Erik Bauersfeld, a longtime radio dramatist famous for voicing the character Admiral Ackbar in two Star Wars films, died Sunday of natural causes at his home in Berkeley, CA. He was 93. His manager Derek Maki of Coolwater Productions confirmed the news to Deadline.
Bauersfeld started at Bay Area public radio outlet KPFA in 1961 and built up its arts and humanities programming during his three decades as Drama and Literature director. In the early 1980s, Bauersfeld was at Lucasfilm working on a radio project. Ben Burtt — who was the sound designer for 1977’s Star Wars and would go on to serve in that job for all of the franchise’s films — asked him to try out for some voices in the 1983 second sequel Return of the Jedi. In a recent interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Bauersfeld said, “He showed me a picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it.”
The crustacean-like Ackbar was a supporting character in that film but would become popular in future books and comics in the Star Wars canon. As the rebel forces attack to start the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, Ackbar sounded his most famous line: “It’s a trap!” The character resurfaced in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and nonagenarial Bauersfeld reprised the voice role. This time, Ackbar was a leader of the Resistance who works on plans to destroy the First Order’s superweapon and track down the last Jedi, Luke Skywalker.
The actor also did voice work for last year’s Guillermo del Toro film Crimson Peak, Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and the 1993 video game Star Wars: X-Wing.
Here is a portion of Bauersfeld’s interview with Peter Hartlaub of the Chronicle: