Actor best known as the voice of Scott on Thunderbirds

Born: May 28, 1929;

Died: March 29, 2019

SHANE Rimmer, who has died aged 89, was a Canadian actor who lived in England for six decades, gathering an impressive array of small roles in films and television shows, which lent his CV the appearance of a tour round late 20th century film history. Yet the irony is his most famous part was one in which his face wasn’t seen - he was the voice of Scott Tracy, leader of the team in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s hugely successful puppet animation series Thunderbirds, which he worked on between 1965 and 1968.

Rimmer’s record of film work, which covered more than 50 years between the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 2010s, gave him an impressive repertoire in both genre fiction and serious drama. He appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove (1964) as ‘Ace’ Owens, co-pilot of the B-52 which drops a nuclear bomb; Norman Jewison’s merciless sci-fi sports film Rollerball (1975); Warren Beatty’s historical drama Reds (1981); Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning Ghandi (1982); Tony Scott’s erotic vampire thriller The Hunger (1983); and Out of Africa (1985), another Oscar-winner.

Although his roles in his elder years were not quite as prestigious, he continued to work and often popped up in notable fare, for example as an estate agent in Tony Scott’s vehicle for Robert Redford and Brad Pitt Spy Game (2001), and a board member in Tim Burton’s gothic comedy-horror Dark Shadows (2012). His bit part in Batman Begins (2005) added another iconic series to an impressive genre repertoire which involved small parts in four James Bond films between 1967 and 1977, and the first three films in the Christopher Reeve-starring Superman series (1978 to 1983).

He had a line in Star Wars (1977; as the technician who asks Luke Skywalker if he wants to scrap R2-D2), made a 1966 appearance in the Wild West-set Doctor Who story The Gunfighters, and played two separate characters in Coronation Street. The first time round, in 1970, his character died at the end of a hostage siege.

The parts were small but they added up to an expansive career, and they were further bolstered by a long-lasting association with the Andersons throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, creating voices and scripts – and occasionally appearing onscreen – in the puppet-based series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90 and The Secret Service, and the live action UFO, The Protectors and Space:1999.

Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1929, Shane Rimmer started out as a DJ and singer on Canadian radio, hosting his own CBC television show Come Fly with Me and touring to England and New York as part of a vocal trio called The Three Deuces. He first visited the UK in 1959, to appear at the invite of director Dick Lester in an ITV special named After Hours with Cleo Lane, and moved here permanently upon meeting his wife Sheila, whom he married in September 1963. Originally a dancer, Sheila became his agent as well, and secured his later acting work.

Although he continued to record and release crooning, Sinatra-style ballads in the 1960s, acting became Rimmer’s main income, with the added attraction of his deep, North American accent drawing British casting directors to him (even though the look of Scott Tracy’s rugged puppet was based upon that of a Scot, Sean Connery).

Shane Rimmer, who died at Barnet Hospital, is survived by his wife and the couple’s three sons, as well as a unique and distinctive career which has seen him remembered since his passing by one Tweeter as “the godfather of ‘I know that guy’ casting”.