Like many voice actors, you may not know what Tom Kane looks like — but Star Wars fans will probably know his voice. Across his three decades of work, he has given voice to Yoda, Admiral Ackbar, Qui-Gon Jinn, C-3PO, Magneto, Professor Utonium, and Darwin, the chimpanzee from The Wild Thornberries. Yoda is easily his most-reprised role, so if you’ve ever played a Star Wars video game, from The Clone Wars to The Skywalker Saga, you’ll have heard him.
Sadly, following a serious stroke at the end of 2020, Tom Kane has been “forced into early retirement” at the age of 59, according to his daughter, Sam, who posted a statement on Facebook.
“The damage to his speech center is just too severe. He cannot read well nor get out the words he wants, which is sort of required for voice acting.
He has what’s called Apraxia which means he has difficulty moving smoothly from one sound, syllable or word to another. Groping movements like with his jaw, lips or tongue to make the correct movement for speech sounds are impaired.
Essentially he knows exactly what he wants to say, he knows exactly what’s going on, but the words are trapped in his head, and when they do come out, it’s usually too slurred to understand. He has a handful of words he says perfectly, but just a handful. He relies on all forms of non verbal communication now. Thank god he’s an actor and great at charades!”
Kane’s voice work goes far beyond the Star Wars universe, too. Maybe you’ve played Grim Fandango, The Curse of Monkey Island, or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, or LEGO Indiana Jones, where he played the whip-cracking archeologist himself. He also played Gandalf and Dumbledore in LEGO Dimensions, which confirms our theory that it’s the same old guy wizard.
Fun fact: Kane is also the voice for the Walt Disney World monorail, so if you don’t currently own one of the many games, TV shows, and movies that he’s lent his voice to, you can always go to Disney World to appreciate his dulcet tones.
“I have SO much more to say about this like how many people miss having conversations with him,” says his daughter in the statement, “especially his children and wife. How f****d up it is that in a split second one of the most talented voice actors ever lost his voice and career.”
We wish Tom Kane and his family the best of health and happiness.
Which of Tom Kane’s many roles will you remember him for the most? Let us know in the comments below.