Bill Cunningham dead – Barbie legend who originally voiced Ken doll dies aged 96 | The Sun

BILL Cunningham, the original voice of Ken in Barbie commercials, has died aged 96.

He passed away on July 15 at his home in West Hollywood, California.

The iconic artist was the original voice of Ken for the famous Barbie records during the 1960s.

Cunningham also co-founded the CESD Talent Agency, one of the most successful commercial and voice-over talent agencies in the industry.

The tragic news comes as Warner Bros.' new Barbie film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is smashing box office records – with the iconic dolls seeing a resurgence in popularity thanks to the blockbuster movie.

"Bill set the template for client and customer service, particularly in commercial, voice-over and print," said CESD partners Ken Slevin and Paul Doherty in a statement following his death.


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"He was a warm, gregarious, classy man who made a positive impact on all those he represented and employed. It was our honor to know him and to learn from him". 

The agency gave no other details regarding his death, according to Deadline.

The legendary voice artist was born in San Francisco in 1927 and entered Hollywood at a young age.

But before heading to Hollywood, Cunningham served on a minesweeper ship during World War II in the United States Navy.

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He toured with the Fort Emory Drum and Bugle Corp and performed in front of audiences at several locations throughout the Pacific theatre.

Following the war, Cunningham returned home to pursue a singing career where he began on NBC's Voices of Walter Schumann and The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.

The singer also made appearances on a number of movie soundtracks for Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. before landing the gig as the singing voice for Barbie's boyfriend, Ken.

In 1962, Cunningham released an album titles I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, but just a year later he began his own talent agency which is said to be one of the first in Los Angeles.

He reportedly used his savings to create the Pacific Artists Agency, which started with just 10 voice-over artists.

The company expanded into New York City and Chicago in 1971, when T.J. Escott bought the firm.

The firm has come to be known as CESD (Cunningham-Escott-Slevin-Doherty) after Cunningham retired in 1989 and Slevin and Doherty were made partners in 2005.

In 2014, the legendary voice artist released his memoir I Wonder What Became Of me and he is survived by friends and family, including his nephews and nieces Kirk, Kevin, Kristen, Janet, Barbara and Debbie.

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