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Joe Sirola (1929–2019), “The King of the Voice-Overs”

by Kirk Fox

Character actor played Freddy Fleet on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Joe Sirola was a journeyman character actor who found his greatest success as “The King of the Voice-Overs.” His voice was heard on hundreds of commercials that aired on television and radio. He was a pitchman for Wendy’s, Ford, Vicks, General Electric and many other campaigns including the “I Love New York” commercials. As an actor, he had a memorable role as band leader Freddy Fleet on a season 3 episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.” His other TV appearances include “Perry Mason” and “Get Smart,” alongside roles on Broadway and the big screen. He served in the military during the Korean War.

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Died: Sunday, February 10, 2019 (Who else died February 10?)

Details of death: Died at the age of 89 from respiratory failure in Manhattan.

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His success as a voice-over artist: “I used the mic as a person. I spoke to the audience rather than at them. I went from $3,200 a year to a million a year for 20 years.” —Sirola in a 2011 interview with Columbia College Today

Volkswagen mini-documentaries: In 2010, Sirola starred in a popular commercial series as a senior citizen named Sluggy Patterson who was said to have accidentally started a game where you punch someone in the arm every time you see a Volkswagen.

See Joe Sirola and other TV commercial stars in our gallery.

Full obituary: New York Times

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