You see to your right two of the best-known cartoon voice actresses around the first decade of the modern era of television (1948 and later). At the left is wonderful June Foray. Sitting in the chair is someone whose career in TV animation actually pre-dates June’s. She’s the original voice of Crusader Rabbit, Lucille Bliss.
The photo is by noted Hanna-Barbera collector Dave Nimitz, a close friend of the two. He’s passed on word that Lucille has died at the age of 96. Facebook friend Doreen Mulman has learned Lucille had pneumonia and a staph infection.
Lucille was working in television children’s programming in San Francisco when Alex Anderson and Jay Ward had an idea to create a cartoon show specifically for TV. Thus Crusader Rabbit was born. Lucille then headed to Los Angeles and found theatrical cartoon voice work for Disney, MGM and Warner Bros. More importantly for this blog, the sound of some Hanna-Barbera cartoons could have been quite different had Lucille been able to keep jobs as Ruff in Ruff and Reddy and Elroy Jetson. But circumstances (and people) worked against her. She told what happened to an interviewer with the Archive of American Television. You can read what she said about Ruff and Reddy here and the Jetsons here.
Lucille later worked on Hanna-Barbera’s Space Kidettes (1966-67), more a curiosity today than anything, and then on shows long past my childhood such as The Smurfs and Invader Zim. She also lent a voice to one of the kids in the Flintstones’ episode “The Good Scout” (1961). To the right, you can see her as drawn by Carlo Vinci (I love Art Lozzi’s backgrounds in this one).
It sounds trite to say that was liked and respected by people in the animation industry but that was the case, as best as I can tell. You can see all of her interview mentioned above HERE and if you want to hear her story about how she didn’t get in on the ground floor at Hanna-Barbera because of some corporate hardball, watch below.