Erik Bauersfeld, who voiced Admiral Ackbar and Bib Fortuna in the Star Wars saga, died at his home in Berkeley, Calif. on Sunday. He was 93.
Though Bauersfeld’s most enduring fame stems from his role as Ackbar—and particularly from his iconic revelation that the Rebel forces were flying directly into an Imperial trap in Return of the Jedi—he spent the vast majority of his career in radio. In 1961, he joined the staff of Berkeley public radio station KPFA, and two years later, he became its director of drama and literature, a post he’d hold for the next three decades.
Bauersfeld essentially stumbled upon the voice role of Ackbar. He was at Lucasfilm working on an unrelated radio project with Oscar-winning sound designer Randy Thom when he was approached to read for the character. After looking at a photo of the admiral, Bauersfeld devised the voice almost immediately, and after about an hour of recording, he was done. He later recorded the parts for Bib Fortuna in the span of a half hour.
The most interesting thing about Bauersfeld’s fame: he wasn’t credited as the voice of Ackbar in Return of the Jedi. Fans figured it out years later, but well before Bauersfeld reprised the role in The Force Awakens.