Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Marvin Miller: The Actor Who Voiced Robby the Robot, Japanese Science Fiction and More!

From January 19,1955 through June 7, 1960, Marvin Miller, was recognized by my generation of television viewers, as the fictional "Michael Anthony". Who gave average people a check for One-Million-Dollars from the unseen fictional philanthropist, "John Bereford Tipton", voiced by actor Paul Frees, on the television show, "The Millionaire". This is a selected look at the work of a forgotten character and voice actor.





Marvin Mueller was born July 18, 1913, in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from "Washington University". Where he had been part of their dramatic arts program and worked as a voice actor on a local radio station, He moved to Chicago and began working as an radio announcer and was moved, my station management, to several major programs.

Once there was a radio network known as the "Blue Network", from 1927 through 1945, that would be folded into the newly created "NBC Radio Network". In 1942, Marvin Miller, was the announcer for the "Blue Network's" radio detective show, "The Whistler". In 1944 he moved to Hollywood and among his announcing positions was Frank Sinatra's, "Songs of Sinatra", weekly radio program.

Miller's voice was heard on other radio programs as he moved to motion picture narration and animated characters starting in 1944. 

Marvin Miller's first on-screen role was the narrator for the 13 minute, 1944 animated short, "Hell-Bent for Election". He voiced a villainous "Thomas E. Dewey" supporter sprite. That was attempting to derail "President Franklin D. Roosevelt's" campaign train. The short was made by Charles M. Jones, who became better known as animator Chuck Jones. 



On April 26 1945, James Cagney starred in "Blood on the Sun", from United Artists. This was the story of a fictional American newspaper man, in 1929 Japan, that discovers a plan by the real life "Baron Giichi Tanaka", played by John Emery, to conqueror the world. The plan was real! The leading Japanese roles, including Army "Colonel Hideki Tojo", played by Robert Armstrong, are all by Caucasian actors. Marvin Miller portrayed the role of "Yamada".


Above  Marvin Miller as "Yamata"

My article: "ROBERT ARMSTRONG: It Wasn't All 'The Eighth the Wonder of the World', His Brat, or 'Joe". About the actor who portrayed "Carl Denham", in 1933's "King Kong", is found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2020/08/robert-armstrong-it-wasnt-all-eighth.html

On October 25, 1945, Miller portrayed his first on-screen villain, "George 'Gustsy' Gustafson". The man behind George Raft's, "Johnny Angel's", father's merchant ship being highjacked and the crew disappearing. 



Above Marvin Miller and Claire Trevor as his wife, "Lilah 'Lilly' Gustafson", in the RKO motion picture, "Johnny Angel".

Below, Miller, as the fake medium, "Dr. Nejino", in the "Boston Blackie" 1946 mystery "The Phantom Thief".


Among other films, saw Marvin Miller as "Krause", in the 1947 Humphrey Bogart and Lizbeth Scott crime film, "Dead Reckoning".



Another had him as "Vince Blair", in the 1947 adaptation of Raymond Chandler's "The Brasher Doubloon".


Still was the 1947 crime film, "Intrique", portraying "Ramon Perez", and starring George Raft. 



Next, came the first of many television appearances for the actor, "Mysteries of Chinatown". He portrayed "Dr. Yat Fu", the proprietor of an Chinatown herb shop and amateur detective. The series ran from December 4, 1949 through October 23, 1950 and featured Keye Luke.

In 1950 the actor narrated his second animated cartoon, "Gerald McBoing-Boing". Which was based upon a story by Dr. Seuss and about a boy who speaks only through sound effects. The cartoon won the "Oscar" for Best Animated short.



Miller's ability to sound like different nationalities was prominently seen in Asian roles. Such as  "Bok-Ying" in 1951's "Smuggler's Island" and "Kwon", below, in 1951's "Peking Express" starring Joseph Cotton and Corinne Calvert.



In October 1951, the movie audience saw Marvin Miller as "Genghis Khan", the leader of "The Golden Horde", in a movie of that title starring Ann Blyth and David Farrar.




RED PLANET MARS released May 15, 1952



A June 16, 1952 review, from "The New York Times", "Red Planet Mars", included the following about the pictures cast:
Peter Graves and Andrea King are serious and competent, if slightly callow in appearance, as the indomitable scientists. Marvin Miller is standard as a top Soviet agent, as are Walter Sande, Richard Powers and Morris Ankrum, as Government military men, and Willis Bouchey, as the President. 

The plot, today, has been compared to Ed Woods' "Plan 9 from Outer Space", but looking at it through the eyes of 1952 Americans. The plot is a reflection of the "The Second Red Scare" during the "McCarthy Era".

Basically, a husband and wife astronomer team have constructed a giant hydrogen power radio transmitter and receiver. The two have photographic evidence of environmental changes on the surface of Mars that suggest intelligent life. To this point the story sounds like any other early 1950's Science Fiction movie, but then the twist comes.

"Variety", May 15, 1952, said of "Red Planet Mars":

Despite its title, Red Planet Mars takes place on terra firma, sans space ships, cosmic rays or space cadets. It is a fantastic concoction [from a play by John L. Balderston and John Hoare] delving into the realms of science, politics, religion, world affairs and Communism... 

The husband and wife have apparently made contact with the "Red Planet", but as the messages come in. It becomes apparent, to the world's religions, that the two may be speaking to God, himself. This will lead to mass hysteria upsetting the world order , the Soviet Union's leadership fighting its people turning away from Joseph Stalin and the Communist Party and back to God.




Above Peter Graves and Andrea King. Below, Marvin Miller as the Soviet chief investigator "Arjenian" and Herbert Berghof as "Franz Calder".



"Red Planet Mars" is part of my look at 1950's Science Fiction in: "Invaders from Mars, Except When They Came from Venus, or Planet X". You can read this at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/07/invaders-from-mars-except-when-they.html


On May 17, 1952, Marvin Miller made his first appearance on the Science Fiction television program "Space Patrol". That Gene Roddenberry created with inspiring "Star Trek". The live production, came from the same sound stage Lon Chaney made "The Phantom of the Opera" at Universal Studios.  


Above Marvin Miller as the evil "Dr. Proteus" with Ed Kemmer. As "Buzz Corry" the "Commander and Chief of the Space Patrol". 

Miller appeared in 14 episodes of the show between 1952 and 1954. 9 of them as "Dr. Proteus".

"Space Patrol" is part of my article: "Boldly Going Before Kirk and Spock 1950's TV Science Fiction" at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/12/boldly-going-before-kirk-and-spock.html 




Two of the productions Marvin Miller worked upon, after his 6th "Space Patrol" appearance, were as a voice actor. The programs were his second "Gerald McBoing-Boing" animated short. Along with a story about a boy who could change himself into a chicken, "Christopher Crumpet". In which he provided all the voices, but the title character's mother.



Above is a still from "Christopher Crumpet".


On February 12, 1954, Fernando Lamas, Rhonda Fleming and Brian Keith starred in the 3-D adventure "Jivaro". With heavy make-up, Marvin Miller portrayed "Jivaro Chief Kovanti".



Five short subjects later, and as mentioned above, on January 19, 1955, Miller started playing "Michael Anthony" for the first of 206 episodes of "The Millionaire".

Next came three shorts, that utilized Marvin Miller's baritone radio announcer's voice as a narrator. They included another "Gerald McBoing Boing" cartoon. Along with an appearance on the long-forgotten anthology drama series, "Cavalcade of America", in May 1955. All to be followed by the actor narrating a low budget Science Fiction motion picture.

KING DINOSAUR released June 17, 1955

 

Don't let the above poster mislead you as to what the title Tyrannosaurus Rex really looked like. This was the first motion picture directed by Bert I. Gordon and the second motion picture he produced. Stock footage from Hal Roach's 1940 "One Million B.C." was used. Along with stock footage of actual military maneuvers. 

The cast consisted of only four on-screen actors and the film depended highly upon the narration of Marvin Miller to move things along. The plot was set in 1960 and the astronauts are sent to the newly discovered planet of "Nova" in its Jurassic Age.



"King Dinosaur" was followed by a third "Gerald McBoing-Boing", his second "Christopher Crumpet" and two other shorts that the actor both narrated and voiced characters. Then came a piece of Science Fiction trivia.

FORBIDEN PLANET released March 3, 1956



Actors Walter Pidgeon as "Dr. Edward Morbius", Anne Francis as "Altaira 'Alta' Morbius" and Leslie Nielsen as "Commander John J. Adams" might have been Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's stars, but it was "Robby the Robot" that viewers talked about.


"Robby" had actor Frankie Darro inside. Darro started acting in 1924 and co-starred with Gene Autry, against the evil "Mu Empire", in 1935's Modern Western, "The Phantom Empire". He was the voice of Lampwick" in Walt Disney's 1940 "Pinocchio" among a total of 184 career roles.

Making "Robby" move was one problem, but making him talk and sound just right was another for director Fred M. Wilcox.


