Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The End of an Era

It is with the heaviest of hearts that we, the children of Robert O. Smith--original Bench Bozo, "Masked Avocado", Dr. Zingrr, Walter Wart the Freaky Frog, lifting legend and so much more--announce his untimely passing at the age of 67 from pancreatic and liver cancer. Unlike Ronnie James Dio, he was NOT--to the best of our knowledge--eaten by a dragon, but surely there was some strange "disturbance in the force" or cosmic kryptonite that finally brought down our very own superhero of a father.

His wishes were simple--no public memorial, no digital gold-plated turbo-casket with fine cordovan leather interior and motion-activated whirling Mercedes-Benz hood ornament. He requested cremation and a celebration of life among his closest friends.

If you would honor him, keep on doing what you do--bench with the best of your ability and passion, striving ever toward bigger and better lifts, or create art and sound, inspired by his memory. We will keep that memory alive and continue to update Bench Bozo and All Hail Thorndike Pickledish, sharing images and his original drawings from a lifetime dedicated to lifting and creativity. Our thanks to all who knew, loved, and shared that dedication with him. We will love and miss him always.

-Justine Wintersmith and Zach Monroe

35 comments:

Burl Barer said...

I was stunned and heartbroken to read this. I first met Robt O. the day he came to KJR, Seattle. We worked together many times over the years, and I valued his friendship.

My deepest sympathies.

Burl Barer

Jaynie Jones said...

There's no way to put into words what Robert O. meant to us. His talent was phenomenal, truly other-worldly. I'm so sorry that he is gone. The world has lost a tremendous talent, truly one of a kind.

Jaynie Dillon Jones

DJ said...

-Justine/Zach:

Can it be now told what his middle
name initial of 'O' actually was?

Robert was wacky, wacked out,
and way creative; we will miss him

Steve said...

So sad and shocked to hear of Roberts' passing. He was one of the funniest, most creative people I ever had the pleasure of working with.

My favorite Robert O moment?

On KJR the time he decided to tag a coke commercial. The commercial ended with an announcer saying "Marvin Gaye drinks Coke after Coke after Coke.". Robert added "and gets. cavity, after cavity, after cavity."

Coke was pissed. I still laugh about that.

Jaynie Jones said...

I loved him for his directness, bluntness, truthfulness. Sometimes when we'd talk he'd say, "Well, I don't feel like entertaining you anymore now, so I'm going to hang up." And he did. I loved that. It was an example that I followed with callers, as well. Just be direct and to the point. He was amazing.

Thorndike Pickledish said...

Thanks to all for your condolences. Dad was a truly amazing man and will live on in our hearts forever. We are trying to find a gallery that would be willing to hold a showing of his work. If we are successful, we will post details here.

@DJ, re: "the big "O": If anybody remembers the old Bugs Bunny cartoon of Hansel and Gretel where the running gag line is "Hansel? HANsel. HanSEL?!", they perhaps might understand the reasoning behind dad's keeping his middle name a secret. To this day I have never heard of anyone else with the same name (although it was a family name, apparently), and just discovered that my own half-brother--Robert O's son--didn't even know it until yesterday.

I'll mull over whether to ruin the mystique and will get back to you. In the meantime I will put it to the readers--what do YOU think Robert's "O" should stand for?

-Justine

Ruthita said...

I think it should stand for Obadiah -- the real name of Sky Masterson from Guys and Dolls!

I last heard from roboman, as I usually called him, three weeks ago, a short e-mail response to a funny message I had sent him. We've been e-mail buddies for a couple or three years, after I discovered him online and sent him a note to thank him for 40+ years of Walter Wart, and to tell him my favorite parts of the song.

He was pleased. And he was pleased that I sang parts of it to my mom, who had Alzheimer's, and who always giggled at the "peaches and cream complexion -- wet and fuzzy" line.

Though we never met in person, he was a good friend -- one who wrote kind words when I was freaking out about mom, and after my mom passed. I will miss those sincere notes, and the witty exchanges, and the just plain silliness.

He's swimming in a different punchbowl now. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I can only begin to imagine your sense of loss.

norberg said...

My deep sympathy to Robert O's family. I first met him at KMBY in Monterey, when I was getting my start in the biz as a part-timer and he was the morning man, who had developed an on-air imaginary sidekick called Walter Wart, the Freaky Frog.

