Entries in obit (3)


Animation World Loses Voice of Smurfette: Lucille Bliss Dies at 96

Rebecca Sapp/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Lucille Bliss has passed away at the age of 96, but her voice lives on through iconic cartoon characters like Smurfette of The Smurfs, Anastasia from Cinderella, and more recently Yagoda from the film Avatar.

Born in New York City on March 31, 1916, Bliss had a talent that was appreciated and later pursued by the creators of cartoons. In 1950 she voiced her first cartoon character, Crusader Rabbit.

Her vocal talent nailed her roles in a number of Disney features and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Bliss also was heard in several Warner Bros. and MGM theatrical cartoons in the 1950s.

Quick to detect her talent, Walt Disney did not hesitate to use her in a leading cartoon motion picture in 1950. The film was Cinderella.

“In the fiftieth anniversary of the film, the Disney Company put out a commemorative book. There I read that Walt had personally selected me for the part of Anastasia. I had never known that before, and it almost made me cry. I wished I had thanked him,” Bliss said in an interview for the book How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life.

Bliss’ loss was hard-felt in the world of voice acting and animation. “It feels we’re losing an era of talent that she represents through her sensitivity for animation. She is a huge loss given all her big contributions. She showcases a certain uniqueness like no other,” Michael D. Cohen, a voice actor and acting coach in Los Angeles, told ABC News.

Bliss’ agent, Don Pitts, agreed with Cohen. Bliss and Pitts worked together in San Francisco on radio programs in the 1950s. He had been her agent from the 1960s up until five years ago when she stopped acting. “It’s a great loss. She was one of the leading actors in this line of industry and her absence will be felt,” Pitts told ABC News.

Her signature voice, acting talent, and a lot of hard work contributed to her success. “Bliss had two apartments in the 1950s, one in San Francisco and another in Los Angeles. She would shuttle from one city to the other to audition for jobs. She did that for almost twenty years. I never knew any actor like that,” Pitts said.

Bliss had a flexibility and profoundness to her voice not very common among female voice actresses. “Her voice had a unique quality to it,” Cohen said. “She had the voice of a little girl’s innocence combined with a gravel of an old woman’s voice. Normally women’s voices can be one or the other, but Lucille possessed both qualities and could play both.”

Bliss’ acting talent allowed her seamlessly to embrace the character she was voicing. In an interview with Archive of American Television, Bliss recounted the relationship she had with Smurfette, an iconic role she played for eight years.

“Smurfette felt so real to me because I created her voice, so I could feel her emotions. It may sound strange but it’s true. We have to think like the character and it takes over. That’s what I tell my students, too. You must lose yourself if you want to be successful in animation and be the character,” she said.

Outside the world of animation, Bliss hosted “The Happy Birthday to You Show” on San Francisco’s KRON-TV.  In 1999 she won the Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award for her role in Cinderella. In 2000 she won a Winsor McCay Award at the 28th Annie Awards for special achievement in animation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Jeffersons" Star Sherman Hemsley Dies at 74

SGranitz/WireImage(LOS ANGELES) -- Sherman Hemsley, the actor best known for playing George Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons, has died, his publicist confirmed to ABC News. He was 74.

His cause of death was not immediately known.

Hemsley acted on stage before going to the screen, making his Broadway debut as Gitlow in Purlie. He first found sitcom stardom in All in the Family, playing Archie Bunker’s African-American neighbor.

In 1975, Hemsley and his All in the Family co-star Isabel Sanford were given their own spin-off, The Jeffersons. The hit show earned Hemsley Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in 1984 and 1985, respectively.

From 1986 to 1991, Hemsley played Deacon Ernest Frye the TV series, Amen.

Hemsley and Sanford reunited multiple times in the ’90s and ’00s to reprise their roles as George and Louise "Weezy" Jefferson, appearing on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and in commercials.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79 

Archive Photos/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor has died.  She passed away Wednesday in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 79, according to a statement by her family, with her children at her side.  She is survived by her four children, as well as 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  Taylor was hospitalized six weeks ago with congestive heart failure.  A private family funeral will be held later this week.  The family asks that in lieu of flowers, contributions should be make to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.  Fans can also log onto to leave personal tributes to the Oscar-winning icon.

In a statement, her son Michael Wilding said, "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love.   Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.   Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished.  We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it.   Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio