Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Zarem was one of the most famous comic voices in the world, best known for his popular role as DJ Harry “Superflack” Edge on US TV’s The Carol Burnett Show. The show ended its TV run in 1977, but he continued to entertain fans with his radio and television appearances. On top of this, he also provided the voices for characters such as Rhino, on cartoon series Gargoyles; Doctor Crystal, on Planet Hulk TV; the great Zazee, on Animaniacs; and leading man Dr Easy Tony in the classic video game The Legend of Zelda.
The British production company the Handsome Family not only produced many of Zarem’s early radio shows, but they also released a number of Zarem’s animated creations as collections of his animations and videos on their label Underline. The studio, now renamed Recorded Heroes, worked closely with Zarem over the course of several years, working on the soundtrack to the independent comic Ziff Brothers, the series the Handsome Family produced with the National Film Board of Canada as a B-movie (called Toronto Beware). All of these included Zarem’s music and vocals.
As well as these releases, Zarem’s work has also been featured on other album collections, such as the 1980 album The Best of Bobby Z, the 1985 album The Zags, and the collection of Zazee TV shows called Zazee III! Zandë, The Zazee Years, and Zafar, Golden Age II (a compilation of Zafar side projects and TV and film projects, which can be seen in the film The Time Warp). The film Zafar is scheduled to premiere at this year’s Sundance film festival.
Zarem was featured frequently on telly, on radio, and online. He received the Walter Winchell Award, a comedy award presented by the United Church of Christ, and several honours, including the Order of Merit of the Jamaican Government and the Order of Caribbean Service. As well as the Rolling Stones, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, and Frank Sinatra, Zarem was also friends with four other famous comedians; Jack Benny, Peter Sellers, Jonathan Winters, and Rodney Dangerfield.
Zarem is survived by his wife Sista Angelina, and his four children.
You can read more obituaries here, and watch videos of Zarem’s best TV moments here.