I recall watching him in the process of recording the many overdubs of himself and his bongo drum to create his novelty recording WALTER WART THE FREAKY FROG, going back and forth between two Ampex 600 machines in the KMBY production room -- first to make a cart of the performance to play on his morning show on KMBY, then to release in the Monterey Bay Area on a 45 on his own Absurd label.

It was then released by Leo Kulka at Golden State Recorders (where it was pressed on Absurd) regionally on the Golden State label, and then finally, after Leo tried to place it on a label -- nearly accepted on A&M -- on the MTA label out of Minneapolis (only other recognized act on the label was the Tijuana Brass wannabees "King Richard and his Flugel Knights").

WALTER WART made "Bubbling Under" in Billboard's Hot 100, based on sales in Seattle (KJR) and Minneapolis -- and Pat O'Day called him at KMBY to offer him a job at LJR based on this hit record he was playing!

Robert O. worked there and elsewhere in Seattle, and at KTAC in Tacoma, before finally moving to Canada and living and working in Vancouver a number of years ago.

In 1965, Robert O had this KMBY part-timer tag along as he went to a rock concert (with psychedelics swirling on a screen behind the stage) to preform WALTER WART live on stage with his bongo drum!

Every station I've ever worked since, while BMI logging was still taking place -- including my last radio gig, KPNW in Eugene two decades ago -- I found a way to play the recording at least once to get him a royalty or two. Plus, it was really clever and funny, and worth hearing. I have it on all three labels. It was one of Dr. Demento's favorites.

Eric Norberg,
editor,
The Adult Contemporary Music Research Letter
Portland, Oregon

Jaynie Jones said...

Olaf? Not the traditional Scandinavian pronunciation; instead, a phonetic one: o-LAF (oh, laugh!) That would seem appropriate for Robert O.

Jaynie Dillon Jones

GML Tech Support said...

We just found out what the 'O' was in his name, but we're still sworn to secrecy...

..rest assured, it wasn't 'ORVILLE'

radioguy said...

Bob was a longtime friend from both the broadcast industry and the gym. I spoke with him a little over 2 weeks ago about an upcoming project. It was then that he told me about his diagnosis and that it may affect his longterm availability. That was Bob -- always thinking of others. It's going to be a duller world without him in it. My sincerest condolences to his family.
You're already missed!
Stone Phillips
(Doug J. Philip)

Eugene Costa said...

Genius, honesty,raging comedy. Give my regards to Messieurs Aristophanes, Petronius, and Rabelais, and say hello to Lenny and George. The Wereowl lives! A bientot, Roberto--the laughs have just begun.

stoneboatq said...

Mr. RoBo...
In the 2200 years we knew each other, (which seems like a mere decade or so...), we shared perversity of verbiage, dislike of the stupid, and an appreciation of the sociological detritus that makes existence worthwhile...
Say 'wothehell!!!' to Tex Avery, Basil Wolverton, Ed Wood, and the other luminaries who just got a GEM of a new compadre in their already exalted company...

Miss you big time, Bud!
Michael 'Stonecutter' Lapierre

Glen Livingstone said...

It's been just over a week now and I've finally been able to wrap my head around the fact that my friend is gone.

What can I say about Robert O. Smith?

He was the hipster saint who loved to paint, draw cartoons or just plain doodle, Daddy!

He was an actor, reactor, a man of a thousand voices and multiple choices.

He lifted weights, lifted spirits, and dared to be himself; the jovial rotund peg in a square, square hole.

For many years he toiled in the radio trenches, spinning the platters that mattered on a dozen radio stations in the U.S. and Canada.

And just for kicks, he cut a few of his own, Jack. Platters, I mean.

"Ballad of Walter Wart (Brrriggett)" Bob's biggest "hit" and a favorite of the great Dr. Demento who spun it often over the years on his syndicated radio show.

And let's not forget "Lonely Bull(Frog)," "Sleepy Stonewell's Brotherhood Boogie," "Sinister Lunchmeat" and "Lenny Frog."

Yeah, "Lenny Frog," AKA Lenny Bruce, one of Bob's heroes:

"Who, killed Lenny Frog, who kicked him and beat him and treat him like a dog?" That's what Bob wanted to know. Lenny, who paved the way for all who came after him and paid dearly for the privilege.

Some of Robo's other comedic influences were Jonathan Winters, Lord Buckley, Ernie Kovacs and Spike Jones. Ya dig? Bob did.

Rubbertoe was a damn fine disc jockey; smart and funny with a talent for mimicry. His Rod Serling out-Serlinged the man himself.

But Bob soon learned as he criss-crossed the radio airwaves from city to city, that inevitably, the suits who ran the radio stations would begin to grumble.

"As soon as I got here they said, 'Ahhh, you didn't sound that animated down there. Could you be kinda calmer? Just don't be so far out, please.' I said 'You want me to be like the guy you just got rid of?' 'Well, kinda.'"

Yep, oftentimes, Bob was a little too hip for the room.

The Control Room that is.

This re-worked quote by Hunter S. Thompson sums it up rather neatly:

"The radio business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."

"Yeah," as a famous Televisionary once avowed, "That's the ticket."

Robert O. loved playing with words. Like a mad scientist stirring a steaming cauldron of alphabet soup, Bob's fractured take on the English language was legendary.

"Voice at Large," trumpeted (or should that read "bongoed?") his business card.

Memories of time spent with Bob keep popping into my head like some kind of a whack-a-molean tableau on overdrive.

Like the time in the early '70's when a friend and I took the bus from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle and phoned Bob, living in Des Moines at the time (halfway between Tacoma and Seattle), who had promised to come fetch us.

"It's gonna take me a little longer than expected to get there," said Mr. Smith. "Something's wrong with the transmission on the car so I'm gonna have to drive into Seattle in reverse."

Or the time when he took me to a place called the Java Jive for lunch. The joint was in the shape of a giant coffee pot, and the stools at the front counter were covered in a faux leopardskin.

Bob circled the place for fifteen minutes before parking. He was worried that I would start laughing once we got inside and not be able to stop.

Pretty fine memories from a great friend.

I was fortunate enough to breath the rarified air of the Robert Ozone for over thirty years.

But sadly, after 67 years of bouncing around God's Golfball, it was time for Bob to exit the funhouse.

I'll never forget him.

Craig "Voiceroy" Crumpton said...

Very sorry to hear this. My heart goes out to Robert's family and friends.

I first contacted Robert in 1999 when he submitted his site for a web directory listing I was listed as editor for. For the next two years, we shared some back-and-forth emails about his work and powerlifting. He seemed like a really great guy and I wish I'd had the chance to meet him in person. And in hindsight, I wish very much that I had asked to do a phone interview with him.

To his family -- if there are any home video clips or bits from his radio days or perhaps an archive interview he did, I do hope you'll share them via this blog or YouTube.

Julia Livingstone said...

I remember the day I first met Robert O. like it was yesterday, although it was nearly 30 years ago.

Although I wasn't a radio person, and, going to school up in Vancouver, hadn't heard Bob on the radio, I had heard about him, from my new boyfriend Glen, who had known him since the late 1960s ... Glen called him Bob. I didn't know anyone was allowed to do that , but Glen called him Bob, so I did, too.

Some of the stories about Bob were hilarious ... and then ... I heard
Roberto, as I instantly nicknamed him, in the flesh ! ... well, heard him on the phone ... in a 'performance for one' in a few phone calls ... He had 'the voice' ... and was brilliantly witty ...

But my new boyfriend, and all his friends, were a bit older than me ... not so's you'd notice at this age, but in one's early 20s that seemed like quite a gulf ... and Robert O. was the elder statesmen of them ... so ... I felt a bit shy ... me ! ... to meet him ...


Part One ...

Next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

Down we went to Seattle, where we were staying for a few days' vacation ... as new boyfriends and girlfriends do ... I had known Glen since 1978, and spent a lot of time with him, but just as a friend of a friend, so now that we were officially going out with each other, I was having the pleasure of getting to know his friends ... and Bob loomed large ... as he did in everything, throughout his life ...

What would this star be like ? ...

Well ... he was absolutely delightful ... We spent days together ... him and one of his girl friends, and me and Glen ... driving around in his classic car, the antique Jaguar with the right-hand drive ... going to the park, wandering through the trees ... early morning bagels and late evening demi-tasse coffees ... going for a walk for ice cream ... out for a drive ... down to the waterfront, out for dinner later ... back to his place for wine and music and more wine and more music ... always music ... and laughter, always laughter ...

And, in one of those trips to the park ... before the wine ... he said those immortal words to me " Baby, you can drive my car " ... Glen was shocked ! ... The classic Jag ! ... He'd never let anyone drive that ... and I'd never driven right-hand drive ... but off we went ... up through the winding wooded hillside park ... me at the wheel, Robert O. riding
shotgun, making jokes and making me so at ease so I wouldn't notice that he wasn't, LoL ... I've never driven right-hand drive since driving his car, and would never care to again, but he made it seem so easy ... Later, after I'd been around him a few times, I said something which I thought was funny ... and was totally disconcerted when he laughed aloud, then stopped in his tracks and started at me quite seriously. Oh, no ... had I offended him ? ... Did he think I was stupid ? ... Nope ... "I'm a student of comedy " he said to me very seriously, "and you're very funny". He loved my Emily Litella (sp) ... and I loved to make him laugh.


Part Two...

next part follows

Julia Livingstone said...

We saw him again in Seattle a few times, every time we went to town for the weekend, and then ... joy of all joys ... he was coming to Canada ! ... We were in Vancouver, and so was Robert O ! ... and coming to work at the same radio station where Glen worked !

What fun ... He arrived in town with his young wife, and he and she, and their beautiful baby boy spent many an evening at our place ... and we at theirs ... Glen had the pleasure of working with him during the day ... and we all went out night after night ... Dining ... drinking ... dancing ... to movies ... to their place for dinner ... to our place to hear the latest records ... it was the early 80s, they were still making records ... back to theirs to hear some classic rock ... out to clubs to hear bands ... down to the art gallery, and up to the top of Grouse Mountain ... to Stanley Park for walks on the sea wall ... and many many times to a cozy little Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood ...

We lived about an hour away from each other, and they'd come out to our place, and we'd all go to this place, kick off our shoes and settle down at one of those little tables in one of those little rooms with the sliding rice-paper doors, and for the next three hours gales of laughter would emanate from that room ... with Robert O. rocking the house with his laugh ... Many a time I held the baby so his Mom could pick up her chopsticks and eat, and that little one never slept, he just looked at all the paper lanterns swaying overhead, and smiled at the pretty girls in their fancy kimonos, and could not take his eyes off his Dad ... was just
fascinated listening to him talk ...


Part Three ...

next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

Later, after life events beyond his control and a painful separation from his son, not of his making, Bob was in another place ... quite literally, having moved in with a girlfriend whom we knew ... and many an evening was
spent with them, I can still see that big comfortable living room with all Bob's records and his stereo playing, and the trees swaying outside the window.

Glen and I got married, and Robert O. was furious to have to work the day of our reception. But he made up for it, by taking us out the day after our honeymoon. And he was there to celebrate our first anniversary with us, he booked the night of that party off a long time in advance.

When troubles sometimes came to Robert O's life, he'd sometimes turn up at our house, sometimes late, one night, I remember, very late, in the middle of winter, in a driving storm, he was just there on the doorstep, he had to get out of the house for awhile ... He sometimes called us " Mom and Dad " ... and we were honored to be his friends, his refuge, his temporary distraction ... whatever he needed ... He felt bad one time, and said he felt like he'd been 'needy', and we laughed, and told him he was no needier than anyone else ... he just had the gift of giving you the real him, and not hiding anything when things were bothering him, and that it was our privilige to be a shelter from the storm, anytime ... And we meant that ... I wish he'd turn up on our doorstep one more time ... I
wish I could have one of those big comfortable bear hugs once again, and listen to Glen laugh him out of his pain.


Part Four ...

next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

Other times were just joyous ...simple stuff ... kid stuff even ... I remember a houseful of people at our place, and Robert O. and my dad carving Halloween pumpkins ... Bob was complimentary of my design that I had come up with myself and used year after year, and watched my dad carving it, and was making cracks the whole time, making us all laugh ... The next year, he was inspired to enter a contest for local celeb carvers, and came up with his own design, incoporating one of his comic legend inspirations, and showing his artistic talent and his wit all at the same time. When you saw his Jack-o-Lantern, on display in the lobby of the big hotel downtown, it just jumped out from the crowd. This was in the day before there was any such thing as patterns or carving kits or any of that wussy stuff ... You had to just take the courage of your convictions, sketch out a face with a borrowed eyebrow pencil, and then have at it with a butcher knife in them days, kids ...

And Bob sure did have at it ... with his usual perfectionistic joy and gusto ... When we first walked up to it, the face was unmistakable ! ... and just in case you didn't get the point, there was a big cigar hanging out the side of the mouth, and a great old brwon felt slouch hat on top ... ( Where did he get that hat in those days before the Value Village ! We found out later he'd scoured every thrift and second-hand store in town ) ... but right at that first sight, the surprise was such a delight, we couldn't believe our eyes ... Was it ... could it be ... Yes ! ... ... It was W.C. Pumpkin Fields ! ... Perfect ! ... and perfectly Robert O. Oh, did we laugh. I can still see that today, I think it made the local papers, but maybe I'm just imagining that in my mind's eye.


Part Five ...

next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

Over the years, we loved Robert O. through different radio stations, and a platoon of girlfriends ... and, although he could surprise and delight you with a new piece of artwork, or a new performance, or a new powerlifting record, personally, he was always the same, always ... He had a continuity about him, and about his life, that transcended the mundane, and made him larger than life, but very real, at the same time.

We met his lovely daughter again, later, when she was an all grown up young lady ... and went out with the two of them to dinner and to see a band one time when she was in Vancouver ... I remember that as one of the quietest evenings we'd ever spent with Bob ... he was in Dad mode ... and was a perfect gentleman, and very sweet to see him with her.

He really got into the powerlifting in a serious way, and moved more into that area of his life over the years ... It had been his first love, and it would be his last ... It was always a pleasure to talk to him on the phone, and hear about his latest powerlifting coup ... he was so
enthusiastic about it ... Can you imagine anyone describing a powerlifting meet so that someone who didn't know the first thing about it would feel like they were there? Bob did that ! ... and so good at it, you could listen to him for hours ...

And you could hear him at all hours ... on the radio, on the television, on one of the shows he did voicework for ... check the IMDB site, the list is there ... but it doesn't even tell a fraction ... the whole story of
his talents may never be told.

For many years, Glen put together Bob's demo tapes that he'd have to
update from time to time. His voice work was so excellent, that it was difficult to determine sometimes that it was him. Not just his 'voices' ... Humphrey Bogart and the like, which were truly superb ... but his 'regular reads' were so versatile, that you could hear three of his spots back to back and never know it was the same guy.

In fact, there were a couple of times he brought a bunch of clips of things, and Glen found there were not only some missing, but that there was sometimes one in there that wasn't even him ! ... Robert O. used to bring assorted clips to Glen, and ask him " Is this me ? " ... He'd laugh and say "Glen is the only person in the world who can spot my voice in the crowd". I wish we had more of those demo tapes today. Just listening to him tell about the specials at Speedy Lube, or London Drugs, was a treat.
If you ever mentioned London Drugs to him, he'd immediately launch into his Tampax commercial ... which didn't ever happen in real life ... but which he used for his very polite and cheerful comic 'demo' ... only he'd make it more and more outlandish ... and more hilarious ... as the years went on ... and do it all in his straight read or in his Gary Owens voice which made it all the funnier ...

Well, trying to describe ... in writing ... what anyone sounds like, is difficult, at best ... but to describe a comic genius with a fabulous voice like Bob was ... well, that is impossible. And, as you can see, I can't write near as well as my better half, so I won't even try.

Part Six ...

next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

What I will say is that, near the end, when Robert O. knew it was the end, we had some serious conversation, and some tears, and some love that had always been there expressed in no uncertain terms. That was his gift, to be 'out there' and to be Bob.

That love was later expressed by both of us to both of his children when they were in Vancouver, both on the phone, by emails, and in person, with Glen helping them out with a few things ... such little bit of help as you can give when some so young have lost someone so wonderful ...

Robert O's daughter was a constant in his life for so many years, through different cities, countries, radio stations, and relationships, she was a light shining from afar, and he loved her dearly and was, in later years, so proud of his grandaughter, who he used to brag was 'so smart'. His daughter is smart, too, and funny, and a wonderful writer in her own right. Bob was so proud of both his kids.

His son was spoken about so often, and he always knew to the day his age, and what grade he was in, unlike some Dads who trust to wives to keep track of that sort of thing, Bob had it down pat ... although he sometimes didn't like to admit he was paying that close attention ... didn't like to
admit it because he didn't like to talk about the pain of being physically apart from him when he was so young. But sometimes he did talk about it, and hope his son would one day understand and wonder whether he was angry with him, and there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't think about both his kids, with love, and sometimes with longing, for both of them.

It was all there, too, in his things ... the small everyday things we all have to go through when someone we love passes ... Bob had those, too, in amongst his 'star' memorabilia, and trophies, and huge paintings ... he had the little things which were so important to him ... things his children had sent him when they were little, some things other people could have considered a 'throwaway' ... but he kept everything. He kept every card we ever sent him, too, and those that many people sent. But he absolutely treasured things from his kids.


