Billie Mae Richards, voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, dies at 88

Billie Mae Richards, 88, the voice actress who played the title character in the 1964 animated TV classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, died Sept. 10 of stroke in Burlington, Canada, according to Variety. The Toronto actress started her career in theater at a young age and switched to radio and voiceover work upon discovering her knack for imitating the voice of a boy. Richards was in her early 40s when she voiced Rudolph in the stop-motion animated special, which has since become the longest-running Christmas TV special and a holiday tradition for many families. “I’m just so glad that my kids, my grandkids, my great-grandkids, and probably my great-great-grandkids will see Rudolph,” Richards said in a 2005 interview for Filmfax magazine. Richards is survived by four children and 12 grandchildren.

Comments (9 total) Add your comment
  • Katja

    Christmas is just not Christmas without this movie. Thanks, Ms. Richards, and, if I may… I think you’re cuuuuute! May you rest in peace knowing that you made such a wonderful contribution to the childhoods of so many.

  • tracy bluth

    RIP. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories.

  • Andrew

    This news saddens me just as much as when Ilene Woods, the actress who voiced Cinderella passed away in July.

  • GetReal

    God Bless. You have been loved.

  • Matt

    She’ll go down in his-tor-y!

  • JLC

    Rudolph was voiced by a woman?!? Next you’re going to tell me that Bart Simpson and Rocky the Flying Squirrel were, too!
    RIP Ms. Richards (BTW, Hermey the Elf was voiced by Paul Soles, the same guy that did Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 1960s series.)

  • MiaS

    Sad day. Rudolph will always be the best Christmas special. I have lost count on how many times I have said “Ready, Santa!” like Rudolph.

  • milkdud

    hey JLC, bart was voiuced by a woman!!!

    DUH!!!!!!!!!!!

  • milkdud

    RIP Ms. Richard’s, such a beloved character!

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