Richard Ferrone passed away in October 2022.
When Richard Ferrone died of pancreatic cancer in October 2022, the audiobook world lost a good man, a consummate actor, and an unforgettable voice. “When I first heard him, I thought, ‘I have got to cast this man as soon as possible,’” recalls audiobook director and producer Paul Ruben. “It was such an individual sound. A deep, resonant bass that rumbled. I said to myself, ‘Any book with a gun and a bad guy, Richard’s my man.’ What was so wonderful, though, is that he had the acting ability to back up the voice. Plus, he could perform any of the characters.”
A graduate of Boston College of Law, Richard Ferrone began his professional life as a labor lawyer before making the switch to acting in the 1970s. He appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theater, and on television before embracing audiobook narration in the early 2000s. While Ferrone, who won an Audie and multiple Earphones Awards, narrated everything from history to children’s books to contemporary nonfiction, he was most associated with the kind of books that Ruben thought of when he heard Ferrone’s voice.
Beginning with his first audiobook, Loren D. Estleman’s Western, THE STRANGLERS, Ferrone brought emotional depth and nuance to a host of tough guys. He was commended for his resonance in Lawrence Block’s series about Bernie Rhodenbarr, a witty and ethical thief, and his pulse-pounding performances in Steven James ‘s series about FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers. He also “perfectly complemented” Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled style in RED HARVEST. Long associated with the bestselling detective novels of John Sandford, Ferrone recorded the most recent titles just this year. His performance of RIGHTEOUS PREY, the thirty-second volume of Sandford’s series about U.S. Marshal Lucas Davenport, was lauded for its perfect attunement to the book’s pace and tone. His narration of THE INVESTIGATOR, the first in Sandford’s new series about the marshal’s daughter, was praised for its distinctive characterizations.
“Richard was an actor with whom I always looked forward to working,” says Ruben. “He was completely committed to the craft of acting. Not the ego trip, but the craft. On a scale of one to ten, his commitment was a thousand. He brought focus and concentration into the recording studio, and he always worked to connect to the characters, to understand them deeply.”
Outside the studio, Ruben says that the narrator of tough guys had a huge smile and was simply fun. He remembers dinners that he and his wife, Paula, shared with Ferrone and his wife, actress Cynthia Darlow, during which conversation and laughter flowed. “As a couple, Richard and Cynthia were a delight. They had such enormous respect and love for each other that they made others happy.
“Richard was talented, hardworking, and kind. That’s all true and important to say,” says Ruben. “But what I’ll always remember is how engaging he was. You felt lucky to spend time with him because he was genuinely interested in other people and the world around him. Richard listened. He paid attention. And he cared.”--Aurelia C. Scott
2001 Narrator Yearbook--Richard gave up law for the stage, where as an audiobook narrator he has a penchant for action and derring-do. That quality, plus his romanticism and his gritty, masculine voice, makes him ideal for the tough detective novel—particularly Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr books. “I like the tongue-in-cheek private eye stuff,” he says. “It’s the wry dialogue.” He’s logged many mic hours on mean streets—including those stalked by the Antichrist in the postapocalyptic Left Behind series. Richard is best in the first person, when we’re getting the story and the other characters via the sensibility of our hero, whom Richard seems to inhabit completely. A science-fiction fan, he is currently finishing Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. ��
Ocean Prey AudioFile Best of 2021 Mystery & suspense
Hey, Kiddo �Audie Award 2020 Young Adult
�Red Harvest AudioFile Best of 2011 Mystery & Suspense
Head Wounds AudioFile Best of 2010 Mystery & Suspense
The Sign AudioFile Best of 2009 Science Fiction
Wicked Prey AudioFile Best of 2009 Mystery & Suspense
Black Mask Audio Magazine, Vol. 1: Classic Hard-Boiled Tales from the Original Black Mask AudioFile Best of 2009 Mystery & Suspense
Dead Street AudioFile Best of 2008 Mystery & Suspense
Photo by Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via-Getty Images
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