Cartoon voice, actor Sid Raymond dies, 97

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MIAMI, Florida -- Sid Raymond, an actor who landed roles alongside A-list stars and was the voice of beloved cartoon characters but went largely nameless himself, has died. He was 97.

Raymond died December 1 in Aventura, where he lived with his wife, from complications of a stroke the week before, his daughter Cynthia Raymond said Sunday by telephone from New York.

His agent called him the day he died about an audition for a cholesterol drug commercial, she said.

"Obviously he was kind of typecast as an older guy," she said. "But he would go to any commercial, anything."

The voice of the obese cartoon duck Baby Huey, the comical bartender of 1960s beer commercials for Schlitz and a familiar face on television from "The Ed Sullivan Show" to "The O.C.," Raymond was a show business fixture for six decades. But decades of brief, sometimes uncredited appearances on Broadway, in movies such as "The Hustler" and "Big Trouble" and on the small screen made him a familiar face.

"Having the job was not the hard work, he said. Getting the job was the work because he had to go to these auditions and they would have all these character actors together," Cynthia Raymond said.

Born Raymond Silverstein in Manhattan on January 21, 1909, Sid Raymond began his career as recreation director at a Catskills resort after dropping out of New York University. He went on to lead the traveling version of the radio show "Major Bowess Original Amateur Hour," which scoured America for talent.

During World War II, Raymond led a small troupe that performed at the front lines, sometimes under fire. He took over the role of Finnegan, the bartender on the radio show "Duffy's Tavern," in 1950.

Throughout the 1950s, Raymond appeared in televised dramas such as "Kraft Theater" and episodes of "The Honeymooners."

Raymond also lent his voice to Katnip, the cartoon cat that appeared in the "Herman and Katnip" series of animated film shorts in the 1940s and 1950s, and to mischievous cartoon magpies Heckle and Jeckle.

Documentary filmmaker Howard Weinberg profiled Raymondexternal link in a 27-minute film short in 2002 titled "Sid at 90."

"An inspiration for anyone who has ever clung to a passion, Sid Raymond concedes that, as an actor, he was never a star," Weinberg writes on the documentary's Web site. "But in the context of an enduring spirit, fame seems somehow beside the point."

Raymond is survived by his wife of 69 years, Dorothy, his daughter Cynthia and another daughter Margo Cohen, along with two sisters and a granddaughter.
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