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Video Game Voice Actors You Never Knew Passed Away

The written dialogue in video games – as well as movies and tv shows – can only prop up a narrative so much. To truly make a piece of media shine, sometimes you need a talented voice actor to give a character the spark of genuine humanity. Orson Welles, for instance, has been praised for breathing life into a variety of roles, including the narrator for War of the Worlds and the gargantuan, planet-sized transformer Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. Welles gave every acting job 110%, even when his health was declining.

In 1985, Welles passed away, and the entertainment world mourned his death. While he never voiced a video game character, quite a few notable names have passed from the halls of video game voice acting and joined Welles in the afterlife. Some voice actors were prominent faces in the entertainment industry — not unlike Welles – while others only received a scant few roles. Here's a small memoriam to some video game voice actors you never knew passed away.

Tony Jay

Some voices are as malleable as clay, and you don't realize you're hearing a specific actor unless someone points it out. And then there's Tony Jay, whose recognizably sonorous voice entertained generations of children and gamers.

Jay was a classically trained Shakespearean actor, but he is known for his cartoon work since he could seamlessly switch between a wise sage and an intimidating villain using the tiniest shifts in pitch. Jay's most recognizable work is the villains Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Megabyte from ReBoot (the original, not the Netflix one). But, Jay also has numerous video game roles under his belt.

While Jay reprised his Frollo and Megabyte voices in the Hunchback of Notre Dame and ReBoot video games, he didn't just voice pre-existing characters. Jay lent his voice to the Elder God from the Legacy of Kain franchise, The Transcendent One in Planescape: Torment, and the narrator of Hunter: The Reckoning — just to name a few.

Unfortunately, Jay died before his time. In 2006, he underwent surgery to remove a non-cancerous lung tumor. However, recovery did not go as planned, and he fell into critical condition. Jay passed on Aug. 13, 2006 at the age of 73.

Rip Torn

Old, cantankerous, and old. These words describe some of Rip Torn's most recognizable work. He played a variety of comedic roles, including Jim Brody in Freddy Got FingeredPatches O'Houlihan in Dodgeball, and Zed from Men In Black. And, Torn nailed the role of Zeus in Disney's Hercules. That role helped him get several video game voice acting jobs.

While Torn didn't leave screen acting for voice acting, he reprised his Zeus role in various Disney Hercules video games. More importantly, Torn brought another Greek-inspired piece of media to life. While Santa Monica Studio had already signed on Corey Burton to play Zeus in God of War 3, the company gave Torn a slightly smaller role as the smithing god Hephaestus.

Torn died on July 9, 2019 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was 88 at the time. However, before his death, Torn recorded voice lines for one more video game role. He will serve as someone known as The Producer in the upcoming game Shadow Stalkers.

Rick May

Not all video game voice actors have prolific careers. Some only have a few noteworthy roles. You might expect actors who fit these criteria to be bad performers unworthy to be footnotes in the voice actor lexicon, but Rick May defies that label.

If you search the internet for Rick May's acting portfolio, you won't find much. His initial roles were uncredited, but his breakout job was a double helping of Peppy Hare and Andross in Star Fox 64. May went on to play Genghis Khan in Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings and Dr. M in Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, but Peppy Hare remained his most popular voice. But then, May landed the role that would launch him into the hearts of gamers: the ever-lovable and ever-stupid Soldier from Team Fortress 2. However, this role was a double-edged shotgun since he never had any other notable voice roles. May would play the Soldier until his death.

In February of 2020, May suffered a stroke and was slowly recovering when he contracted COVID-19. He died in April at the age of 79.

Christopher Lee

There probably isn't a person alive who doesn't know the name Christopher Lee. Some recognize him as the man knighted by the Prince of Wales, while others remember him as a World War 2 Special Forces soldier. But, most know Lee as Count Dooku and Saruman from the Star Wars prequels and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, respectively — and Death from the Discworld cartoons.

Since Sir Lee acquired numerous roles thanks to his impeccable acting talent and majestic voice, he also gained various video game voice acting jobs. While most of his video game roles involved returning as Saruman, Lee also voiced the villain Lucan D'Lere in EverQuest 2. But, Lee acquired the video game role of none other than DiZ/Ansem the Wise in Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Lee died at the ripe old age of 93 after being hospitalized for heart failure and respiratory problems. In a sad turn of events, he celebrated his 93rd birthday while hospitalized.

Roddy Piper

Not every professional wrestler can make the leap to acting. Granted, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, John Cena, and  Dave Bautista have done just that. And, Hanna-Barbera went through an odd phase where WWE wrestlers teamed up with Fred Flintstone, George Jetson, and Scooby-Doo. But for the most part, wrestlers and non-wrestling acting don't mix, which is why "Rowdy" Roddy Piper is such a notable exception.

