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    Voice of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, RIP

    A Christmas classic has been silenced.

    Billie Mae Richards, the Canadian radio actress who provided the male voice for plucky Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, died Friday at her home near Toronto. She was 88.

    "Kids won't believe it when my grandchildren tell them that their grandmother is really Rudolph," Richards said in a 2005 interview with Filmfax magazine. She was credited as "Billy Richards" to mask the fact that she was a woman.

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, based on the eponymous 1949 song, premiered in 1964 and CBS airs it to this day around the holidays.

    "What better legacy can you leave than a show that everybody loves?" Richards told NPR in 2004.

    The grandmother of 12 also voiced the sequels Rudolph's Shiny New Year and Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, and she was Tender Heart Bear in the The Care Bears Movie.

    ________

    Pay homage to recently departed celebs in our 2010's Fallen Stars gallery.

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