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SYFY WIRE obituary

Danny Goldman, Brainy Smurf voice and Young Frankenstein star, dies at 80

By Benjamin Bullard
Brainy Smurf

The voice that memorably brought a little order and much-needed nerdy caution to all that Smurfy chaos has gone quiet. Danny Goldman, the voice of the persistently conscientious Brainy Smurf on the iconic original animated Smurfs series, has reportedly passed away at the age of 80.

Goldman, whose high-pitched and often fretful vocal portrayal of the Smurfs’ resident scold, made Brainy Smurf stand out in a show that relied on individual nuance to distinguish one tiny blue mushroom-dwelling character from another. Despite his thankless role as the Smurfs’ voice of fear-based reasoning, Brainy distinguished himself among an all-star Smurfs lineup that featured standouts like Papa Smurf, Smurfette, and the nefarious human-and-cat antagonist duo of Gargamel and Azraell.

A know-it-all who really just wanted the best for the entire Smurf village (and, let’s face it, a little attention for himself) anytime someone would embark at a whim on some dangerous adventure, Brainy served up an intentionally irritating measure of comic relief that both kids and adults enjoyed throughout the near decade-long run of Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning staple.

Goldman also stood out in his small 1974 role in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, playing a pesky medical student in the film’s opening scene against star Gene Wilder (Dr. Frankenstein). Pestering the mad doctor not to discard his grandfather’s monster research, Goldman’s unnamed character drove Frankenstein to stab himself in the leg with a scalpel in exasperation.

Deadline reports that Goldman passed away on April 12 in Los Angeles following health complications related to a pair of strokes he had suffered, noting that his passing was not related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. His acting career also saw him show up in numerous guest appearances on a long list of TV series from the 1970s through the 1990s, including The Good Life, Get Smart, The Partridge Family, Columbo, Cagney & Lacey, The Golden Girls, and The King of Queens. He also appeared in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, as well as other movies throughout the 1970s.

Goldman also enjoyed a lengthy entertainment industry career as a TV commercial casting director, but Smurfs fans will always recognize him first and foremost as the voice of Brainy. His glasses-wearing character, always there to nitpick anyone who’d listen (or, more often, anyone who wouldn’t), was a reliable TV presence throughout the show’s nine-season run from 1981 to 1989 — and has kept right on winning new fans through the years, as the original series keeps The Smurfs fresh in syndication at the Boomerang network.