Billie Mae Richards, who lent her voice to the lead character in the classic 1964 Rankin-Bass holiday special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, died from a stroke Sept. 10 in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, reports Variety. She was 88.
A native of the Toronto area, Richards began acting as a child and transitioned into radio, working at the CBC after World War II.
Her ability to sound like a young boy earned her plenty of work as a voice actress, and she landed the role of Rudolph when the producers came to Canada in search of new talent. She did three other specials for Rankin-Bass, reprising her role as Rudolph in the 1976 special Rudolph’s Shiny New Year and 1979′s Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.
She worked regularly on animated series through 2004, including the 1960s version of Spider-Man and various Care Bears series and specials. She also appeared in live-action production such as the Maniac Mansion TV series and the 2001 feature film Bluehair.
Richards is survived by her four children and 12 grandchildren.