John Michael Riorden Billsbury
March 2, 1918
|Died||September 20, 2012 (aged 94)|
|Other names||Rye Billsbury|
Michael Rye (born John Michael Riorden Billsbury; March 2, 1918 – September 20, 2012) was an American actor. His decades-long career spanned radio, television, animated cartoons and video games. Aside from his voice over work, Rye also acted in on-screen television roles as well, including parts in Dr. Kildare and 77 Sunset Strip.
He is also credited in TL Osborn's gospel documentaries as the narrator.
Rye was born John Michael Riorden Billsbury in Chicago, Illinois.
He began his career during the Golden Age of Radio when radio programming was at the height of its popularity. Rye, who broadcast from Chicago, participated in an average of forty network radio shows per week.
He was cast in numerous lead roles for radio shows, including Gary Curtis for the NBC soap opera, Ma Perkins; Tim Lawrence on Guiding Light; Jack Armstrong on the radio adventure series, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy; and Pembroke in the soap opera, Backstage Wife.
He starred in radio productions produced and broadcast from Hollywood, including the ABC crime drama, This is Your FBI; the radio anthology series, Lux Radio Theater; the radio drama, The Whistler; the CBS radio comedy, Meet Millie; and the CBS drama, Suspense. He also provided the narration for the world's first full-length recorded book, the 1969 audio adaptation of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
With the advent of television, Rye transitioned from radio to animated shows and on-screen acting roles. In addition to lending his sonorous bass-baritone voice as the Lone Ranger in the 1966–1969 animated cartoon series based on the character, for which he is perhaps best remembered, Rye worked extensively in Hanna-Barbera productions, including the Scooby-Doo series during the 1970s, and later provided voices for Pound Puppies, which aired on ABC's Saturday morning lineup from 1986 to 1989. During this time, he also played Mr. Slaghoople, Wilma's Dad in The Flintstone Kids.
He voiced both Apache Chief and Green Lantern in Hanna-Barbera's Challenge of the Superfriends, The All-New Super Friends Hour, and Super Friends.
He was also cast in Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, which aired from 1985 to 1991, as the voices of King Gregor and his nemesis Duke Igthorn, who is the nemesis of the Gummi Bears as well.
Rye's on-screen television roles included parts on Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, M Squad, 77 Sunset Strip, General Electric Theater, Dr. Kildare, and Wagon Train.
Rye appeared in television and radio commercials until his retirement from advertising in the late 1990s. His career, which began in radio, also spanned the video game era in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Rye narrated thousands of training films, videos and software for industrial and workplace functions.
Rye served as the National President of the Information Film Producers of America (IFPA) in the 1970s for a single two-year term. He was also inducted as an honorary, lifetime member of Sperdvac, the Society to Preserve and Encourage Radio Drama, Variety and Comedy.
Michael Rye died from a short illness on September 20, 2012, in Los Angeles at the age of 94. He was survived by his wife, Patricia Foster Rye.