In September of 1979 I was 12 years old and entering the 7th grade. By this time, I had moved way past the “patchwork pants” saga and was feeling pretty good about myself. I was wearing the “right” clothes and had the “right” hair. I blended in with everyone else which was A-OK with me. At the time, my sister and I lived in Massachusetts with our Mother and my Dad lived in New York City. He called every Sunday and I always looked forward to it. This particular Sunday he let me know that the cartoon he had been working on, “Star Blazers,” was debuting and that it would be on every weekday at 3:00 pm. Star Blazers was a Japanese anime-style cartoon series that was adapted for American audiences. My Dad was voicing the character of “Eager,” one of the crew members on the space ship, the Argo, as well as voices for some of the villains. Needless to say, my 7th-grade self thought this was REALLY cool.
When the show debuted, I remember being so excited to watch the first episode. The bus dropped me off around 2:30 pm and I raced in the house. I was a “latch-key” kid and was happy to have the house to myself. I kept watching the clock. Finally—3:00! I turned on the TV and flipped to the channel, praying the reception would be good. This was before cable. The show opened with a great theme song and then came a voice-over telling the viewers how many days the Star Blazers had to save Planet Earth. So far, so good. I don’t remember at what point my Dad had a line, but I do remember recognizing his unmistakable voice. The character’s voice had a Southern accent, but I knew right away it was my Dad. “Eager” was chubby and loud and had a big red arrow on his uniform. I laughed out loud when I realized that was my Dad’s character. But I felt proud. Nobody else’s Dad I knew worked on a cartoon. But soon I became annoyed because he wasn’t a main character and didn’t have as many lines. I was so focused on waiting for him to say his next line that I wasn’t really paying attention to the storyline.
For the next few days I watched the show. I got more and more annoyed that my Dad didn’t have a bigger role. You know, teenage angst and all. However, that didn’t stop me from telling a few kids at school that my Dad was doing a voice in a cartoon. I felt an odd satisfaction watching my classmates’ reactions. Their eyes would go wide and I would kind of nod with this expression of “yup, I know, cool, right?” But there was a problem. Because the show was originally from Japan, the names of the American actors voicing the characters didn’t appear in the credits. Days later I received a barrage of “You’re lying!” Ouch. Of course, my friends believed me but there were definitely kids at school who thought I was trying to gain friends or popularity (not sure which) with my “big fat lie.”
Speaking of lies, when my Dad asked me how I liked the show I told him I loved it. But the truth was, after the first week, I would only watch the first five minutes or so and switch over to something more important to me: General Hospital. I felt guilty, but it wasn’t my fault that Star Blazers was on the same time as my favorite soap opera! Every once in awhile my Dad would ask me something about the plotline. “Did you see the part where…?” “Yes! That was really funny!” I’d say, hoping he wouldn’t ask any specific questions. When I saw my Dad during Christmas vacation, he told my sister and I what it was like behind the scenes and what the other actors were like. I was excited for him and very proud, but the guilt of not being a true fan was killing me.
After I graduated high school, I started dating a boy who later became my husband and then ex-husband. We were just getting to know each other and were talking about the shows we liked when we were little. He said, “there was one show…I used to sneak out of school early to see it. I would run home every day so I wouldn’t miss the beginning. Did you ever watch Star Blazers?” He just about died when I told him about my Dad doing the voice of “Eager.” Later, when he met my Dad, he told him how much he loved the show. That scored points, for sure.
Over 20 years after my Dad worked on Star Blazers, something really funny happened. I was at work and went to a meeting in the IT Manger’s office. We were to discuss a new project that I was working on and I needed to get her input. She had to excuse herself for a moment and I was left with a member of her team, Neal. Neal and I were friendly and started chatting. Neal was rather quiet, but he laughed at everything I said which made me like him even more. I don’t know how the subject of childhood shows came up, but we started listing our favorites. At some point Neal said “but my favorite was Star Blazers.” I said very matter-of-factly, “oh my Dad worked on that show.” Neal’s notebook fell on the floor and he became more animated than I had ever seen him. Are you kidding? Oh my God! That show was so important to me as a kid. What character did he play?” I was loving the reaction, but this time not from a point of ego or showing off. I was just happy to see him so excited. “He played ‘Eager’,” I said. “No way!” exclaimed Neal. Soon his manager came back in the room and we had to table the discussion.
That same night I went home and called my Dad to tell him what had happened and how Neal was a huge fan of the show. My Dad got such a kick out of it. I can still hear him laughing. We decided to hatch a plan where he would call Neal’s phone after hours, get his voice mail and leave him a message in “Eager’s” voice. The next day I scribbled down Neal’s number, called my Dad back and gave him the number. The next morning—first thing in the morning—an excited Neal was at my desk, absolutely beaming. He couldn’t believe that my Dad would do this for him. Neal told everyone we worked with. He even found a way to record the voice message so that he could always have it. It was a really special and fun experience and I was so grateful to be a part of it.
A few years before my Dad passed in 2015, I bought the entire Star Blazers series on DVD and surprised my Dad at Christmas. He hadn’t seen it since it went off the air in the early 80s. The whole family watched it, including my daughter. We laughed our heads off as my Dad recounted the stories of recording the show and how much fun he had doing it. Now if you go on IMDb, Star Blazers is listed, but my Dad’s name isn’t. He stopped doing voice work after Star Blazers. His character’s name isn’t even listed in the cast. Although his character wasn’t a major role, “Eager” was a part of the crew and appeared in every episode. If I look through IMDb I see all the names of the actors my Dad told us about. But of course, most of them are still doing voice work today, so it makes sense that their names are listed. But it makes me sad. I still have no way to prove it. But it doesn’t matter. I know the truth. Now you do too. My Dad’s name is Patrick Lohn and he voiced the character of “Eager” in Star Blazers. Here’s to my Dad, now living among the stars.