Thunderbirds TV series co-creator and co-writer Sylvia Anderson has died at the age of 88. In addition to creating that series with her then-husband, Gerry Anderson, Ms. Anderson voiced Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward on the children’s puppet show.
Anderson’s other TV series work includes voice roles on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, and The Secret Service. In 2015, ITV Studios and Pukeko created an animated reboot of Thunderbirds, called Thunderbirds are Go. Anderson voiced the character of Great Aunt Sylvia, in the “Designated Driver” episode. Amazon announced it picked up the series, last month.
From the BBC:
Born in south London to a boxing promoter and a dressmaker, Sylvia Anderson graduated from the London School of Economics with a degree in sociology and political science.
She spent several years in the US and worked as a journalist before returning to the UK and joining a TV production company, where she met her future husband.
When he started his own company, AP Films, she joined him, and the couple began making puppet shows.
They developed a production technique using electronic marionette puppets, called Supermarionation, in which the voices were recorded first, and when the puppets were filmed, the electric signal from the taped dialogue was hooked up to sensors in the puppets’ heads.
That made the puppets’ lips move perfectly in time with the soundtrack.
In 1963, the couple came up with the idea for Thunderbirds, which told the story of the Tracy family who form a secret organisation dedicated to saving human life, set in the future.
As well as co-creating and writing the series, Anderson worked on character development and costume design.
The character of Lady Penelope, a glamorous agent, was modelled on Anderson’s own appearance, and she also provided her characteristic aristocratic voice.
The success of Thunderbirds led to two feature films and a toy and merchandise empire.
Born Sylvia Beatrice Thomas, in South London, England, she married American golfer Jack Brooks in 1946. They had a daughter, Jacqueline Dee. The couple divorced after four years. Her second marriage to George Thamm in 1952 ended in divorce, as well.
Reports vary on whether she married Anderson in 1959 or 1960. Their son, Gerald, Jr. was born in 1967. The couple divorced in 1981. Gerald, Sr. passed away on Boxing Day, in 2012.
Ms. Anderson would go on to work as a talent scout for HBO in UK. The BBC says she eventually became head of programming for HBO in the UK. In addition to her children, she leaves behind four grand-children and one great-granddaughter.
We invite you to remember Ms. Anderson and her career, below.