Character actor and language expert Robert Easton passed away from natural causes at his home in Toluca Lake, Los Angeles last Friday (16Dec11) at the age of 81.
Easton began his career as an actor and landed roles on TV shows such as The Munsters, Get Smart and The Adventures of Superman and in films like 1961’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991.
But he became famed for his skills as a phoneticist and was regularly referred to as the Henry Higgins of Hollywood, in reference to the strict speech tutor in My Fair Lady.
As a dialect coach, Easton taught actors including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson, Sir Ben Kingsley and Anne Hathaway, while his work on 2006’s The Last King of Scotland landed Whitaker the Oscar for Best Actor.
Easton continued to work right up until his death, even recording a speech tape for John Travolta to use for an upcoming project.
His daughter Heather Woodruff Perry tells the Los Angeles Times, “A month ago, he did an entire script on tape for John Travolta.”
Paying tribute to the veteran, Robert Duvall, who worked with Easton on Gods and Generals in 2003, says, “They (film producers) said, ‘We want Virginia accents’. Bob said, ‘Which one? There are 12 distinct accents, from the Piedmont to the ocean.’ He knew them all.
“He was a wonderful man, a very unique personality, and a master at his craft.”