Not long ago, I reported on the passing of Drew Henley, the actor who played grizzled veteran Red Leader in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Unfortunately, we now have to say goodbye to another Star Wars legend. Erik Bauersfeld, the actor who voiced Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, is no longer with us.
Erik Bauersfeld did both the voice of Admiral Ackbar, as well as Jabba’s trusted henchman, Bib Fortuna. Though, like many other Star Wars Characters, the person who was in the costume was generally not the person who did the voice.
Interestingly enough, he wasn’t initially credited with either performance. This has now since been corrected in different editions of the film. As knowledge of his involvement spread, he started making appearances at various ‘cons and fan shows. At the conventions, Mr. Bauersfeld was known as being a fun loving, friendly, and gentle man.
At this point, do I really need to go into the character? Everyone knows Admiral Ackbar. Even as a youngster, I had a firm attachment to the character. Despite his short screen time, he developed a cult following. He’s appeared in countless spin-offs: games, books, comics, even spoofs.
As when Drew Henley passed, I feel an odd mix of emotions. I never took the time to know this man. I’m not going to lie, I heard his name once of twice, but never again until I found out he had passed. As I learned more about the man, I was hit with a wave of regret. As a kid, (and adult, even) few characters made me smile like Ackbar did.
I used to imagine teams of Rebel commandos rescuing him from peril, or epic battles between his cruiser, Home One, and a Star Destroyer. Silly enough, I even dreamed up a scenario during the final battle of Return of the Jedi. Short on Rebel pilots and desperate to keep the fight going, Ackbar would send his men into X-Wings. However, because of their slimy hands, they would short out the controls and and immediately crash or explode. Ackbar even gave me the illusion of appearing intelligent; knowing the words “magnitude” and “Calamari” before I my 7th birthday really impressed a lot of teachers and grandparents.
I have a feeling Mr. Bauersfeld would have enjoyed those stories, knowing he was the man who helped Ackbar come to life. I regret not being able to share that with him. I’m sure lots of other kids who never grew up have similar stories.
Thank you Mr. Bauersfeld. I’m really glad you reprised your role for The Force Awakens and I hope you know that you made a lot of people, very happy. Also, I’m not going to make you say it. You know….”the” line. =) Speaking of, you should check out this comic.
Here is Ackbar’s Wookieepedia entry.