David Frederick Case

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David Case

David Frederick Case (April 25, 1932 - October 1, 2005), alias Frederick Davidson, was a prolific narrator of over 700 audiobooks.[1] He was one of the first inductees into the "Golden Voice" hall of fame started by the trade publication AudioFile.[2]

Early life[edit]

Case was born in London on April 25, 1932 to a father who made tombstones during the Great Depression.[2] As a child he enjoyed mimicking actors and he was later awarded a singing scholarship to St Edward's School, Oxford.[3] After graduating he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to be an actor.[2] He worked with a repertory company in northern England, and made about 13 TV appearances between 1959 and 1964, including as "Bob" on the BBC show Maigret (1962) for one episode, but his acting career was not overly successful playing minor and occasional roles.[2][3][4]


In 1976, he moved to San Francisco with his companion, Graham Watts.[2][1] They had a business in Oakland importing antiques.[5][3] In his spare time, he directed community theater productions, including one show that included British-born actress Wanda McCaddon who became friendly with Case. McCaddon, who was working at Books on Tape at the time, introduced him to the world of audiobook narration, an industry which was coming into maturity during the 1980s.[2][6] "When he found out I was doing books on tape, he said, 'That sounds like something I'd like to do'", McCaddon remembered.[3]

Sigrid Hecht, co-founder of Books on Tape, was initially skeptical of his breathy interpretations.[2] However he would excel at British works, recording 13 novels by Anthony Trollope, 36 by P. G. Wodehouse and the entire "Forsyte" chronicles by John Galsworthy.[2] He worked as a freelance artist mostly for Books on Tape and Blackstone Audio during the 1980s and 1990s.[2] Depending on the publisher, he recorded as David Case (Books on Tape), Frederick Davidson (Blackstone), Edward Raleigh, James Nelson, and Ian McKay.[1][3]

Case was a popular narrator, "Readers said, 'Give me anything by Frederick Davidson,'" recalled Lysa Williams of Blackstone Audio.[3] AudioFile editor and founder, Robin Whitten, said Case recorded three times as many books as most other performers.[2] Some listeners found his style off-putting, "the most frequent criticism is that he sounds snooty and that his Continental accents all sound the same — sort of Austro-Hungarian", observed Katherine Powers.[7] But he had fans, the Washington Post obituary by Adam Bernstein said "The English-born, classically trained Mr. Case was among the finest".[2] He was nominated for a Grammy Award and received numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards.[1]


Case, a lifelong smoker, developed throat cancer in 2000 but kept recording, though his output slowed.[2] He refused to stop smoking and doctors were forced to remove his larynx in May 2005, after which he lost his voice entirely.[3] He died at his home in El Sobrante, California on October 1, 2005, unable to utter a sound.[2][3] Case once said, "I really believe I was born to record audiobooks."[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Talking with David Case". AudioFile. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Adam Bernstein (October 5, 2005). "David Case, 73, Dies; Actor in Audio Books". Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Michael Taylor (October 8, 2005). "David Case -- audio book voice". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "David Case (VII) (1932–2005)". IMDb. Retrieved December 31, 2017.
  5. ^ "David Case, 73; Actor Was the Voice of Hundreds of Books on Audiotape". Los Angeles Times. October 14, 2005. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Virgil L. P. Blake (1990). "Something New Has Been Added: Aural Literacy and Libraries". Information Literacies for the Twenty-First Century. G. K. Hall & Co. pp. 203–218. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  7. ^ Katherine Powers (August 2, 2005). "Book World Live". Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2017.