Part Seven ...

Next part follows ...

Julia Livingstone said...

Robert O's son looks just like him ... and sounds so much like him, it is at the same time comforting, and sort of amazing to speak with him ... Robert O. had always thought his son should do radio or voice work, and had tried to encourage him to do that. Maybe he will. He certainly could. And wouldn't it be great fun to hear the voice of Robert O. on the air again !

Robert O. will always live on, not only in his great kids, but to all of us who ever knew him and his larger than life personality and many talents, in comedy, in artwork and cartooning and painting, and in life in general.

He lived, and died, with courage, and gusto, and was blunt and matter-of-fact about the end, just as he'd been in life, albeit mighty frustrated that his lifelong incredibly strong body was letting him down... Still, he said to me, a couple of months before he passed, stone-cold sober and without meds of any kind: " I'm ready to go. There's nothing I want to do that I haven't done. "

Not many of us can say that.

God Bless you and keep you, dearest Robert O. Smith ... you may have been ready to go, but we weren't quite ready to let you go, and we can't quite believe you are gone ... You were, and are, a treasure ... and may the angels enfold you in their wings to comfort you, rock you to sleep without pain, and laugh at your stories and sing along to your songs, until we all meet again.


Love ~ Julia



Part Eight of Eight

Good Night sweet prince

GizaCat said...

I had three painted wooden frogs, named Robert, Walter and Pete. Walter and Robert were named after Robert O Smith and Walter Wart. I would love to share a photo of my frogs with Robert O's friends and family.
I swear the Big One, Walter shed a tear upon hearing the sad news.

Robert O Smith was my favorite of all the Seattle radio personalities from the 1960s and '70s. I met him several time over the years and he gave me some air checks from KTAC. I still have them in a box somewhere.

When Robert O was doing graveyard shift at KVI, I would sometimes have to go to work really early, I actually met up with him for breakfast a couple of mornings.

BTW, I know what the "O" stood for, The dear man actually showed me his dirvers' license once.

Justine and Zach, your dad was a classic, and a great talent. I'd love to send you a photo of Walter and Robert.

Lydia
Snohomish

Julia Livingstone said...

Robert O.'s other blog, Bench Bozo, has some more archived material of his own artwork and postings, and also some other comments posted by more of his friends ... Just in case any haven't seen that part of his blog, it is here

http://www.benchbozo.blogspot.com/

zaitsoff said...

my name is bonnie tymofievch i met your father twenty years ago when he worked at cfmi, i was a night person. found him amazing to talk to.he was there for good times and the bad, whinch iam for ever greatful.i miss him terribly already but know he is happy and not in pain anymore.my owm mother died of cancer in june of 1996 and your father was there for me. so i have no doubt she was there to greet him.god bless you both

Julia Livingstone said...

Robert O. in the News ... AnimeY Online Magazin


TITEL: Englische Stimme von Genma und Kaijinbo gestorben

Der Synchronsprecher Robert O. Smith, dessen Stimme viele Anime-Fans aus "Ranma 1/2" und "InuYasha" bekannt ist, ist heute im Alter von 67 Jahren verstorben. Er starb nach einer langen Erkrankung an Bauchspeichel- und Leberkrebs in seiner Heimatstadt Seattle.
Smith lieh seine Stimme in einer Reihe von englischen Anime-√úbersetzungen. So sprach er in "Ranma 1/2" Genma, den Vater des Hauptcharakters, und Kaijinbo in "InuYasha". Transformer-Fans kennen ihn als Soundwave aus der Animations-Serie "Transformers: Cybertron".


Eine Liste mit weiteren Rollen von Robert O. Smith findet ihr in seinem IMDB-Profil.
Quelle: Anime News Network


http://www.animey.net/news/4437

Julia Livingstone said...

Robert O. in the News, again ...

------------

By Eric Mathison
June 7, 2010
Federal Way News


I've been lucky to be able to write about some of my favorite local media idols by finding a Highline connection. For Pat Cashman, Stan Boreson and Dave Ross, it was their Burien performances with ChoralSounds Northwest. With radio godfather Pat O'Day, it was Schick Shadel Hospital on Ambaum.

For former rock jock Robert O. Smith, the Highline link might be more tenuous, but here goes.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column defending the entertainment value of progressive talk radio. I mentioned that Jim Ward, from Stephanie Miller's morning show, does the funniest impressions since local legend Robert O. Smith.

