William Dufris, a prolific voice actor and audiobook producer best known for his role as the original Bob the Builder character in the popular children’s television show, has died after a battle with cancer.
The actor’s death was announced on Tuesday in a Twitter post from Pocket Universe Productions, a production company he co-founded. The company noted that Dufris died after a battle with cancer, though did not share more details about exactly when he passed away.
Dufris Voiced Original ‘Bob The Builder’ Character
Dufris was the voice of the popular children’s television show character Bob the Builder in both the American and Canadian versions of the show. He was also credited with voicing a number of other characters, including Farmer Pickles, Mr. Beaslet, and Mr. Sabatini.
Dufris was later replaced by comedian Greg Proops but remained close to the character even after leaving the role. The Bangor Daily News reported in 2015 that he paid a visit to third graders in Danforth, Maine, to talk about his part.
Dufris was invited by Sam Hiscoe, a teacher at the school and also his nephew. Hiscoe said that the students enjoyed learning about Dufris’s extensive career and the roles he had played.
“The kids really enjoyed it,” Hiscoe told the newspaper. “Before he read to them, he talked about his career and the TV show, and it was great for them to hear that. A lot of times kids say that they love video games and cartoons, but they don’t really believe that can transition into a career for them.”
Hiscoe said that Dufris also read from the book The Twits by Roald Dahl, creating animated voices for each of the characters that the students loved.
“They were laughing so hard,” Hiscoe said. “They just loved it. They begged him to read more.”
Dufris Had Extensive Acting Credits In Manga And Audio Books
Though he was best known for his role on the children’s program Bob the Builder, Dufris had a number of other voice acting credits spanning decades. As Anime News Network noted, he also did extensive work in anime, including voicing the character Lupin III in a series of features from Manga Entertainment (UK).
“He also voiced Subaru Kimeragi in the English dub of the X anime film,” the report noted. “He voiced numerous other roles for English dubs for such anime as Angel Cop, Patlabor, Appleseed, New Dominion Tank Police, and Venus Wars.”
Dufris was also an accomplished producer and narrator of audiobooks. As the Bangor Daily News reported, he was nominated 10 times as a finalist for the Audio Publishers Association’s prestigious Audie Award and won the award in 2012. He also won 21 Golden Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine, the report added.
Dufris was a co-founder of Pocket Universe Productions, which specialized in audiobooks featuring multiple cast members.
“Pocket Universe Productions creates fully immersive ‘audio movies,’ adapted from science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller prose, as well as from stage plays and graphic novels,” the company noted on its website.