Fred Ladd (Fred Laderman) passed away at 94 years old on August 3rd. Ladd is credited as someone who helped bring anime to the US in 1963, with Astro Boy being the first ever anime to be cut, edited, and dubbed for the American kids audience.
Around 1962, the Fuji Network in Japan would air Saturday morning cartoons from around the world. A large majority of them came from the U.S. The U.S. at the time had most of animated content to offer. Fuji Network approached illustrator Osamu Tezuka about an idea to take one of his creations and make a show for the Japanese audience. Tezuka was not an animator, so he gathered an experienced group of people to help him animate a story based on his robot character. In the beginning of 1963, at the time Tetsuwan Atom was making it’s debut in Japan, a representative from NBC noticed this interesting looking robot character, who he first assumed was an American character. After he learned of who was behind the cartoon, this led to him getting in contact with Fred Ladd to see if he could edit this to show to American audiences. Ladd had previously re-edited and redubbed European cartoons into English.
This turned into what America would know as Astro Boy. Ladd also went on as creative consultant for DiC Entertainment’s original dub of the 1995 anime series Sailor Moon.
To hear more of the journey of bringing Astro Boy and anime to the U.S., here are some interviews to check out.
Interview from 2006:
2016 interview with Nozomi Entertainment:
Co-founder and CEO of The RightStuf International, Shawne Kleckner, wrote a comment on Ladd’s passing:
“Fred Ladd was a true pioneer. His early work with Dr. Tezuka brought anime to North America, as well as popularized a budding industry in Japan. I think you could safely say, without his efforts, we wouldn’t have anime as we do today.
It was an honor to work with him to restore and release these classic works over the years, and I know that it brought him great happiness to see them continue to be enjoyed by new generations of fans.”
Ladd was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1927. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1949 with degrees in radio and speech. Ladd worked as a writer on animated shows including The Incredible Hulk, MASK, and Ghostbusters. He also wrote a book with Harvey Deneroff, titled Astro Boy and Anime Come to the Americas: An Insider’s View of the Birth of a Pop Culture Phenomenon.