'Tony The Tiger' Iconic Voice Actor Lee Marshall Dies

Lee Marshall, the iconic voice of Tony the Tiger, the overly enthusiastic Frosties mascot, has died at age 64. According to The LA Times, Marshall passed away last month at a Santa Monica hospital. He had esophageal cancer, his son Jason Marshall VanBorssum said for The Times. His voice work might be most recognizable from that infamous “They’re grrrreat!” but his unique bass has been booming in wrestling arenas and radio newsrooms for decades, long before he got the Tony the Tiger gig in 1999.

But Lee hadn’t always been Tony and vice versa. The original Tony the Tiger was an actor named Thurl Ravenscroft, whose line "They're g-r-r-r-e-a-t" resonated across the airwaves from 1952 until months before his 2005 death at age 91. Marshall has said in a number of interviews that he started helping out when Ravenscroft was in his 80s and started struggling with some of the dialogue. 

In the meantime, Marshall was building a name for himself as a deejay and sports broadcaster, a ring announcer and voiceover artist. He worked in practically any field that had room for his deep and melodic voice. Playing the goofy, gregarious tiger was an unusual gig for Marshall, whose timbre tended to land him roles as cartoon villains. "I would just once like to be the guy who saves Scooby-Doo," he complained to his agent.

That would never happen, he was told: "You'll always be the guy who tries to kill Scooby-Doo."

Decades later, Marshall’s Tony might be not only the most infamous, but the friendliest cartoon mascot ever created.


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