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Tributes have poured out from all over the world following the unexpected death of Kirby Morrow.
Kirby, 47, grew up in Jasper and went on to become a successful actor, known around the world for his voiceover and live-action work in popular franchises.
News of Kirby’s death was shared by his brother, Casey Morrow, on Facebook Nov. 19.
He described Kirby as “a blessed and talented individual who brought joy to so many but also thrived off all your love and friendship”.
Casey thanked those who had shared condolences for their love and support. He said he does not know his brother’s cause of death yet.
“The biggest thing (Kirby will be remembered for) is just how good he was at making everybody feel like they were special,” Casey said.
“He loved people. That’s where all of his energy came from.”
Kirby was born in Jasper on Aug. 28, 1973. His brother said as a youngster, Kirby was exactly the same as when he was as an adult.
“He hasn’t changed in 37 years,” Casey said. “Kirby just loved people and was always cracking jokes.”
Kirby was very athletic - playing on all the Jasper Bears hockey teams and competing in badminton at a provincial level. He worked as a lifeguard at Jasper’s pool and was a “typical Jasper kid”, always with a job.
In school, Kirby was successful too. He was president of the student council and gave a speech at his high school graduation ceremony.
“He was really popular,” Casey said. “Kirby was good and included everybody. Even in a small place like Jasper you have cliques and he moved between different peer groups and got along with most people very well.”
Kirby went on to study theatre at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
He had wanted to be a lawyer, Casey said, but took a year off to backpack around Australia and came back with a passion for acting.
“He enjoyed being in the limelight and performing,” Casey said.
Kirby lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, for most of his acting career.
He was known for being the original U.S. voice of Dragon Ball Z hero Goku, the LEGO Ninjago series, and appearing as Captain Dave Kleinman in Stargate Atlantis.
Kirby’s career ramped up in the 1990s when he landed one of his most iconic roles, the voice of Trowa in anime series Gundam Wing, in 1995, and the voice of Michaelangelo on the live-action Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation series on Fox Kids in 1997.
He went on to voice Cyclops in X-Men: Evolution, Miroku in the anime series Inuyasha, Tony Stark in the mini-series Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk and Eternals, and Hot Shot in Transformers: Cybertron. He also had recurring live-action roles on Supergirl and Legion.
Casey said he was incredibly proud of his brother’s career.
“He worked hard at being good at what he did,” Casey said. “One of the things you see come up a lot is how much he gave back. He was an active voice coach and spent a lot of time helping people get started.”
Admiration and respect for Kirby and his work was evident from tributes shared from fans and others in the entertainment industry following news of his death.
VIZ Media, the leading American manga publisher, anime distributor and entertainment company, shared on Twitter, “We’re incredibly sad to hear the news of voice actor Kirby Morrow’s passing. He was an amazing talent and we were honoured to have worked with him on Inuyasha and Yashahime. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
Fellow voiceover artist Scott Frerichs described Kirby as “a voice of many childhoods, an inspiration for many careers, and a friend [to] so, so many people”.
And Dan and Kevin Hageman, brothers who write shows including LEGO Ninjago, wrote: “Our hearts are breaking right now over Kirby Morrow's passing. He's our Cole. He's our rock. His work will live on.”
Closer to home, an outpouring of condolences were shared to the Morrow family on Facebook.
Kirby was described as “a bright light”, “a shining star” and “a special soul”.
Casey asked for people to not gather in Kirby’s memory due to COVID-19, but to organize in groups to share their stories about Kirby via calls, text or Zoom.