Robert Axelrod, the man who lent his voice to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ cackling dominus Lord Zedd and hundreds of other beloved characters across anime and Western cartoons, has passed away at the age of 70.
The actor’s passing was announced yesterday by his agent. Axelrod’s early career in acting included roles in The Blob, but his true strength lay in voice acting, lending his talents to everything from Robotech to one of his most notable animated roles, Digimon’s Wizardmon. But fans are likely to best remember Axelrod for his role as one of Power Rangers’ most sinister villains, Lord Zedd.
Introduced in the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers after the show became an overnight sensation, Zedd’s arrival — deposing its primary threat up till that point, Rita Repulsa, to take direct control of his force’s efforts against the Power Rangers — represented a seismic shift in the series’ sense of scale and threat.
It was a shocking status quo change that still goes down as one of the most iconic moments in the franchise’s entire history, and one sold — and made powerfully fearsome to kids watching — by Axelrod’s grand, booming performance.
Axelrod actually already lent his voice to another villain on the series before taking on the role of Zedd — voicing Finster, Rita’s imp-like monster maker — but it was in Zedd that he would become forever a part of Power Rangers’ legacy, a role that is still influencing aspects of the series, and being explored by it, today.
Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and colleagues in this sad time.