Chris Ayres, Frieza in 'Dragon Ball' Series, Dead at 56

Chris Ayres, the voice actor best known for playing Frieza in the Dragon Ball series, has died. Ayres passed away "peacefully" on Monday, Oct. 18 at the age of 56, his girlfriend and fellow actor Krystal LaPorte announced, sharing that the beloved voice actor "passed away peacefully, held close by his mother, brother, and girlfriend."

While LaPorte's statement did not mention a cause of death, Ayres had been diagnosed with end-stage cardiac obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2017. In the years that followed, he was open about his health battles on social media. Back in April, Ayres underwent surgery, informing fans that his "minor surgery turned into a 7-hour major surgery." Prior to that, Ayres underwent a lung transplant. In her statement, LaPorte briefly touched on Ayres' health struggles, sharing, "I hope where you are, the first thing you did was take a long, deep breath with your perfect lungs and danced again."

"Chris loved you all. How much he loved other people filled the vast majority of our conversations," LaPorte continued in a message to fans. "To those of you who truly loved him back, thank you. To those of you who stayed in touch, checked on him, reminded him that he was so, so much more than his job, you were the fuel of his fight. You fed the dreams of a future that kept him going longer than any normal person could go."

Throughout his storied career, Ayres added more than 200 credits to his name, though he was best known for voicing the high-powered villain Freiza in Dragon Ball, a role he took up after joining Funimation's dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai. He remained a part of the franchise for years, ending with the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie. His other credits include Maburaho, Black Butler, Sengoku Basara, Gantz, Tears to Tiara, Fairy Tail, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and many more. He also served as ADR director and scriptwriter for numerous English dubs

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Following his death, fans and co-stars took to social media to pay tribute to Ayres, with Funimation sharing on Twitter, "Rest In Peace, Christopher Ayres. Thank you for all that you've done for so many fans. We'll miss you dearly." Reacting to his passing, Sean Schemmel wrote, "I can't stop crying about the loss of my dear friend and colleague, Chris Ayres. I never thought I'd say this because I used to tease him about it all the time, but thank you Chris, for the Love and Laughter, Always...I'll see you in Otherworld bro, and we'll spar again, Frieza."