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William Dufris (1958–2020), original voice of Bob the Builder

by Linnea Crowther

William Dufris was a voice actor best known as the original voice of Bob the Builder on the children’s animated series. He was also an award-winning audiobook narrator and producer.

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Died: March 24, 2020 (Who else died on March 24?)

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Details of death: Died of cancer at the age of 62.


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“Bob the Builder” and beyond: Dufris voiced the main character of “Bob the Builder,” a building contractor who taught children life lessons while doing construction and renovations. He was with the show for the first nine seasons of the US and Canada version, later replaced by comedian Greg Proops when he left the show. Dufris also did voice work for anime productions including “X” and “Appleseed.” As an audiobook narrator, his notable titles include Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem” and Stephen King’s “Dance Macabre,” and he won an Audie Award for his narration of “The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars” by Paul Collins. Dufris co-founded Pocket Universe Productions, which creates audio dramas, as well as other audio production companies.

Dufris on his lifelong love of audio: “I grew up with old albums that my parents had of old-time radio — ‘Lights Out,’ ‘The Shadow’ — all of those classics. I recall how I felt lying in the dark with one of those pieces playing — you know, the cinema of the mind. Everything in the mind’s eye was coming to life in a way that I controlled and created based on the voices and the storytelling that I heard. I was definitely drawn in.” —from a 2012 interview with the Stories2music blog

What people said about him: “Goodbye William Dufris, you will be sorely missed! A wonderful audiobook producer to work with and a fantastic human being. Always full of hugs and pure joy. Never without a smile.” —Audiobook narrator Pearl Hewitt

“Pouring one out tonight for William Dufris, a dear friend and mentor who left us tonight after a long fight with throat cancer. …Most people know him as Bob the Builder, but he was one of the most supportive wonderful people in the Audio Fiction community. So if you have some time tonight, maybe fire up one of his audiobooks or podcasts. He was a legend, and he will be sorely missed.” —actor Ned Donovan

Full obituary: Inquisitr

Related lives:

  • Russi Taylor (1944 – 2019), voice of Minnie Mouse and “Simpsons” characters
  • Jason Davis (1984 – 2020), voice of Mikey Blumberg on “Recess”
  • Andrea Arruti (1998 – 2020), voice of Elsa in Spanish-language “Frozen”

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