Peter Fernandez, the voice of Speed Racer, has passed away.
William Weber, Wee Willie Weber, who hosted the show that introduced many of us in Pennsylvania to Japanese animation, also passed away this week.
When I was in elementary school I used to run home to turn on the TV and using the UHF dial do my best to tune in the Philadelphia station to watch Speed Racer, Kimba the White Lion, Astro Boy, Marine Boy, and Ultra Man. My mom did not approve of these, so it was just as well that she wasn't home yet when they came on. Unknown to me at that time, my future spouse was watching the same things on his set 80 miles away.
My spouse and I purchased our first car together, a White Ford Probe with MACHFIV as the license plate. I mentioned Speed Racer in my speech at the opening ceremony for Otakon 2002, when I was Con Chair, saying that when I was little I had planned on marrying Speed Racing when I grew up, and got a cheer.
I did get to meet Mr. Fernandez when he was a guest at Otakon. For me this was The Guest to End All Guests, more important than any other guest we have ever had. And my spouse knew this when he introduced us. I told Mr. Fernandez how pleased I was to meet him. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that Speed Racer was "just a cartoon", and I told him strongly that it was Never Just A Cartoon, that Speed Racer was a hero to us growing up, that we had all wanted to BE Speed Racer.
He got a big smile on his face.
At the end of the con he told the staff that he had never felt so welcome, and that he would love to come back.