Tufeld, best known for providing the voice for the Robot on Lost in Space, passed on 22 January 2012 at the age of 85.

Dick Tufeld was born on 11 December 1926 in Los Angeles, California. He grew up in Pasadena, California. As a child he was fascinated by radio dramas such as The Shadow and The Green Hornet. He studied at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, majoring in speech. After college he moved to Los Angeles, where he found employment in radio. Starting in 1949 he was the announcer on The Amazing Mr. Malone, Falstaff's Fables, and the radio version of Space Patrol.

It was through Space Patrol that he first worked in television, serving as the announcer of the television version of the space opera starting in 1953. He also served as the announcer on the Fifties series Annie Oakley and Surfside 6. In the Sixties he was the announcer on the TV series The Gallant Men and The Judy Garland Show. It was in 1964 that he first worked with producer Irwin Allen on the TV show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, serving as a the announcer on that series. It was in 1965 that he received his most famous job, one courtesy of Irwin Allen, as the Robot on Lost in Space. Memorable for the line (not quite uttered every episode) "Danger, Will Robinson," the Robot was easily the most popular character on the show alongside Dr. Smith (played by Jonathan Harris). He also served as the announcer on the Irwin Allen show The Time Tunnel.  In the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties he served as an announcer on cartoons such as The Fantastic Four, Spider-Woman, Thundarr the Barbarian, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Garfield and Friends, and Histeria. He reprised his role as the Robot in the 1998 feature film version of Lost in Space and in 1998 and 2004 episodes of The Simpsons.

Dick Tufeld also voiced many commercials over the years. He voiced commercials for Mr. Bubble bubble bath, Gallo wine, and Zenith television sets. He also narrated The Wonderful World of Disney and the trailer for the movie Mary Poppins.

While not everyone might recognise Dick Tufeld's name, the majority of the population might well recognise his voice. Even if he had not been the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space, his voice was ubiquitous on television from the Fifties into the Sixties. The reason was that he was one of the great voice talents of his generation. Mr. Tufeld's voice was mid-ranged and very easy on the ears. He could convey excitement without seeming bombastic or overblown. What is more, his voice was such that he could convey emotions very subtlety, whether it was excitement, solemnity, or sorrow that was called for. It is little wonder, then, that he should have done so many television shows and commercials, or that the Robot on Lost in Space is remembered to this day. 

1 comment:

Larry said...

I had a link to a youtube clip about the robot yesterday on my facebook page in memory of Dick. I enjoyed your writing about him.