Voice of Star Wars' Admiral Ackbar, Erik Bauersfeld, dies at 93
Published 05/04/2016 | 09:06
Voice actor Erik Bauersfeld, who delivered Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar's famous line "It's a trap!", has died aged 93.
The performer died at his home in Berkeley, California, on Sunday.
Bauersfeld voiced two minor roles in 1983's Return Of The Jedi, providing the voice of military leader Admiral Ackbar, as well as Jabba the Hutt's henchman, Bib Fortuna.
He was not given a screen credit in the movie, which was the third in the franchise.
But the Rebellion's Admiral Ackbar, with his distinctive large domed head and fish-like eyes, soon became a fan favourite as he led major combat operations against the Galactic Empire.
His key line, "It's a trap!", became a well-known Star Wars quotation, and he was later transformed into an internet meme.
Bauersfeld returned to Star Wars for 2015's The Force Awakens, reprising the role of Admiral Ackbar alongside original puppeteer Tim Rose.
The voice actor and radio producer, who spent much of his career focusing on his radio work, was bemused by the fame he gained for his minor role - which took him just an hour to film.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2011 that he had not watched Return Of The Jedi since it came out in 1983, and still had not seen the first Star Wars movie.
He said: "The fans who write say they'll never forget 'It's a trap!' I don't even remember how I said it ... It's not that I don't like it or don't respect it - I just don't have time to be a fan and see it 10 times or 20 times."
Bauersfeld said he stumbled into the part when he was at Lucasfilm, working on a radio project with Oscar-winning sound designer Randy Thom, a lifelong friend.
He was asked to read for Admiral Ackbar by the film's sound designer, Ben Burtt.
"I went over, he showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it," Bauersfeld said.
"I saw the face, and I knew what he must sound like."
After recording the part, he spent another half-hour on the part of Bib Fortuna, who speaks the fictional language of Hutt.
Apart from his work on Star Wars, Bauersfeld served as the director of talk radio and music radio station KPFA's drama and literature department for more than three decades.
He oversaw the arts and humanities programming of the California-based station, which broadcasts in the San Francisco Bay Area.
He then left in the mid-1990s to pursue theatre projects with West German Radio, and to launch his Bay Area Radio Drama project.
Susan Stone, of KPFA, wrote on the radio station's website that Bauersfeld died with Thom holding his hand and his long-time friend, poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, reading to him over the phone.
Shortly after the release of The Force Awakens, Bauersfeld revealed how he returned to the role of Admiral Ackbar - at the request of director JJ Abrams.
He told BBC radio show 5 Live: "T hey called me up one morning, and it was JJ. He said he wanted to do an audition, come on over.
"They had a big shiny black car in front of my door, and I was on the plane, and there was the screen, and there was Ackbar.
"Right up on the screen: 'It's a trap!' I don't know if I said that, there were a lot of other lines."
Joking about not having seen all the Star Wars films, he said: "I read my lines, take my money, and go home."