Joseph A. Sirola, who was dubbed the “King of Voice-Overs” for his extensive work in commercials, died Sunday in New York. He was 89 years old.
His rep confirmed that he died from complications of respiratory failure.
He was best known for his deep, resonant voice that appeared in advertisements for companies like Ford, GE, Wendy’s, Mobil, Nyquil, and more. Sirola’s voice also highlighted the “I Love New York” campaign and, for over 20 years, the Empire State Building tour. His voice-over work won him 25 Clio Awards, which recognizes creative excellence in advertising, and the Wall Street Journal even dubbed Sirola the “King of the Voice-Overs” in a front-page story in 1970.
Besides stage and TV, Sirola acted in film as well, opposite stars like Rock Hudson in “Strange Bedfellows,” Clint Eastwood in “Hang ‘Em High,” and Max von Sydow in 1965’s “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
Sirola also made over 600 TV appearances, from his own series “The Montefuscos, “The Magician,” and co-starring with Jack Scalia in “Wolf,” to his guest spots in shows like “Quincy,” “NYPD Blue,” and “Hawaii Five-O.” He also had guest roles on numerous other shows including “Mission Impossible,” “Andy Griffith,” “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Get Smart.”
Born in Carteret, N.J., in 1929, Sirola attended Columbia University and then served in the Korean War. His first role was in an off-Broadway play, and then he balanced appearing on Broadway in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” with his regular role on CBS’ “The Brighter Day.” Sirola continued on Broadway with roles in “The Golden Rainbow,” “Pal Joey,” and his favorite part, Alfie Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.”
In the last few years, Sirola was a Tony Award-winning producer whose credits included “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love And Murder,” “The Trip To Bountiful,” and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”
Sirola is survived by his partner Claire Gozzo, his daughter, three granddaughters, and his goddaughter. A performer through and through, the week before he he died he told his rep, “Hey kid, when I get outta here, we have to find me a new agent.”