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One of the voices responsible for bringing Marvel’s comic book heroes to early life on the small screen has passed away. Canadian actor Paul Soles, who gave an animated Peter Parker his first-ever TV voice as Spider-Man, has died in Toronto at the age of 90.
A versatile actor whose career in film and TV spanned decades, Soles provided memorable character parts for a string of animated 1960s television projects, most notably for Marvel fans as the voice of Peter Parker in the original 1967-1970 animated Spider-Man series. Fans of all ages are also likely to remember Soles’ voice as that of Hermey the elf in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the iconic Rankin/Bass Animated Entertainment stop-motion Christmas TV special from 1964 — a program that continues to enjoy abundant screen time when the holiday season rolls around.
Spidey wasn’t the only Marvel part that he played. Soles' 1960s TV work also featured him as the voice of Bruce Banner/The Hulk; Rick Jones; and supervillain Attuma in the syndicated 1967 animated series The Marvel Superheroes. His role in the original Spider-Man series was a seminal moment in Marvel history, marking the first time that the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko-created character had ever come to life on screen. Through three seasons (the first two at ABC, the last in syndication), Spider-Man was a Saturday-morning TV cartoon staple, and enjoyed a lengthy run in subsequent syndication as appointment viewing for young comic book fans.
Soles’ acting career, both vocal and otherwise, stretched through six decades, beginning with his TV voice work in the 1960s (including the 1965 animated movie Willy McBean and His Magic Machine, another Rankin/Bass stop-motion project). Through the ensuing decades, Soles starred in a long string of live-action films as well, highlighted by his appearance in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk — the second film to arrive in the then-nascent MCU — as Stanley, a pizza shop proprietor who assists Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner. Soles also appeared alongside Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Angela Bassett in The Score, the 2001 heist movie directed by Frank Oz.
Though Soles’ film appearances were consistent through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, he was primarily known to many in his native Canada as a radio and TV hosting personality during his early career. He voiced the title role in the 1967 Canadian animated series Max, the 2000-Year-Old Mouse, and was a featured presenter in the 1960s for Canada’s CBC-TV. His final screen appearance came in a small role in the 2016 Canadian romance film The Second Time Around.
Born Aug. 11, 1930 in Toronto, Paul Robert Soles passed away in his hometown on May 26, 2021. “He will be remembered as a charming, magnanimous, principled man, a creative and versatile performer and a proud Canadian,” his obituary reads. “It was the titans of radio who first fired his imagination and he set out to emulate them from an early age.”