Monday, June 4, 2012

Dick Beals Dead at 85

Dick Beals, a voice actor best known for injecting youthful enthusiasm into the character of Speedy Alka-Seltzer commercials, has died. He was 85.

Beals, whose radio and television career spanned seven decades, died Tuesday at Vista Gardens Memory Care in Vista, said his friend Peter Gorman.

He was first heard in such shows as THE LONE RANGER and THE GREEN HORNET, which were recorded at a Detroit radio station, and later on DRAGNET and GUNSMOKE.

Beals moved to Hollywood in 1952 where he landed a soap opera gig.

"I came out to Hollywood from Detroit in 1952 and just started knocking on doors, making call after call,” Beals said. He finally landed a part on ONE MAN'S FAMILY, an evening radio soap opera. Intrigued by Beal’s unique voice, the show’s manager mentioned to him one afternoon that Miles Laboratories had just closed auditions for the voice of its new Alka-Seltzer spokesman, an as-yet unnamed animated cherub who could read commercial lines and sing the praises of the firm’s fizzing tonic. The manager still asked him to come in and do a trial commercial one evening. Beals created his own image of Speedy Alka-Seltzer in his mind, recorded what he considered to be the appropriate speaking and singing voice for the commercial and went home. Four months later he was told he had the job, and Speedy was born.

With Beals reciting commercial lines and singing the fizzy tablet's praises, the character was featured in more than 200 commercials that aired from 1954 to 1964. The ad campaign is considered "one of the classics of all time," Simon said.

Commercials became Beals' main source of work, and his vocal talents were featured in more than 3,000 of them, The Times reported in 1992. He was an unseen pitchman for Oscar Mayer, Campbell's Soup, Bob's Big Boy and many others.

"I'm the voice of little babies to 15-year-olds. In cartoons, I have also been the voice of all kinds of animals — parrots, chipmunks, birds, rabbits, you name it," Beals said in 1992.

Between 1955 and 2005, Beals performed in at least 25 television projects. He voiced the sidekicks Yank and Dan in the 1965 animated series ROGER RAMNET and was heard on the soundtrack singing with Gene Kelly in the 1967 NBC television special JACK AND THE BEANSTALK.

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