To some, he was the voice of Rodimus Prime on the mid-1980s animated TV show “The Transformers,” or Serpentor on the animated “G.I. Joe.” But for baby boomers, Dick Gautier was best known for his deadpan performance as Hymie the robot in the ’60s spy spoof “Get Smart.”
The actor died Friday, according to a Facebook post by Tess Hightower, his third wife. Gautier’s daughter Denise told the Hollywood Reporter that he passed away at an assisted living facility in Arcadia after a long illness. He was 85.
Gautier earned a Tony nomination for his performance as Conrad Birdie, an Elvis Presley-esque singer, in the original Broadway production of “Bye, Bye Birdie,” which also starred Dick Van Dyke.
Born in Culver City, Gautier began his show business career as a comedian and was spotted performing at a New York club by renowned dancer-choreographer Gower Champion, who urged him to audition for “Bye, Bye Birdie.”
Though he made only six appearances on “Get Smart,” his character, Hymie, a robot with superhuman strength and intelligence but a tendency to interpret commands in an overly literal fashion, became a fan favorite. He reprised the role in the 1989 made-for-TV movie “Get Smart, Again!”
Gautier also starred as Robin Hood in the Mel Brooks series "When Things Were Rotten" and on multiple episodes of the anthology comedy series "Love, American Style."
He was a fixture on the talk- and game-show circuit of the 1970s, appearing on “Password,” “Tattletales,” “Match Game,” “Dinah!” and “Hollywood Squares,” among others.
Gautier also published several books about caricature drawing, and a children’s book called “A Child’s Garden of Weirdness.”
Gautier became popular to a younger generation through his voiceover work. In addition to “G.I. Joe,” and “Transformers,” he voiced dozens of animated characters on “Duck Tales,” “Cow and Chicken” and many more. He also continued his guest star work through 2010 on dozens of television shows, including “Nip/Tuck,” “Matlock,” and “Knight Rider.”
He is survived by Hightower and his three children.