Voiceover actor Michael Rye dies at 94
Bridged the generations from radio to videogame work
By VARIETY STAFF
Michael Rye, a voiceover actor who brought his sonorous voice to lead roles in many radio shows and television cartoon series, died in Los Angeles on Sept. 21 after a brief illness. He was 94.
In radio's heyday, the Chicago-based Rye crowded some 40 network shows into an average week. He was Jack Armstrong on "Jack Armstrong -- The All American Boy," Gary Curtis on "Ma Perkins," Tim Lawrence on "The Guiding Light," Pembrook on "Backstage Wife." His Hollywood radio credits included "Meet Millie," "Lux Radio Theater," "Suspense," "The Whistler" and "This Is Your FBI."
Later, his voice would be heard on cartoon series "The Lone Ranger." He voiced Duke Igthorn and King Gregor on Disney's "Gummi Bears" and Green Lantern and Apache Chief on "Super Friends." As part of the Hanna Barbera stock company, Rye had many roles on "Scooby Doo," "Pound Puppies" and other HB cartoon series.
Rye segued into television with roles on "G.E. Theater," "Schlitz Playhouse," "Wagon Train," "77 Sunset Strip," "M Squad," "Dr. Kildare," among others.
Until the late '90s, Rye voiced many national television and radio commercials. He narrated thousands of industrial training films, videos and interactive software of all types and even contributed to videogames.
Rye had a significant first on his vita: He voiced the first full-length recorded book, "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin."
J. Riorden Billsbury was born in Chicago.
He served a two-year term as national president of the Information Film Producers of America (IFPA) in the 1970s. Rye was also a member of AFTRA and SAG and an honorary lifetime member of Sperdvac, the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy.
Rye is survived by his wife, Patricia Foster Rye.
Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.
RYE, Michael (John Michael Riordan Billsbury)
Born: 3/2/1918, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 9/21/2012, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Michael Rye’s westerns – actor/voice actor:
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (TV) – 1958 (Ace Rocklin)
Wagon Train (TV) – 1958 (Hanlon)
The Lone Ranger (TV) – 1966 [voice of the Lone Ranger]
Daniel Boone (TV) – 1981 [voice]