Rick May, Voice of Team Fortress 2's Soldier and Star Fox 64's Peppy, Passes Away at 79
"You were good, son. Real good. Maybe even the best."
Actor Rick May, more commonly known to the gaming community as the voice of Soldier in Team Fortress 2 and both Peppy Hare and Andross in Star Fox 64, has died after contracting the coronavirus. He was 79.
The Rekindle School, a Seattle-based arts program where May was a teacher, reported the news of his death. He had been rehabbing in a nursing home after suffering a stroke in February, but caught the COVID-19 virus while there. May was moved to Seattle’s Swedish Hospital in response, where he received care up until he passed.
May had a theatrical career that spanned nearly 50 years, going from an uncredited role in George Lucas’ American Graffiti to two that have become pillars of gaming culture.
The oft-repeated “Do a barrel roll!” line? That all started with him.
Rick May dies at age 79 due to coronavirus
He was best known as the voice of Peppy in ‘Star Fox 64’ with his iconic ‘Do a barrel roll’ line
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) April 13, 2020
Along with his roles in Nintendo’s N64 space shooter and Valve’s evergreen FPS, May has also appeared in Sucker Punch’s Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves as its main villain, Dr. M, and in Ensemble Studios’ Age of Empires II, where he was the narrator and voice of Genghis Khan.
Outside of video games, he appeared in over 300 shows across a variety of genres, and was the long-time artistic director of Renton Civic Theatre and Civic Light Opera in Washington state.
“Rick was a wonderful teacher whose classes and students meant the world to him,” the Rekindle School wrote. “He’ll be deeply missed.”
Larry Albert, a fellow actor who worked alongside May, wrote a touching tribute on Facebook upon learning of his passing, soon after shared by John Patrick Lowrie — Team Fortress 2’s Sniper.
“I met him over thirty years ago and while we weren’t the socializing type of pals we always enjoyed running into each other at a gig or audition. Every recording session with him was always laugh-filled. Yet when the lights went down or the engineer said, “rolling” he was the consummate professional. He worked hard to get it right and we could always depend on him to deliver. In talking with his wife Diana I found out that he loved the sessions, the camaraderie, the give and take during the rehearsals and actual recording. Whenever one of his shows aired he would listen, as do I to mine. However, Rick would listen to the ones he’d had no part in and write to say, “Wasn’t so and so great!” or “Man, that was a fantastic script!” I would always send him a copy of the finished product.
Rick May was a force of nature, a pain in the ass sometimes but never to the point where I would not use him again and again. We were working friends, colleagues and buddies. Hopefully there will be those who will speak of his years in the theater, as a teacher, a director and voice talent, of his one-man show as Teddy Roosevelt. I knew the man who asked me if I could get him a copy of an old Republic Studios serial cliffhanger “The Phantom Rider” if he got me an autograph from his friend Ty Hardin from the old “Bronco” TV series.
I knew the man who along with Frank Buxton and David Selvig stood and applauded my daughter Andee when I introduced her to the audience at the Kirkland Performance Center for what would be her first appearance as a professional actor.
I knew the man who was always encouraging when I had my bout with cancer.
I knew the man whose passing leaves a huge hole in my heart and I believe so many others.”