July 16, 2010 at 04:40 PM EDT

Peter Fernandez, the voice of several characters on the imported Japanese anime TV series Speed Racer, passed away on Thursday, according to the Anime News Network website. The cause was lung cancer. Fernandez began his acting career early and appeared on Broadway with stage legend Ethel Barrymore at age 11. But it was his voice work on the high-octane cartoon for which he was best known. Fernandez not only dubbed the voice of the show’s title character beginning in 1967, but also Racer X and a host of others. He even wrote the lyrics to the catchy theme song. Speed Racer was adapted from the Japanese cartoon Mach Go Go Go and was turned into a big-budget, live-action Hollywood film in 2008 starring Emile Hirsch and directed by The Matrix‘s Wachowski brothers. Fernandez made a cameo in the film as an announcer. In an interview with The New York Times at the time of the film’s release, Fernandez said, “Of all the things you’ve done in show business, this is the one thing that’s recognized.” Of working on the show, he added, “The only instructions I got was to Americanize it. It was a challenging assignment, because the episodes would come in sporadically and with only rough translations. I never knew what was coming next.”

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