Peter Fernandez, the actor and voice director best known as the title character in the animated Speed Racer series, passed away this morning due to lung cancer. He was 83.
Fernandez not only voiced Speed himself, but also his brother Racer X and several other characters in the English-dubbed adaptation of Tatsunoko's Mach Go Go Go anime series. He also directed the voice cast and even wrote the lyrics to the signature theme song. He later played Lupin III, Daisuke Jigen, and President Jimmy Carter in the JAL dubbing of the Lupin III: The Secret of Mamo film. His voice can be heard in such dubbed anime titles as Astro Boy, Gigantor, Marine Boy, Star Blazers: The Bolar Wars, and Superbook. He made a cameo appearance as an announcer in the 2008 live-action Speed Racer film.
Corinne Orr, the actress who played Speed Racer's romantic interest Trixie and younger brother Sprittle Racer, spoke with Fernandez as recently as last week. The two had worked together on 200 productions, and she noted that he was a big star on radio and Broadway and had starred in the 1949 film City Across the River "where Tony Curtis only had a bit part." Orr is the last surviving member of Speed Racer's main cast. Orr told Orr, "His great joy was doing all these conventions and receiving the acknowledgement and accolades from all his fans at the end of his life."
Fernandez said that he was glad that, in the renewed interest that accompanied the Speed Racer film, he "finally got the attention and respect he deserved from the general public and mainstream press." He added, "Anime and Japanese live-action fantasy will never be the same without him. Peter's contribution to anime and Japanese live-action will live forever."
Fernandez's family is planning a private service, but there are plans for a public celebration of his life in September in Pomona, California.
Born: 1/29/1927, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Died: 7/15/2010, Pomona, New York, U.S.A.
Peter Fernandez's westerns - voice dubbing:
Apache Gold - 1963 [various English voices]
Last of the Renegades - 1964 [various English voices]
For a Few Dollars More - 1965 [various English voices]
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 1966 [Emglish voice of Kurt Zips]
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (TV) - 1986 [various English voices]