Last week, the sad news that impressionist and friend Steve Bridges passed away at the age of 48. He had recently flown home from China, and was complaining of extreme jet lag, but it is as yet unknown why he collapsed.
I met Steve about ten years ago on a pilot for a show featuring impressionists called “Headlines”, and at that time I recognized him to be an excellent mimic and improvisor/comedian. I owe my present Tom Brokaw impression in part to him, since his own version of the news anchor’s mushy delivery was so amusing to me that I began to focus on it myself.
I last ran into Steve at The Tonight Show a couple of years back, where I was doing some voiceover of some celebrity while he was appearing, in full makeup, (by the talented Kevin Haney) as President G.W. Bush. His dedication to the presidential characters he did involved the costly and time-consuming steps of having top makeup artists create prosthetics and wigs that he would have to have applied before each appearance. He managed to develop that into a very lucrative business and travelled the world performing Bush, Obama, Clinton and others.
He told me at that time, which must have been early in 2009, that he was next going to tackle Obama, in full makeup, as he had done so successfully with G. W. Bush. Inside, I have to admit, I winced. I didn’t see how he was going to pull that off. But, as I was to discover, he pulled it off better than anyone else.
Contributing to that successful rendition was the brilliant makeup artist and sculptor Kazuhiro Tzuji, with whom I had the pleasure to work with at Rick Baker’s studio for The Grinch.
Although he specialized in presidents, Steve Bridges also had a large collection of celebrity voices in his bag of tricks, some 200 or so, which is a LOT. I never got to spend as much time as I wanted to with Steve, but he was always very friendly and charitable to me, and I am disappointed that we won’t have an opportunity to collaborate again… any time soon. I’m a great believer in the “Unvanquishability” of the human spirit, so I would not say that he is lost to us forever, and I look forward to enjoying his talents again. In the meantime, there are many terrific performances of Steve on his YouTube Channel that I highly recommend you check out and enjoy.