April 9 (Reuters) - The goofy voice behind the “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” call for breakfast cereal fell silent Sunday, as comedian and voice actor Chuck McCann died, his publicist said.
“His work was legendary,” said his publicist Edward Lozzi. “What baby boomer doesn’t know cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?”
The Brooklyn, New York, native died of congestive heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital at age 83, Lozzi said.
Showbusiness was in his blood, Lozzi said. He practically grew up in an orchestra pit where his father was a big band leader at New York’s Roxy Theatre. His grandfather also performed in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.
Through his family, McCann was exposed to some of the best comedians of the 1930s and 1940s and he would have his classmates in stitches imitating them at school, Lozzi said.
He got his professional start in local radio and television doing voices, puppetry work and standup comedy. McCann later starred in scores of children’s television programs such as “Lunch with Soupy Sales” and “The Captain Kangaroo Show” and “Rootie Kazootie,” Lozzi said.
McCann later moved to Los Angeles and worked as a character actor on shows including; “Little House on the Prairie”, “Bonanza”, and “Columbo.”
But he is best known for voicing the hungry bird Sonny for General Mills cereal.
“We all grew up with him,” Lozzi said. “He was a pioneer.”
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Fanning, and two daughters. (Reporting by Rich McKay and Kanishka Singh; Editing by Toby Chopra)