Roddy Piper started his career with the WCW and WWF (remember when WWE wasn't the only wrestling organization in town?), but he entered pop culture legend when he starred as Nada in the cult classic film They Live. None of Piper's subsequent roles measured up to Nada, but Piper still voiced some cartoon characters, including several video game characters. While most of his video game roles consisted of Piper playing himself in wrestling games, he cameos in Saints Row 4 as himself but with a twist. Roddy reprised his role of Nada in a They Live-inspired Saints Row 4 mission, complete with a Keith David fight. But, Piper introduced himself as Rowdy Roddy Piper, not Nada.

Piper died peacefully in his sleep due to cardiopulmonary arrest caused by an artery obstruction. He was 61 years old. Ironically, the day before he died, Piper told his friend Bruce Prichard he wasn't feeling well and would try to get a good night's rest.

Tim Conway

Many comedians make spectacular actors. When you are a master of the comedic craft, you already have delivery, intonation, and timing down pat. Tim Conway was a comedian who also was a fantastic actor. While he appeared on numerous TV shows, including The Carol Burnett Show and Rango, younger audiences probably know Conway as the voice of Barnacle Boy from SpongeBob Squarepants.

Conway's stint as Barnacle Boy was one of his longest-running roles, and he returned to play the character in various SpongeBob SquarePants video games. From SpongeBob SquarePants: Truth of Square to SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, if a video game featured Barnacle Boy, Conway filled the geriatric hero's flippers. On a side note, Conway also portrayed Professor Alexander Graham in Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights.

Conway died on May 14, 2019 at the age of 85. The cause was an accumulation of fluid in the brain (better known as normal pressure hydrocephalus), which caused dementia. In 2018, he underwent brain surgery to fix the issue, but he continued to deteriorate until his death.

Paul Haddad

Resident Evil — and by extension Capcom — is the revolving door of video game voice actors. It doesn't matter if someone nails a character's personality and is recognized by fans as the de facto portrayal, another actor will replace them in the next entry. While Capcom has since realized the benefits of retaining voice actors to maintain vocal consistency, the company used to hire actors for one role, never working with them again afterward. The face of this practice is Paul Haddad.

Odds are you might not recognize that name. Just who is Paul Haddad? He played Nikolai Rostov in MacGyver. Still not ringing any bells? Well, you probably know him best as the voice of Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil 2 (the original, not the remake). Haddad also lent his voice to the Playmobile video game Hype: The Time Quest, as well as the fittingly Resident Evil-inspired Daymare: 1998 where he played the character Cleaner.

Unfortunately, Haddad's death was as sudden as it was unpredictable. He died on April 11, 2020 due to a "brief and unexpected illness" at the age of 56. The cause of Haddad's death has yet to be publicly disclosed.

Burt Reynolds

Burt Reynolds started his career in black and white TV shows, mostly in Westerns such as Pony Express, Gunsmoke, and Johnny Ringo. As time moved on so did he, specifically on to bigger and better roles. Reynolds landed leading roles in Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit, and he started a voice acting career as Charlie Barkin in All Dogs Go to Heaven.

While Reynolds went on to voice cartoon characters such as King of the Hill's M.F. Thatherton, he also landed two prominent video game voice acting roles, both of which play on Reynolds' history in cowboy media. His first role was as Avery Carrington in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which unfortunately ties Reynolds to GTA infamy since Carrington is behind the notoriously difficult "Demolition Man" mission. Reynolds' second and last video game role, however, was the smaller and more comedic Mayor Burt Reynolds (i.e., he played himself) in Saints Row: The Third.

Unfortunately, Reynolds passed away in the middle of a project. He suffered a heart attack and died on Sept. 6, 2018 at the age of 82. Reynolds had signed on to play George Spahn in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood but died before his scenes were filmed. However, Reynolds managed to leave his mark on the movie since he wrote some dialogue for the Bruce Lee scene.

Kenneth Mars

If you are a fan of old movies and TV shows, you probably heard of Kenneth Mars. He is best known for his small but important roles in Mel Brooks movies, most notably Inspector Kemp in Young Frankenstein and Franz Liebkind in The Producers. Mars eventually became a prominent voice actor and primarily had minor roles, but he entered voice acting royalty when he played King Triton in The Little Mermaid.

Most of Mars' video game roles revolved around King Triton, as he would reprise the character in various Disney properties, including Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. However, Mars' only other notable video game role is none other than Overseer Jacoren in Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game. While not as synonymous to the franchise as Ron Perlman, Mars still had the enviable task of voicing the first character players see in the game.

On Feb. 12, 2011, Mars died from pancreatic cancer. He was 75 years old at the time.

