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Voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer dies

LOS ANGELES – Dick Beals, a voice actor best known for injecting youthful enthusiasm into the character of Speedy Alka-Seltzer in mid-20th century television commercials for the pain remedy, has died. He was 85.

Beals, whose radio and television career spanned seven decades, died Tuesday at Vista Gardens Memory Care in Vista, Calif.

“He was one of the great voice actors of all time,” Ron Simon, curator of TV and radio at the Paley Center for Media, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. “He was one of those anonymous people who pioneered what animation would become today.”

Beals’ notable stop-motion animation roles included originating the voice of the title character in the late 1950s in “The Gumby Show.” He was also the voice of the first Davey in the early 1960s for the television series “Davey and Goliath.”

As the result of a glandular condition, Beals stood 4 feet 6 inches tall, weighed less than 70 pounds and possessed a voice that hadn’t changed since grade school.

He was first heard in such shows as “The Lone Ranger” and “The Green Hornet,” which were recorded at a Detroit radio station.

After moving to Hollywood in 1952, Beals was asked to read for the part of Speedy Alka-Seltzer, a slightly goofy, animated sprite who wore an Alka-Seltzer tablet as a hat while another tablet formed his body.

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.


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