Imagine my thrill when less than 24 hours after the column hit the Highline Times website, I got an e-mail from Robert O. himself, thanking me.

We e-mailed back and forth about meeting for coffee when he was in town.

I'll never get that honor. Robert O. Smith died last week of pancreatic and liver cancer at age 67. I know from watching Robinson Newspapers colleague Tim St. Clair battle with pancreatic cancer, it is a particularly nasty way to die.

The passing of Robert O. (I can't imagine referring to him as Mr. Smith) comes not long after the deaths of two self-described "old farts," Lan Roberts and Jerry Kay, who greatly entertained us baby boomers on the radio during our formative years.

During my teens and twenties, I followed Robert O. up and down the AM and FM radio dials. I even lost precious weekend sleep time by staying up late to watch him bat-flap through horrid horror movies on Channel 13 as Dr. Zingrr. (It was kind of a pre "Mystery Science Theater" thing.)

I can see my two tech-savvy sons laughing at their old-fart father. But I feel kind of sorry for them. Even with all their great new entertainment devices, they don't get to hear their music on the radio, enhanced by the talent of the likes of Robert O.

----------
http://www.federalwaynews.net/2010/06/07/opinion/moral-des-moines-water-flap-don%E2%80%99t-kill-messenger

drdemento said...

Very sad to hear the news.

I've been a fan ever since first hearing "Walter Wart" when it was new. In about 1973 I mentioned it in a magazine column and was delighted to get a letter from Robert shortly afterward. I have about a dozen letters from him which I treasure.
Alas, I only met him face to face once, when he came to L.A. on business and we had dinner in a Hollywood restaurant.

I will have a little tribute to him on my internet radio show, with "Walter Wart," of course, and "Sinister Lunchmeat," and during the "bonus tracks" at the end of the show, four more tracks from 45's including "Lenny Frog." That show will be posted June 19 and will be available indefinitely on demand at www.drdemento.com. There is a $2 charge for the complete stream (we have to pay ASCAP and BMI royalties).

Great to read all the memories from Glen, Julia and all Bob's friends.

Eric Baker said...

I am truly sorry to hear this. I wish that I had known about this blog - I would have been a follower. I was a fan of his work for many, many years. He truly brought Genma Saotome to the English speaking world. I wish his family and friends peace after this loss. He shall be missed, but never forgotten.

Bill Dudley said...

I first met Robert O in 1971. I was a crazy long-haired hippie kid from Sacramento. I was looking for work and was directed to the Seattle market by someone who said...."Go up there, they like and hire crazy people like you". While the KOL program director was listening to my air-check, Robert O came by. He recognized the KROY jingle from my tape, and said he used to work there. When I didn't get hired at KOL, Robert O suggested that I try "the new Top 40 station in the market...KTAC." They hired me for mornings at KTAC, which I did for 2 years. When I left to work at KJR.....I was replaced by.............. Robert O. Smith !!! Ironically, later I also worked @ KOL right before they went Country in 1975. Weird story but true. Radio is a very small sub-culture, and Robert O. was a very unique talent within that culture. He will truly be missed. He was one of a kind. I also had record stores for 20 years in Portland, and yes people still remember Walter Wart. Bill Dudley KTWV Los Angeles

Julia Livingstone said...

.......

I hope everyone got a chance to hear the great show Dr. Demento did ...

It was a combination Father's Day and Tribute show ...

A whole bunch of Robert O. Smith songs were heard, along with some chat about him ...

Thanks so much to the good Doc ... his fans and friends and family appreciate it ... and he himself would have been absolutely thrilled to have so much airtime ... and to be in such good company with so much other great stuff ...

If you didn't catch it, don't despair ...
It is still there ... perpetually on air ...
Curl up in your lair ... pull up a chair ...
Pay your 2 beans ( its only fair ) ...
And listen to the good Doctor - anytime, anywhere

Catch the show anytime at your leisure at :

http://www.drdemento.com/

It is just over 2 hours ... the 'just over' being the bonus tracks ; 4 of them are Bob's.


For those who don't know, Robert O. Smith recorded a variety of fun records under a variety of different names, including under the Thordike Pickledish name ... hence the name of his blog here.

He was such a multi-talented man ... albeit with many of his talents 'behind the scenes' ... We read something the other day that made us smile, and summed up just how talented he was ...

