R.I.P. Yoda’s voice in Spanish
Have you ever been channel-surfing and happened to catch Yoda in a dubbed Star Wars movie on one of the Spanish-language TV networks?
Chances are good, then, that you’ve heard the voice of Ricard Palmerola, who died Saturday in Barcelona at age 88.
Palmerola did Yoda’s voice in Star Wars movie episodes I-III, the prequels that came out beginning in the late 1990s. He was the last surviving voice of the diminutive green Jedi in Spanish, since his predecessors in that role have also both passed away: Alberto Trifol and Fernando Ulloa (Frank Oz is the famous English-language voice of Yoda). Below is Yoda-Palmerola taking on the dreaded Emperor.
A few years ago, recalling his work on the Star Wars prequels, Palmerola quipped that his dubbing production supervisor in Los Angeles said to him: “Ricard, don’t you die on me!”
Palmerola was an interesting character. He emigrated from Spain to Cuba in the late 1940s in the midst of a successful radio career, and ended up in Puerto Rico after that.
He became an award-winning voice for dubbed U.S. TV shows and movies.
From Puerto Rico, Palmerola supplied his peculiar gravelly intonations for ultra-popular Spanish-language versions of TV’s Perry Mason and Bonanza, and also served as a kind of ambassador-at-large for the correct usage of Spanish in dubbing.
You might call him a key defender of Spanish, since so many in Latin America and Spain have their ears and speech trained by watching dubbed U.S. movies. Palmerola was versatile: he could also dub into Catalan, his native tongue.
In addition, Palmerola supplied his voice to dubbed versions of Japanese animated series Dr. Slump and Dragonball.
In interviews, Palmerola said he admired Yoda’s philosophy, and cited the pointy-eared wise man’s famous line, “There is no try, only do,” which in Spanish becomes: Hazlo o no lo hagas. No existe el probar.
Palmerola was also friends with famous Spanish musicians Pablo Casals and Joan Manuel Serrat.