Robert Easton Cause of Death: How the Man of a Thousand Voices Lost His Battle with Cancer

Robert Easton was a legendary actor and dialect coach who worked in Hollywood for more than 60 years. He was known as the “Man of a Thousand Voices” for his ability to master and teach various accents and languages. He died on December 16, 2011, at the age of 81. What was the cause of his death and how did he cope with his illness?

Early Life and Career

Robert Easton was born as Robert Easton Burke on November 23, 1930, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the only child of Mary Easton and John Edward Burke, who divorced when he was seven. He moved to Texas with his mother, a former actress, and developed an interest in regional dialects and speech patterns. He also struggled with a severe stuttering problem, which made him more aware of the nuances of pronunciation and expression.

He began his career as a radio performer at the age of 14, when he joined the cast of the popular Chicago-based quiz show “Quiz Kids”. He toured the country with other child prodigies and landed roles in various radio programs, such as “Gunsmoke”, “Fibber McGee and Molly”, “The Fred Allen Show”, and “Suspense”. He also performed on stage and television, appearing in shows like “The Twilight Zone”, “Star Trek”, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, and “Bonanza”.

He made his film debut in 1949, in the crime thriller “Undertow”. He went on to appear in dozens of films, such as “The Red Badge of Courage”, “The War of the Worlds”, “The Giant Behemoth”, “Paint Your Wagon”, “Working Girl”, and “Primary Colors”. He often played supporting or minor characters, such as soldiers, scientists, reporters, and hillbillies. He also voiced animated characters, such as the narrator of “The Transformers: The Movie”, the King of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland”, and the Caterpillar in “The Return of Jafar”.

Dialect Coaching and Teaching

Robert Easton’s true passion and talent, however, was dialect coaching and teaching. He studied and mastered hundreds of accents and languages, ranging from American regional dialects to foreign languages such as French, German, Russian, Arabic, and Mandarin. He became the most sought-after dialect coach in Hollywood, working with stars like Charlton Heston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Duvall, Anne Hathaway, and Forest Whitaker. He helped them prepare for roles that required them to speak in different accents or languages, such as “The Ten Commandments”, “The Terminator”, “The Godfather Part II”, “The Devil Wears Prada”, and “The Last King of Scotland”.

He also taught at various institutions, such as the University of California, Los Angeles, the American Film Institute, and the British American Drama Academy. He wrote books and articles on dialects and languages, such as “The Standard British English Dialect” and “Accents for the Stage”. He was regarded as an authority and a pioneer in the field of dialectology and phonetics. He was nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Voices” by the media and his peers.

Cancer Diagnosis and Death

Robert Easton was diagnosed with cancer in the late 1990s. He battled various types of cancer, including prostate, colon, and skin cancer. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. He continued to work as a dialect coach and actor until his final days. He completed his last project, working with John Travolta on a film, just a few weeks before his death.

He died on December 16, 2011, at his home in Toluca Lake, California. He was survived by his daughter, Heather Woodruff Perry, and his grandson, Tristan. He was preceded in death by his wife, June Grimstead, who died in 2005. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean.

Robert Easton was a remarkable man who left a lasting legacy in the entertainment industry. He was admired and respected by his colleagues and students for his skill, knowledge, and generosity. He was a master of dialects and languages, a versatile and prolific actor, and a dedicated and inspiring teacher. He will be remembered as the “Man of a Thousand Voices” who enriched the world with his voice.

Doms Desk

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