Tuesday, January 24, 2012
R.I.P. Dick Tufeld
You might know him as the voice of the robot in LOST IN SPACE. No one ever made more money saying, “Danger! Danger!”
He was a longtime friend of the family. Only once did I impose upon his talent. Back in college a friend and I tried to put together a syndicated radio series – one hour profiles of singing stars. Forget that we had no idea how to market or distribute these. But we put together a demo. I wrote the script. We needed someone to voice it. This was a program we had hoped to sell to major stations of the day like KMPC Los Angeles and WNEW New York. We couldn’t just grab some skeesix who worked at Shakey’s and whose sum total of broadcast experience was, “Number twelve, your pizza’s ready!”
So I called Dick. Asked if he’d do it as a favor. We had no money to offer but promised him a partnership. Even at the time he had to know he his chances of making a dime were the same as being hit by a meteor. But he agreed to do it anyway.
I booked a session in a recording studio, Dick arrived (on time), scanned the script, said “Okay, let’s try one.” For the next two hours he voiced the copy. And not only was he effortlessly magnificent, he could not have been more professional. He would ask if we wanted something a different way. He would do multiple takes until he was satisfied. Did we have any notes? As if some 19 year-old pisher is going to tell Dick Tufeld how to read a line.
Trust me, a lot of big time voice-over guys would have blown in, said, rushed through the script in one take, and split before the engineer could hit the “stop” button on the tape recorder. Not Dick. He treated this and us as if it were the General Motors campaign.
The project went nowhere. But years later when I was doing BIG WAVE DAVE’S we needed a voice-over for one line. I called Dick. He did it. It took two minutes, and we paid him a thousand dollars. I told him it was the profits on syndicated show. Watch out for meteors.
In a very transient business he worked for over half a century. Why? Because he was the best at what he did, and equally important over time -- he was the best person at what he did.
The only thing more beautiful than his voice was the man himself. I will miss him. The next time God needs an introduction it will be Dick Tufeld Speaking.