John Michael Riorden Billsbury
March 2, 1918
|Died||September 20, 2012 (aged 94)|
|Other names||Rye Billsbury|
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor|
(?–2012; his death)
Michael Rye (born John Michael Riorden Billsbury; March 2, 1918 – September 20, 2012) was an American actor and voice 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 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 providing the voice of 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.
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.
- Hands of a Stranger - George Britton
- Two Lost Worlds - Captain Hackett
- The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin - Ace Rocklin (ep. "Pritikin's Predicament")
- Jane Wyman Presents - Fred Jackson (ep. "The Bravado Touch")
- Wagon Train - Hanlon (ep. "The Liam Fitzmorgan Story")
- M Squad - Carlson (ep. "The Crush Out")
- Perry Mason - Commentator (ep. "The Story of the Laughing Lady")
- Mr. Terrific - The President (ep. "I Can't Fly")
- Mission: Impossible - Agent Belson (ep. "The Traitor")
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo - Skippy Johnson, Arnie Barney
- The All-New Super Friends Hour - Apache Chief, Green Lantern
- Battle of the Planets - President Kane, Additional Voices
- Challenge of the Super Friends - Apache Chief, Green Lantern
- Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears - Duke Igthorn, King Gregor, Sir Gawain
- DuckTales - Narrator (for the recap sequences in the serialized versions of Time is Money and Super Ducktales)
- Hot Wheels - Jack "Rabbit" Wheeler
- Skyhawks - Captain Mike Wilson
- Mighty Man and Yukk - Main Title Narrator
- Pink Panther and Sons - Additional Voices
- Scooby and Scrappy-Doo - Additional Voices
- Shirt Tales - Additional Voices
- Snorks - Additional Voices
- Spider-Man - Mysterio
- Spider-Man - Farley Stillwell
- Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends - Magneto
- Super Friends - Apache Chief, Green Lantern
- Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show - Apache Chief, Green Lantern
- The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo - Demondo, Zimbulu, Reflector Specter
- The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda - Additional Voices
- The All-New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show - Additional Voices
- The Dukes - Additional Voices
- The Flintstone Kids - Mr. Slaghoople
- The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible - Narrator
- The Godzilla Power Hour - Additional Voices
- The Incredible Hulk - The Supreme Hydra/Steve Perry, Jasper Bryn
- The Lone Ranger - Lone Ranger
- The Mork & Mindy / Laverne & Shirley / Fonz Hour - Additional Voices
- The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show - Main Title Narrator
- The Real Ghostbusters - Dr. Crowley
- The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour - Additional Voices
- The Smurfs - Additional Voices
- The Super Globetrotters - Narrator
- The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians - Green Lantern
- Yogi's Treasure Hunt - Additional Voices
- Fluppy Dogs - J. J. Wagstaff
- Hugo the Hippo - Grownups
- Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers - Mayor
- Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears - Ranger Jones
Information Film Narrator
- Various Productions for Aerojet-General Corporation Sacramento
- Various Productions for Air Force Space & Missile Systems Center
- Announcer on The Cisco Kid (1943–1945)
- Jack Armstrong on Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy (1944–1946)
- The Narrator on Mystery House (1944–1946)
- Announcer on Joyce Jordan, M.D. (1944–1947)
- Mr. First Nighter on The First Nighter Program (1945–1954)
- Gary Curtis on Ma Perkins (1945–1959)
- Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge on Guiding Light (1947–49, replacing Arthur Peterson, Jr.)
- Mark Dillon in the first Gunsmoke audition show (1949)
- Several roles on Backstage Wife (1940s)
- Hank Stafford on Granby's Green Acres (1950)
- Johnny Booth Jr. on Meet Millie (1951–1954)
- Several roles on Dangerous Assignment (1953)
- Several roles on Lux Radio Theater (1950s)
- Announcer on The Horizons West Show (1965–1966)
- "Michael Rye Obituary: View Michael Rye's Obituary by Los Angeles Times". legacy.com. Retrieved 2014-10-24.
- "Voiceover actor Michael Rye dies at 94, Bridged the generations from radio to videogame work". Variety. 2012-09-25. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- Minovitz, Ethan (September 25, 2012). "Michael Rye, 94, was Cartoondom's Lone Ranger". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- Murrey, C.J. (2002). Benjamin Franklin: Biographical Overview and Bibliography. Nova Science Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 9781590333846. Retrieved 2014-10-24.