May 9, 2013
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Blissful Animation Voice Passes
by Karl Cohen
Lucille Bliss, a local animation voice and TV actress who became an international star has died at 96 in Southern California. Lucille Bliss, animation voice and TV actress, as a young woman. photo: courtesy L. Bliss
Lucille was a delightful character actress who lived in San Francisco much of her life and commuted to work in Los Angeles. She started her voice career as Cinderella’s wicked step-sister Anastasia in the Disney feature (1950). Her next major credit was doing the voice of the intrepid adventurer Crusader Rabbit.
A five minute per episode TV cartoon series made locally (1948-51) by Alex Anderson and J Ward, “Crusader Rabbit” produced the first more or less successful animated cartoon star. Alex went into advertising while J ended up producing a show in the late 1950s that was based on an unsold script idea by Alex about a French Canadian moose and a flying squirrel. It became the delightfully cold-war irreverent “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show. (An odd aside: Alex said J’s parents named him “J” but, in the late 1950s, he changed it to Jay.)
Lucille’s career continued, first as the host of a local kids’ birthday show on KRON (1950-57). She later taught voice acting and did lots of voice work locally, but her major roles came from jobs doing voices in LA. She also appeared in a few features in minor roles. One was a bag lady on a San Francisco Muni cable car.
Lucille’s most famous role was Smurfette on the popular 1980s cartoon "The Smurfs". She was also Ms. Bitters on "Invader Zim" (2001–06) and Yugoda in "Avitar: The Last Airbender" (2004). Although not well known, she loved talking about working on the O. G. Readmore shows (television during the 1980).
In the 1990s, she spent a delightful evening telling ASIFA-SF (Association Internationale du Film d'Animation de San Francisco) members about her long career. In 1999 Disney honored her at an event at Disneyland. She was presented a Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award. (Child? She was born in 1918 and recorded her part in 'Cinderella' about 1948).
Bliss never talked about her age and in trade publications in the 1980s and ‘90s she ran a glamorous photo of her that must have been taken when she was in her 30s. ASIFA-Hollywood gave her a Winsor McCay award at their 28th Annual Annie Awards. Locally she has been honored by a professional radio and TV association. Lucille Bliss, animation voice and TV actress, as a young woman. photo: courtesy L. Bliss
It was a pleasure knowing her. My wife and I joined her several times for delightful evenings, often over Italian food in Noe Valley. Thanks to good talent agents, she kept busy almost to the end of her life doing auditions and recording parts. Literally a voice from the origins of animation, she will be missed.
Posted on Dec 03, 2012 - 10:05 PM