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William Dufris, a longtime voiceover artist known for playing animated construction worker Bob the Builder, has died at the age of 62 after a battle with cancer. His passing was confirmed on Twitter by Pocket Universe Productions, an entertainment company he co-founded with Lance Roger Axt.
"We are heartbroken to announce that the co-founder of @pocketplot and the director of 'EC Comics Presents... The Vault of Horror,' William Dufris, has died from cancer," reads the tweet from Monday. "There is a hole in a lot of people’s hearts right now. We will have more to say later. Bless you, Bill."
Born in Houlton, Maine in early February of 1958, Dufris's voiceover career began in London where he lived for 13 years. He appeared in several BBC radio plays alongside legends like Kathleen Turner, Sharon Gless, Stockard Channing, and Helena Bonham-Carter. In addition, he collaborated with audio drama writer/director Dirk Maggs on audio adaptations of The Amazing Spider-Man (here, he voiced Peter Parker), Judge Dredd, and An American Werewolf in London.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Dufris voiced characters for English dubs of Japanese anime such as Angel Cop, Genocyber, Patlabor: The Movie, and more.
Between 1998 and 2006, he portrayed Bob the Builder in the U.S. and Canada. He also created the voices for Farmer Pickles and Mr. Beasley. Animated in the style of stop-motion, the kids' program (created by Keith Chapman) follows an upbeat contractor who solves structural problems with some help from his talking machinery. The main character's constant refrain is "Can we fix it? Yes we can!"
After founding The Story Circle, Ltd in England, Dufris returned to America, where he established Mind’s Eye Productions and Audio Comics. The aforementioned Pocket Universe is focused on the production of "fully immersive 'audio movies,' adapted from science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller prose, as well as from stage plays and graphic novels," reads the site.
Prior to his death, Dufris received APA’s Audie Award, as well as several Golden Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine. That same publication once named him "One Of The Best Voices At The End Of The Century."