One last celebrity death hit us at the tail end of 2017 when Jim French, a long-time Valve voice actor who gave us the mad priest Father Grigori and the crotchety Vietnam War veteran Bill, died on December 30 at the age of 89. French was also a radio host and production company owner.
Bill and Father Grigori are two of Valve’s most notable characters, as both make up for being stuck in horrific situations (Bill being stuck in a zombie apocalypse with a trio of other somewhat-ordinary people, while Grigori is stuck in a town overrun with headcrab zombies) by being extremely badass even for their age. Considering that in the Left 4 Dead universe Bill ended up sacrificing himself to allow Zoe, Louis, and Francis to escape zombies, the voice actor also dying also hits fans hard.
Along with Bill and Grigori, Jim French also played other roles in Valve games like the Elder Titan in DOTA 2, and The Fisherman in Half Life 2: Lost Coast, a cut level of Half Life 2 that also served as a technology demonstration for the game. In that level, Gordon has to travel up the coast to destroy a Combine artillery piece that is bombarding a nearby town. The level also contains a number of minor story details.
In addition to various voice-acting roles at Valve, French also was a radio host and producer who ran a show called the Imagination Theatre for two Seattle radio stations: KIRO and KIXI. He also owned a production house, also called the Imagination Theatre, which helped to create a number of other radio programs over the years.
While Valve hasn’t developed any other games in the Left 4 Dead series or the Half-Life series, at least those of us that play MOBA games will still be able to hear Jim French and his dulcet tones as the Elder Titan hero.
In the meantime, our thoughts are with Mr. French’s friends and family during this difficult time.