Comedy writer, voice actor of 'Smokey the Bear'

Gene Moss, comedy writer and voice actor who lent his vocal abilities to U.S. Forest Service mascot Smokey Bear for many years, co-wrote and voiced many “Roger Ramjet” cartoons and co-created L.A. TV show “Shrimpenstein,” died of cancer July 15 at the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 75.

Moss embarked on a career in advertising in the early 1960s and met longtime writing partner Jim Thurman at a company softball game. The pair teamed up to write more than 150 episodes and do voices for cartoon show “Roger Ramjet.”

Also in the 1960s, they collaborated on KHJ-TV Channel 9’s locally aired children’s show “Shrimpenstein.” Moss served as host Dr. Von Schtick while Thurman provided puppetry work and voices for the characters, including Shrimpenstein, a miniature Frankenstein.

Born Eugene Moshontz, Moss began a 10-year stint as the voice of Smokey in 1979, including the famous warning, “Only you can prevent forest fires” in radio and TV public service announcements.

The Cleveland native also did voiceover work through the ’80s for numerous ads before retiring to Palm Desert in 1989, where he pursued his love of music as a jazz bass player; he had given up his blossoming music career after he married his first wife and started a family in 1948.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Carolyn, two sons, a daughter and six grandchildren.

Services will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Sportsman’s Lodge at 12833 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

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