Friday, March 13, 2009

Voiceover Talent Connie Zimet Remembered

Obituary for voiceover talent Connie Zimet in the Miami Herald:

Sometimes sultry, sometimes snappy, sometimes over-the-top Noo Yawk shmoozy, jingle-singer and voice-over artist Connie Zimet promised that Coke was the real thing, that Honda wants you to be safe and that Norwegian cruises are ``as far from the everyday as a ship can take you.''

In word and song, Zimet pitched thousands of products in her long career, including Apple computers, Fresca soda, Pall Mall cigarettes, Ajax scouring powder, Chevrolets and Godfather's pizzas.

In the end stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease -- she contracted bronchitis and died at home in Plantation on Tuesday. She was 67.

The versatile performer acted in Off-Broadway plays, sang in nightclubs and made records. She was the voice of Lucy on an album version of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and in 1971, as ''Connie Z,'' narrated The Way to Become the Sensuous Woman for Atlantic Records. Published in 1969, the book -- a first-person erotic manual by ''J'' -- was a classic of the sexual revolution.

Zimet grew up in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, the daughter of a traveling salesman and a one-time dancer. Her only sibling, a brother, drowned in childhood.

She began acting in local productions and summer stock theater at the age of 8, then went to New York at 17.

She studied interior design and acting, and signed with Colpix, Capitol and Todd record labels, according to Zach Ziskin, of Fort Lauderdale, her only child.

She was married briefly to composer/pianist Victor Ziskin, a Leonard Bernstein protégé.

When Zimet moved to South Florida in the mid-1970s, ''there was not much of a market here for voiceovers,'' said Zach, a music producer who also does voice-over work.

``She was a pioneer who helped build the market. . . . The more she did it, the more opportunities opened up for her. And before she knew it, it was 20 years later and she was considered an expert in the field.''

Zimet led the Miami chapter of AFTRA -- American Federation of Television & Radio Artists -- from 2003 until last year. In 2004, at a workshop in New Orleans, she described the voice-over artist's mission:

``You're an actor when you're doing a voice-over. So, find your character, your attitude, answer what your condition is, and the voice will come out the way it should be heard. Focus on intention.''

She suggested that hopefuls in the field ``read everything aloud -- magazines, newspapers, recipes. Yeah, it may bug your significant other or your pets, but they'll get used to it. . . .''

Herta Suarez, AFTRA's southeast regional director, said that ``everybody I know here on both sides, producers and performers, claimed she really built this market. She was very busy herself, teaching voice lessons and doing voice-overs.''

When she taught, Suarez said, ``people would just not want to leave because she was so entertaining.''

Zimet had a wide repertoire of tones and accents, all with a reassuring warmth: naughty to sweet, chirpy to silky, peppy to languid. She could do almost any character: little old lady, confidential gal-pal, shrieking harpy, Southern charmer, reassuring voice of authority.

''Whatever something called for, she was up for it,'' said Zach, though at home, 'she was never really `on.' ''

Two years ago, Zimet began to stumble and fall, which she chalked up to bad knees, but replacement surgery didn't help. In rehab, she couldn't walk at all.

By early 2008, Zimet began losing functions in her arms and hands. In her final months, ALS stole the voice that made her career.

An Internet fundraising campaign enabled the family to buy a sight-recognition communications device that Zach said ''was truly a godsend'' when his mother could no longer speak.

``She had it for the last month and was able to communicate with her eye movement.''

Zach plans to complete the the book his mother left unfinished: Connie Zimet's Voice-over Tool Box. He also plans a celebration of her life in the coming months.

Connie Zimet's website: and her voiceover demos page.

We wish her family and friends the best at this time. It's always sad to have another voice stilled. We send our sincere condolences. Please donate what you can to the ALS Association "Fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease" in Connie's memory.


1 comment:

  1. Although it's been a while since I've talked to you Connie, I think about you all the time when I'm giving direction in session. The time you told me that I had great directing skills has really stuck with me, especially coming from a pro like you. Take care Connie and thanx. We'll miss you.