Peter Fernandez, the Voice of Speed Racer, Dies at 83

The man behind the voice of one of the most iconic cartoon characters of all time passes.

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By MovieTheaterLad - 7/17/2010
Here he comes... and there he goes...

Peter Fernandez, the man behind the voice of Speed Racer, has finally crossed the finish line.



In the world of anime, many names and titles are well known and popular amongst all of the various anime communities. But only a select few of these ever have the charm and lovableness to gain international and mainstream popularity, and even fewer get to go down as true landmarks in animation. Speed Racer was one of these lucky shows: a story of high octane, adrenaline pumping, fuel burning action that had kids hooked from the very beginning. How can we not be familiar with the bright colors, the fun and energetic music, and of course, the delightfully rapid-fire dialogue? One of the great pop-icons of the 60's, Speed Racer has maintained one of the best legacies in cartoon history, and it was all thanks to the man who voiced the titular character himself.

The star of this show was a plucky young daredevil named Speed Racer, voiced by a much younger Peter Fernandez. In the show, he balanced his life of racing cars (in races that he could not race in because they were MUCH too dangerous, but he had to race in those races anyway), to spending time with his family and girlfriend Trixie, as well as trying to discover the unknown fate of his brother who supposedly died in a car crash when he was younger. Little did he know that one of his rivals, the mysterious Racer X, was actually his brother in disguise.

Peter began working in showbiz at a young age, appearing in Broadway plays and children's radio shows and then moved onto writing for various fiction magazines. But it wasn't until Fred Ladd showed up that Petey got his brake, as Fred had hired him to write scripts for a new imported cartoon for Japan named Astro Boy. After the success of that, followed by the subsequent hit Gigantor, Peter was later hired to write and voice in the show that would define his career, Speed Racer. Fernandez brought a genuine sense of energy to the series, having both voiced Speed as well as Racer X, and even made contributions in the writings of scripts as well as directed some of the other voice actors. He is most noted for the amount of words that he could fit into dialogue, one of the staples of the show. “A lot of syllables were used in Japanese,” Egan Loo, news editor for Anime News Network said, “and to match the mouth flaps, he filled in the English dialogue with as many words as were needed. He took a quintessentially Japanese title and made it so Americans could enjoy it. Speed Racer was one of the first titles that turned Americans into fans of Japanese animation.”

Truly a man of his craft, Peter Fernandez is a true pioneer of anime dubbing, a tricky business that can spark adoration or hatred from fans alike. But unlike some anime that hired their dub actors off the street, Fernandez proved that even when anime was still barely managing it's way into American markets, that it still be done with care and precision. He even wrote the lyrics to the legendary theme song.



Since then, Speed Racer had evolved into a major intellectual property, featuring all sorts of merchandise ranging from toys to lunchboxes and anything else you could think of. And of course, it has also met with various re-imaginings and reboots, as well as the plethora of hilarious parodies (my personal favorite being the "Mock 5" episode of Dexter's Laboratory, in which Dexter's father laments the loss of his sister in the same manner as Speed's brother, despite her being very much alive and often trying to get her father's attention to re-iterate that she was, in fact, very much alive. Yet she still went rogue as a masked racer and yet people couldn't tell who she was despite how painfully obvious she tried to make it). In 2008, a live-action film was made by the Wachowski Bros. starring an all-star cast including Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer, Matthew Fox as Racer X, Christina Ricci as Trixie, and John Goodman as Pops Racer, among many others. Peter Fernandez cameo-ed as a newscaster in the first and last races in the movie.



Throughout the years in which we grow older, it's comforting to know that many things we all love will live on long after we do, and be there for our children and their children and so forth. Speed Racer was one of those very things. It was their for our parents, and it was there for us, too. And now as the legend behind the hero passes on and leaves his legacy in our hands as he pulled into the great big garage in the sky, it is important that we decide how we will honor and cherish it, and pass it on to the next group of little demons on wheels as they chase after their own dream and aspirations.

Or maybe he faked his death to become Voice Actor X.
Source: New York Times
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23 Comments
OverCross - 7/17/2010, 5:57 AM
RIP Sir
flames809 - 7/17/2010, 9:12 AM
dAMM RIP
MovieTheaterLad - 7/17/2010, 9:31 AM
@grif

What the hell are you talking about? It was a great movie.

Oh wait. You're the guy who only stops by articles to say "Looks like shit" or "Fail" or to post that stupid "man vs Wolverine" video and never contribute any actual comments or discussion for anything.