There are powerlifting boards ( Robert O. held records for same ... not the kind of records you play, real world-wide records, with trophies and everything ) ...

and radio boards ... including this one at

http://boards.radio-info.com/smf/index.php?topic=169238.0

and voice and 'toon and anime boards ...
where they are all talking about Robert O. Smith ...

On one of the boards, talking about animation, someone posted how sad they were to hear the news ... and someone else posted " Robert O. Smith - I don't know him " ... whereupon someone posted back, and said " Oh yes, you do, he was the voice of " ... and they proceeded to name some of Bob's characters ... and the person answered, "Oh, I do so know him - that was all him !?! "

That really sums up his work ... there are people around the world, in Japan and Europe and across North America and England and Australia, and probably more countries than I know how to spell who have heard his beloved body of work, and 'know' him ... even if they don't necessarily know that they know him !

And you'll hear why, when you hear the Dr. Demento show, showcasing Robert O's records ... Keep in mind that every voice in the Thorndike Pickledish Choir is him !

Dr. Demento puts up a new show every Saturday on his site, but the past ones all stay archived, so you can listen to this one over and over again ... even while you catch his new ones ... All his shows are great, of course ... Of the non-Robert O. stuff on that particular show, the songs on the oil spill are excellent, and, if you haven't heard Tech Support for Dad, you're in for a treat ... whether you can identify with the singer ... or with the tech-challenged dad !

On that show there is also song about Bass Fishing ... at least ... I think it is about bass fishing ... that really made Mr. Livingstone laugh ;-)

Enjoy, everyone.

And thank you so much again, Dr. Demento. Bob loved your shows, and so do we.

.......

Eugene Costa said...

The reminiscences are every one of them moving. And especial thanks to Julia Livingstone and Doctor Demento.

We knew one another from about '98, when I saw his brilliant artwork, which for years I looked at just visually, without the sound.

Roberto was the one who got me interested in animated graphics and 3D both, and we started an informal competition in a program called Amorphium in an online gallery that was hilarious but over the heads of most, except a few people who got what was going on.

He always talked of his daughter. And the fact that we both listened to Doctor Demento got us off on the right foot.

Maestro Roberto and I were in the middle of a short 3D video--"The Man Who Love To Paint Naked Broads" when the bad news came.

It has taken this long to settle down to a video or animated tribute to the visual side of Roberto's work, which was brilliant, and when combined with his voice and character work, beyond brilliant.

Almost every one of his animation could stand alone visually, and some of his earliest ones, like "Wereowl", were revolutionary.

The Maestro was an indefatigable, hilarious, penetrating commenter on on almost every animation on my blog "Burbank's Tomato", and there are several tributes to him there, including for his 3D, which includes an original portrait of him in 3D.

Sponge Freddie said...

In 2006, I began an Internet friendship with Robert, based on my extremely fond memories of his Dr. ZinGRR show on channel 13 in Seattle in the 70's. I've read many of the comments here and the fact that he maintained so many sincere connections with people makes me regret all the more that the last email I traded with him was in December 2009.

I found the news of his passing this morning by seeing the comment from robatsea2009 in Robert's Dr. ZinGRR's channel on YouTube. I was dumbstruck, and hoped it was merely a horrible joke until I saw the Wikipedia page and the post by Justine Wintersmith and Zach Monroe in this blog.

Throughout the many emails we sent each other, Robert would always reply to me within a day, every time. He was forever full of positive insight, encouragement and praise for my endeavors. We were supposed to eventually go to dinner one day in Vancouver when I visited family and friends in Seattle, which I rarely do. I am so regretful and sad that I never found the time to drive up to Vancouver.

Ever since I was 12 years old, I have had nothing but the deepest admiration for Robert's talents and gifts, especially his humor. I still laugh today when I think of various Dr. ZinGRR skits that I somehow have never forgotten. After having the wonderful opportunity to converse with him through email correspondence, I can definitely say that the world is at an incredible loss by his passing.

I wish I hadn't waited so long to reply to his last email. He was absolutely one of a kind, and as I'm sure so many others can also say due to his kindness and thoughtfulness, he was my friend. I will miss him terribly for the rest of my life.

Nicolas Valenzuela

Athena said...

A few years ago I paid Robert 100 Us to record promo's for my home computer. He remembered me from when I used to call him at KVI in the early 70's. I will miss him and I'm glad I hve some of his work with me forever.