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Tony Jay, 73; Veteran Voice Actor in Film and Video Games

Obituaries

August 20, 2006|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Tony Jay, a voice actor who was best remembered for playing the elegantly malevolent Judge Frollo in the animated Disney film "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and whose deep baritone frequently heightened the drama in video games, has died. He was 73.

Jay, who was heard in many commercials and cartoons, died Aug. 13 at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles from complications after surgery in April to remove cancer from his lungs, said his wife, Marta MacGeraghty Jay.

The role of Quasimodo's guardian was "a gift," Jay said when the 1996 movie was released. "It's my bid for immortality."

The Times review by Kenneth Turan said the veteran British actor had "perfectly voiced" the part of the evil Frollo who lusted after Esmeralda, a part spoken by Demi Moore.

For at least a decade, Jay had found constant work in video games, often as the villain.

"His voice was pretty tremendous and one of a kind," said Natanya Rose, who worked with Jay on video-game projects for International Creative Management. "Any time you needed that regal, deep, wise presence, he definitely was the person to go to."

Gaming websites buzzed last week with players reminiscing about Jay's roles in such games as "X-Men Legends," "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" and the "Legacy of Kain" series in which he voiced the Elder God.

"Most young people today will easily recognize his voice," Matthew Kowalewski, a gamer who posts comments on www.evilavatar.com, said via e-mail. "A lot of gamers will miss his work because he had a lot of roles in cult favorite series," including "Fallout" and "Legacy of Kain."

Born Feb. 2, 1933, in London, Jay didn't start acting until he was 30 when he moved to South Africa to work in theater, television and radio.

After returning to London, he portrayed Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice" and appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company's "Nicholas Nickleby." He followed "Nickleby" to New York and Los Angeles and decided to move to L.A. in 1986. For years he lived in the Hollywood Hills.

Among his movies are the 1988 comedies "Twins" with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger and "My Stepmother Is An Alien" with Dan Aykroyd and Kim Basinger.

Jay's final film, "Albert Fish," which he narrated, is scheduled to be released this week.

On ABC television, Jay had a recurring role as the evil outcast Paracelcus in "Beauty and the Beast" (1987-90) and was featured in "Twin Peaks" (1990-91) and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (1993-97).

He also made Megabyte in the "ReBoot" TV series and films distinctly evil, according to website postings.

He soon segued mainly into voice acting.

One memorable role was the ruthless Shere Khan in Disney's "Jungle Book"-based "TaleSpin" series, which ran from 1990 to 1994. He played the same part in the 2003 Disney film "The Jungle Book 2."

This year, Jay received a daytime Emmy nomination for his work as Spiderus in the animated "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends" on Nickelodeon.

At Disneyland, his urbane rumble is heard nightly as the Magic Mirror in the production of the Fantasmic! water show that debuted in 1992.

A veteran of hundreds of commercials for radio and TV, Jay was philosophical about the work.

"All actors think commercials are beneath them," he told USA Today in 1996. "Till they find out how much money is involved."

In addition to Marta, whom he married in January 2004, Jay is survived by a son, Adam, 17; his mother, Edith, 99; and a brother, Robert.

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