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Original Boba Fett voice actor Jason Wingreen dies at 95

LOS ANGELES — Actor Jason Wingreen, who gave voice to Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back” and played bartender Harry on TV’s “All in the Family,” has died. He was 95.

Mr. Wingreen’s longtime manager and friend, James Harty, said Tuesday that Wingreen died of old age on Christmas Day at his home in Los Angeles.

Mr. Wingreen gave voice to the imposing Mandalorian bounty hunter in “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” (the character was portrayed on-screen by Jeremy Bulloch in the original “Star Wars” trilogy). He, however, never received residuals for his work, something that never sat well with the actor. In a 2010 interview with the Classic TV History, Mr. Wingreen said of recording the four lines of dialogue:

“Then I went to record it, on a stage in Hollywood, on one afternoon in 1980. I met Gary Kurtz, the line producer, and IrvinKershner, the director of The Empire Strikes Back. They showed me the scenes where the lines would be delivered, where Jeremy Bullock walked and spoke. I didn’t have to lip synch because he had a mask on. You could say them any time, and I fit them in. I watched it, I got a feeling of what the character was, and then we shot the stuff. I did the four lines a couple of times.Kershner came out of the control room once, made one suggestion, and I did it. And that was the day’s work. I think the actual work, aside from thehellos and goodbyes and all that, could have been no more than ten minutes. … But I do know it’s my voice on there, and I got paid.

“… But the thing about it is, the thing that really bothered me and everybody else who has been involved with [George Lucas] in these productions, is that there are no residuals. This was done on an English contract, and at that time English studios were not paying residuals. And as far as ancillary rights, Lucas tied them all up in your contract. So my voice has been used in action figures, and I have a little helmet that my son and daughter-in-law bought me on eBay and gave me as a birthday present, where if you press a little button my voice says, ‘Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold.’ That’s my voice, and I don’t get a single penny for that. So I have no love for George Lucas.”

Boba Fett | LUCASFILM
Boba Fett | LUCASFILM

Born in Brooklyn in 1920, Wingreen’s acting career spanned five decades. Besides voicing the bounty hunter Boba Fett in the 1980 “Star Wars” sequel, Wingreen’s credits include appearances on “Matlock,” ”Seinfeld,” ”Star Trek” and “Bonanza.” He also appeared in three episodes of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” playing the train conductor in “A Stop at Willoughby.”

The actor co-founded New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre company, and appeared on Broadway in “The Girl on the Via Flaminia” and “Fragile Fox” in the early 1950s.

Mr. Wingreen is survived by his son, a sister and two grandchildren.

Associated Press