In Passing…

The voiceover community and industry has lost some great talents recently, and I would be remiss if I neglected to mention them here.

Connie Zimet
(1942-2009)
Died from bronchitis in the final stages of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at her home in Plantation, FL on Tuesday, March 10th. She was 67. Zimet called herself “a working voice actor since the age of 8,” and in addition to a long career in voiceovers, she was also a stage actor, singer, and recording artist who was the singing voice of Lucy on a cast recording of the 1967 Off-Broadway musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

Zimet was a mentor to voice talent Linda Bruno, who granted permission to share her memory of Connie here which she originally posted on Voiceover Universe:

The woman who inspired me to become the voice actress I am today passed away last night from her struggle with ALS. I will forever be in her debt for her influence and support. She will be greatly missed as one of the best talents in the business, and a loving mother.

She meant so much to so many people that she taught and inspired. I was only 18 when she allowed me to sit in on one of her classes. I remember feeling so intimidated by all the experienced talent in the room, but she encouraged me to get behind the mic for the first time. Even though I was nervous beyond belief, she supported me and gave me that first encouragement to try a piece of copy. With her direction and patience, I read my first piece of copy and my life was forever changed. At the end of the class, she pulled me aside and in her very frank and honest way (Connie was always a straight forward New Yorker), said, “You could make money doing this for a living, you could do this if you wanted”. That was all I needed to hear. My goal of becoming a VO talent was set. She helped me create my first demo and with her no nonsense approach, sent me on my way to struggle in the business. That was 20 years ago! She was always there with a supportive comment or good advice if needed and since then, I’ve met several talent in NYC that were coached by her in Miami, also affected by her style. I’ve searched long and hard to find a coach who taught in a similar fashion here in NY, and even tried to convince her to come up here for teaching, but she was meant to stay in South Florida.

She will be missed tremendously but without her, I wouldn’t have found my calling as a voice talent and everyday that I wake up grateful to do what I love for a living, I say a little thanks to Connie Zimet.

Prior to her death, Zimet was writing Connie Zimet’s Voice-over Tool Box which her son, Zach Ziskin plans to complete. Ziskin is also planning a celebration of her life in the coming months.

Sources: The Miami Herald, Voice Over Times

Brian James (1960-2009)
Died unexpectedly of a heart attack at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, March 6th. He was 48. James was one of the most widely-heard image voices in the U.S. and the UK, primarily for radio but he also did TV promo work (such as the announcer on Extra!). He was the self-proclaimed “Evil Overlord of the Voiceover Universe” and was an active member of the VoiceoverUniverse.com community where his peers called him “a real pro,” “a true artist,” “a great inspiration,” an “incredible talent,” and “one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the biz.”

You can listen to tributes of Brian’s work on Youtube from WIXX 101 Green Bay, WI, KZHT 97.1 Salt Lake City, UT, KDWB 101.3 Minneapolis, MN, and BestRadioCommercials.com.

A benefit is being organized to raise money for Brian’s children that will take place in Phoenix, AZ within the next month. Visit VO-BB.com for details.

Paul Harvey (1918-2009)
Died surrounded by family and friends at a hospital in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday, February 28th. He was 90. With a career spanning more than 70 years in radio, Harvey was known for his distinctive vocal delivery as the host of News and Comment and more famously for The Rest of the Story which had a listening audience estimated at over 22 million people per week.

I’ve been listening to Paul’s “The Rest of the Story” radio broadcast since I was in grade school. His voice and unique style of delivery commanded your attention and made you hang on his every word. He had a level of talent and skill that I would think every voice actor aspires to achieve.

His voice and personality will be greatly missed.

Sources: PaulHarvey.com, San Bernadino County Sun, Time.com, CNN.com, and Wikipedia.

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