Piss off.
deadpoox - 7/17/2010, 11:49 AM
NOOOOOOOO RIP. +
BubbaDude - 7/17/2010, 12:33 PM
That show is one of my all time favorites. R.I.P. sir.
JoshWilding - 7/17/2010, 12:47 PM
Leave grif alone! Sure, the guy loves to complain but CBM wouldnt be the same without him! :D And for the record, I also thought it was a shit movie.

Anyway, I'm not that familiar with Fernandez or his work but RIP regardless.
secretasianboy - 7/17/2010, 1:39 PM
rip

@Erickz thats quite insensitive
CBArtist - 7/17/2010, 1:46 PM
I grew up watching this show back in the early 70's. It was campy and fun. And the movie brought some of that with it.

R.I.P Mr. Fernandez. "The real Speed Racer"
AshleyWilliams - 7/17/2010, 2:05 PM
RIP. MTL FTW.
I thought the movie served it's purpose. I would never watch it again though.
InstigatorGIRL - 7/17/2010, 2:46 PM
@MTL Hey if you liked Speed Racer then fine but I have to agree with grif. It was a crap movie to me and not everyone is going to like the same things as you. No reason to get tissy about it.

Also no offense, but everyone knows how grif is and yet you (and others) still let him get your panties in a twist. LOL. Let it go.
MovieTheaterLad - 7/17/2010, 3:28 PM
@IGirl

Well I'm sorry, but I find it highly disrespectful that he just waltzes in here only to say "What a piece of shit movie" oh, and THEN say RIP. It's incredibly rude considering the article is about how the guy responsible for the entirety of the franchise's popularity died. Seriously, who the hell does that?
InstigatorGIRL - 7/17/2010, 3:53 PM
LMAO @MTL grif does! He's done it more than once so I don't understand why people still get that upset about it and it's not like nobody here hasn't been disrespectful once or twice. I've done it and I know I've seen you do it and yes we've apologized for it but you're taking this rather more personally than you should.
thwip - 7/17/2010, 4:14 PM
speed racer is one of my favorite movies. the CARTOON was substandard and shitty and campy! that's why it was so GREAT!! and the fact that the movie kept those same elements is what made it so great.
Ven0m - 7/17/2010, 4:21 PM
Grif is Grif ... At first I wasnt use to this but now I see the Grif way. Also Speed Racer did suck. Sorry and p.s. RIP
DDD - 7/17/2010, 4:29 PM
RIP Mr. Fernandez!

The cartoon was crappy cool!
I liked it!

The movie was just crappy!
That has no bearing on
Mr. Fernandez and his passing.
He had nothing to do with
the crap movie!
RorMachine - 7/17/2010, 4:51 PM
I didn't like the movie, but the cartoon was cool.

R.I.P
jshark - 7/17/2010, 6:06 PM
It was a crap movie, but you know it was still fun to watch. I used to watch the cartoon many moons ago and even though things made me scream WTF! it was still a visually stunning film that was entertaning while poor. Sometimes it's nice to turn your brain off for a movie.
RorMachine - 7/17/2010, 7:12 PM
I can't turn my brain off unfortunately, just never mastered the talent:)
InstigatorGIRL - 7/17/2010, 7:18 PM
LOL @Ror Same here.
Phinehas - 7/17/2010, 9:46 PM
MTL
Grif merely expressed his feelings about the movie only. Not the franchise, nor the original cartoon. Imo, just the same, you are being the hypocrite by making your first comment on an article about the death of an actor a criticism directed toward another regular user. What concern is it to you? Leave grif alone.

Seriously, MTL, you often remind me of this...person:

wavehunter - 7/18/2010, 12:11 AM
Love the original Speed Racer cartoon (watched it as a kid in the 70's and once in a while will watch all 72 episodes I have on DVD). The 2008 movie didn't do it justice and felt the story and effects (and the Mach 5)were terrible. I was really bummed out with the film. It could have and should have been more in line with the cartoon. Meet Peter Fernandez once at the San Diego Auto show sometime back. Nice man. RIP
JYCowboy - 7/18/2010, 12:52 AM
Thank you Peter for your work on Speed and helping to usher Anima to the western world. As a child in the early 70's, Speed Racer was one of my top 5 heroes. I could always count on "...adventure is waiting just ahead."
Christuffer - 7/18/2010, 3:39 AM
LMFAO RANDOM NEWS

But yeah, sad. Hopefully he knew Christ when he died
:(



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