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SYFY WIRE obituary

Shane Rimmer, Thunderbirds voice actor with roles in Bond and Batman, dies at 89

By Benjamin Bullard
The marionette cast of British TV series Thunderbirds

Shane Rimmer, a Canadian actor who had uncredited appearances in Star Wars, early James Bond movies, and was best known as the voice of pilot Scott Tracy on the 1960s sci-fi series Thunderbirds, has reportedly passed away.

According to Variety, Rimmer, who took on numerous roles in sci-fi shows and movies from the 1960s onward, died March 29 at his home in England. He was 89. 

Rimmer’s voice-acting role on Thunderbirds spanned the marionette animated series’ two-season run on Britain’s ITV Network, where his role as Scott Tracy put him in the cockpit of hypersonic recon rocket Thunderbird 1. Rimmer’s character also provided narration for syndicated versions of the original show.

Comprising five siblings who manned the show’s high-tech Thunderbird military craft (which even included a submersible), the Tracys formed the secretive IR (International Rescue) team, which traveled the planet to save people from danger. Diehard fans will no doubt remember the show’s famous opening-theme countdown, which ended in the oft-repeated catchphrase “Thunderbirds are go!” — and ITV rebooted the series in 2015 under exactly that name.

Canadian actor Shane Rimmer

Rimmer’s relationship with Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson led to more sci-fi TV collaborations with Anderson’s Century 21 production company through the 1960s and '70s, including Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, UFO, and the visually lavish Space: 1999.

In addition to his sci-fi roles with Anderson, Rimmer also showed up for small parts in more than 100 movies, according to The Guardian. He appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope as a Rebel crew leader, and took on a handful of unrelated, uncredited roles in early James Bond movies including Live and Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, and The Spy Who Loved Me (in a credited appearance as Commander Carter). As Capt. Ace Owens, Rimmer also co-piloted the B-52 alongside James Earl Jones in the famous flight scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Rimmer continued taking on small roles in movies of all types well into his later life, including an appearance in Batman Begins (2005) as a Gotham Water Board technician, as well as in Dark Shadows (2012) as an unnamed board member. He published a novel, Long Shot, in 2014.

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