Veteran character actor Robert Axelrod, best known for voicing Lord Zedd on the 1990s kids series Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers tragically passed away on Saturday. His agent announced that he had died via Twitter after a long illness. He was 70 years old.
“Robert enjoyed meeting his fans and inspiring them to follow their passions,” Axelrod’s agent wrote on Twitter. “His beautiful and kindred soul will never be forgotten and we take comfort in knowing his memory will live on in all those he inspired, met and knew.”
Axelrod was one of the most familiar voices on kids TV shows in the late 90s and early 2000s where he voiced Lord Zedd and Finster on Power Rangers as well as Wizardmon and Armadillomon on the popular Japanese animated series Digimon. He was also a voice actor in the iconic anime films Akira and Ghost in the Shell. According to his agent, he voiced over 150 characters throughout his decades-long career.
In addition to his voice acting work, Axelrod appeared in several films including the 1988 remake of The Blob and Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.
Fellow Power Rangers actor Jason David Frink offered his condolences on Twitter, “It’s Sad to wake up to bad news. I want to thank Robert Axelrod for bringing Lord Zedd to life.”
“I pray for your family and send blessings. You have left a legacy for all of us to share. Not only Power Ranger Fans, You as a Person.
Axelrod was born and raised in New York City and broke into the entertainment industry through acting in commercials before transitioning to theater acting as a teen. He was part of the Soho Avant-garde theater scene where he appeared in a show called “Little Trips”, then moved to Off-Broadway in a play called “The Destroyers”.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was a Professional Bassist in the 1970s
After his brief stint in acting as a young man, Axelrod transitioned to being a full-time musician in the 1970s. According to his website he spent 8 years working as a rock musician in New York City “playing electric bass and singing in folk, rock and soul bands”.
It’s unclear what bands Axelrod played for or who he was involved with at the time. He eventually left his career as a working musician and moved to Los Angeles to get back into acting which, according to his biography was “a decision he never regrets.”
1. He Was a Regular on Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Later in his career, Axelrod was cast by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim to play several characters on their alternative comedy show that aired late at night on Adult Swim. His most famous recurring character was “Terry Bruge Hiplo” a hunched over movie reviewer and news anchor known for his deadpan delivery and refusal to blink.
In the uncomfortable segments that mimic the bad public access television of the 1980s and 1990s, Axelrod delivers lines poorly and stiffly which fits in with the surreal nature of the show. The segments aren’t necessarily humorous on their own but Axelrod gives them a certain charm, especially if you’re a fan of Tim & Eric’s eccentric, sometimes oft-putting brand of anti-comedy.
Axelrod later appeared as himself in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012) and reprised his character as Terry Bruge Hiplo in their Adult Swim mini-movie Bagboy (2015) starring John C. Reilly as Dr. Steve Brule.
The comedy duo were big fans of his work and mourned his passing on social media. “Very sad to hear this news. Robert was always warm and wonderful to work with!” Tim Heidecker wrote on Twitter.
3. He Appeared in Several Popular TV Shows
Axelrod was best known for his roles as a voice actor but also appeared in several popular TV shows throughout his career. He was in the show Family Matters briefly as Paul McCartney in the episode “Talk’s Cheap”. Axelrod was also in Star Trek: Voyager for one episode as Egrid though he was uncredited.
He was cast in other, lesser-known TV shows as well including Spike TV’s “1,000 ways to die” where he played a character in a dramatization.
4. He Loved Interacting with His Fans
Since joining Twitter and Facebook in 2014, Robert Axelrod has been constantly interacting with his fans. He gives them shout outs every time they post about one of his characters or mention him by name. Most of the fanfare comes from his role as Lord Zedd on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and roles in Digimon but no matter the context Axelrod is always happy to play along.
He usually quotes fan tweets and will reply as Lord Zedd. “#LordZedd doesn’t do holidays. Technically his outfit means it’s #Halloween everyday so he has 365 chances to defeat the #PowerRangers.” He said on Twitter in October 2018. He also retweets Power Rangers fan art that features his character and offers his praise.
He sometimes retweeted fans who mentioned his character including this one from 2018, “Well, seeing as how villains are often associated with Halloween, I think Rita and Zedd have been the best Power Rangers villains ever ever since I was a kid, you scare me with Lord Zedd’s voice, in a good way!”
Axelrod ran his Twitter account at least somewhat by himself which was evident by a few posts that had the trademark of an older user on social media. This tweet wasn’t directed at anybody and read “Hi Bex! I believe you’ve been in touch with my manager, Kelly, here, so I thought I’d tweet and say she booked me for Preston, UK end of Sept, ’18. Are you near there? Would like to meet u if u are. What do u think? … Robert”
He was constantly making appearances at anime and Power Rangers conventions and attended as many as his health would allow.
It was clear he appreciated his fans and was grateful for the admiration he received for his most iconic roles.
5. He’s Been Battling an Illness for Years
According to posts on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, Robert had been in and out of the hospital since at least 2015. His manager and friends never shared the details of his illness but he has been battling it for some time.
His Twitter account posted in February 2015, “Good news guys Roberts manager says he is out of the hospital :)”. Things started to take a turn for the worse in 2018.
In June 2018, Mobile Monicker Productions, the company Axelrod worked with, posted an update on Axelrod’s health status, “Thank you for all your prayers and wishes for Robert Axelrod’s recovery aka Lord Zedd. We here at MMP are currently unable to provide updates for his condition as communication is highly limited. What we know is that he is in pain and is being taken care of after the surgery.”
He ran into complications and had to cancel an appearance at Preston Comic Con. The convention announced on Facebook “We are sorry to have to announce that due to complications following recent surgery, ROBERT AXELROD is no longer able to attend Preston Comic Con. We are sure that you will join us in wishing Robert a speedy recovery.”
He also had to cancel another appearance in 2018 due to complications from his surgery. “Robert Axelrod will no longer be appearing at Rangerstop.com in November 2018.” His Facebook page posted.
He succumbed to his undisclosed illness on Saturday.