Christine Cavanaugh

If you grew up in the '90s, you lived through the golden age of cartoons. Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network were overflowing with shows that live on in the minds of older audiences. While writing was an essential part of these shows, they would haven't received as much attention without voice actors like Christine Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh lent her voice to quite a few '90s icons. She was Gosalyn Mallard from Darkwing Duck and Bunnie Rabbot in Sonic the Hedgehog. But, Cavanaugh is best known for Chuckie Finster from Rugrats and Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory. Cavanaugh's video game roles, however, were far less varied. She reprised her Chuckie role for a variety of Rugrats games, including Rugrats: Search for Reptar and the Rugrats in Paris: The Movie video game, but that's about it. The only exception was when she voiced Aaahh!! Real Monsters' Oblina in Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker. And yes, Cavanaugh portrayed Oblina in the show, too.

Cavanaugh died on Dec. 22, 2014 at the age of 51. The cause of death was never disclosed to the public, but some believe it was due to chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Michael Clarke Duncan

Very few actors have a rich baritone voice quite like Michael Clarke Duncan. The man could have gone on tour reading the phone book, and he would have sold out every show and received rave reviews. Duncan might have started as a ditch digger (no, seriously), but he quickly found a place in the world of acting, especially after his role as John Coffey in The Green Mile.

Since Duncan had a rare, charismatically deep voice, he put it to good use in voice acting roles, including plenty of video game characters. Gamers might recognize him as Blackmore from The Suffering: Ties that Bind, Benjamin King from Saints Row and Saints Row 4, Atlas from God of War 2, and Slaad Lord Ygorl from Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone.

On July 13, 2012, Duncan suffered a heart attack. He was hospitalized and remained there until his death on Sept. 3, 2012. He was 54 years old.

Harold Ramis

Most people see Harold Ramis more of an actor than a writer. While he helped create movies such as Caddyshack, Knocked Up, and the Ghostbusters films, most audiences recognize him thanks to the iconic role of Dr. Egon Spengler.

Ramis has only one video game credit to his name, and it is precisely what you think it is. The man helped write the Ghostbusters video game, and since he played one of the movies' central characters, he returned to bring Dr. Spengler back to life in the game.

Unfortunately, Ramis' Dr. Spengler reprisal was one of his last acting roles before a drawn out illness that led to his death. In May of 2010, Ramis got an undisclosed infection, which combined with another issue he had — autoimmune disease inflammatory vasculitis — to wreak havoc on his body. The interaction between the infection and Ramis' vasculitis was so bad that he had to learn how to walk again. Ramis suffered a relapse in 2011 and eventually died on Feb. 24, 2014 at the age of 69.

Verne Troyer

Verne Troyer was born with cartilage-hair hypoplasia (i.e., dwarfism), but he used his size to his advantage. He landed numerous roles that called for people with short stature, but most of the jobs were anything but small. Troyer is best known as Mini-Me from the Austin Powers movies, but he also played the goblin Griphook in the Harry Potter films, as well as Dr. Phreak in Bubble Boy.

Even though 99% of Troyer's roles were live action, he had one video game voice acting role. You might be surprised to hear this, but Troyer is the voice of Jackal X in Let It Die. It's not a major role, but if you ever wondered why Jackal X has such a high-pitched voice in the game, you can thank Troyer for lending his vocal chords to the character.

Troyer's death is a sad one. He was 49 years old when he died on April 21, 2018. While no cause was immediately revealed, reports later stated he had "a very high level of alcohol in his system" at the time of death. Troyer's coroner believes the death was a possible suicide.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Filipe Duarte

You probably never heard of Filipe Duarte, which isn't surprising. He was a Portuguese actor mostly known in Portugal for his live roles in television and movies, primarily soap operas. He played Fernando Ataíde on Variações: Guardian Angel and Hugo in The Invisible Life.

One of Duarte's only video game credits is as the Portuguese voice of Days Gone's protagonist Deacon St. John. It was one of his final roles before he died in April 2020. Reports surrounding his death vary. The official cause of death is a heart attack, but some people believe he died due to COVID-19. No matter the actual cause, Duarte died far too young.

David Ogden Stiers

The name of David Ogden Stiers might not seem familiar, but his roles are recognized by audiences of all ages. He had a long and illustrious acting career and found a home in a variety of roles. Stiers' most popular character was Major Charles Winchester in M*A*S*H. Stiers also played the recurring character D.A. Michael Reston in the Perry Mason TV movies, but more importantly, he landed several voice roles in Disney movies, specifically Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, Governor Ratcliffe in Pocahontas, and Jumba in Lilo & Stitch.

Stiers returned to his Disney roles for their video game counterparts. He reprised Cogsworth in Kingdom Hearts 2 and Jumba in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, but he also played characters in non-Disney video games, as well. Stiers served as the narrator in Forgotten Realms: Icewind Dale, as well Belhifet in Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. He also played the parts of Jeff Zandi and Esher in Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and Myst 5: End of Ages, respectively.

Stiers died at the age of 75 on March 3, 2018. The cause was a losing battle with bladder cancer.