The voice chosen was Marvin Miller's baritone. Although, the on-screen credits state that:

"Robby the Robot" played by Himself
A year later, on October 18, 1957, "Robby the Robot" would be back in "THE INVISIBLE BOY". He would be found in pieces in a junk room and Richard Eyer's, the Genie in the following years Ray Harryhausen "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad", "Timmie Merrinoe", puts him together.

While the "Official Cast Listing" reads:

Robby the Robot" by "Robby

It also lists Marvin Miller as the voice of "Robby the Robot".


My article on Richard Eyer's film career and that of Charles Herbert, 1958's "The Fly" and 1960's "13 Ghosts", "Richard Eyer and Charles Herbert: Youthful Actors" may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/06/richard-eyer-and-charles-herbert-child.html

Besides "Forbidden Planet", Marvin Miller, was one of four narrators of a semi-documentary, released May 9. 1956, based upon the Air Force "Project Sign" and "Project Blue Book" investigations that Americans read about in local newspapers.

UFO: UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS: THE TRUE STORY OF FLYING SAUCERS



The picture was the idea of motion picture and television producer Clarence Greene. Who claimed to have seen a twisting object flying in the sky and spoke to Air Force Public Relations Officer Albert M Chop, who appears in the picture, for information. 

The feature used declassified Air Force films, footage with people interviewed for "Project Blue Book", and recreated footage.

The narrators, besides Marvin Miller were:

John Brown, Alfred Hitchcock's 1951 "Strangers on the Train" and 1953's low budget 3-D Science Fiction picture "Robot Monster". In which he portrayed the title character. 

Olan Soule, televisions "Captain Midnight", 1954 through 1956, and the animated "The Adventures of Batman", 1968 through 1969, as the voice of "Bruce Wayne/Batman". 

Les Tremayne, producer George Pal's 1953 "War of the Worlds" and 1959's "The Angry Red Planet".


Miller would voice another 1956 alien in "Destination Earth". This was a 13-minute animated short piece of advertising for the Petroleum Industry. The Martian Emperor "Ogg". voiced by the actor, sends a bumbling subordinate to find a better source of power for the royal limousine. He discovers that average Americans have "powerful and reliable automobiles". He goes to the library to research what makes Earth automobiles so powerful? Then returns to Mars with stolen library books on the oil companies and reports his finding. This causes the average Martian to abandoned the Emperor to set up their own oil companies.




The voice actor now narrated the 26 episodes of the animated 1956 "Gerald McBoing-Boing Show".




THE DEADLY MANTIS released May 26, 1957


This was a low budgeted Science Fiction entry from producer William Alland, 1953's "It Came from Outer Space", the "Creature from the Black Lagoon" trilogy and 1955's "This Island Earth" and "Tarantula".

The movie was directed by Nathan Juran, Ray Harryhausen's 1957 "20 Million Miles to Earth", 1958's "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and 1964's "First Men in the Moon". A pet project of Juran's was 1958's "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman". 
My article: "Nathan H. Juran: A Look at the Work of the Man Who was an Art Director for John Ford, Directed Live Action for Ray Harryhausen and Wrote Screenplays for Fess Parker" may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/05/nathan-h-juran-look-at-work-of-man-who.html 

Craig Stevens portrayed Army "Colonel Joe Parkman". He had been 4th billed in 1953's "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" behind Boris Karloff and was one year away from his defining role as producer Blake Edward's television detective "Peter Gunn".

Alix Talton portrayed "Marge Blaine". She started acting in 1941 and moved to television roles 10 years later. 

William Hopper portrayed "Dr. Nedrick Jackson". This film would be followed by Ray Harryhauen's "20 Million Miles to Earth" and on September 21, 1957, Hooper would first play investigator "Paul Drake" on the "Perry Mason" television show.

 

Above Hopper, Talton and Stevens. Below the subject of the motion picture.



 

The opening prologue is narrated by Marvin Miller. In it, he gives the audience a history of the "DEW Line (Distance Early Warning Line)" that was composed of radar stations in the Arctic regions of Canada. There were other radar stations on Canada's North Coast and in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska. For those of my readers unfamiliar with the line's purpose. It was designed to give the United States an early warning of a pending attack by the Soviet Union. Juran uses stock footage from the Air Force and animation from a Government film about the line. 




"The Deadly Mantis" is just one of the 1950's Insect movies in my article: "THEM!", "TARANTULA", "THE MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL", "THE DEADLY MANTIS", "THE BEGINNING OF THE END", "THE BLACK SCORPION" and "THE EARTH VS THE SPIDER": In the 1950's Insects Bugged America" found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/03/them-tarantula-monster-from-green-hell.html


On November 8, 1957, producer, director and co-screenplay writer Irwin Allen released an All-Star Box Office flop entitled "The Story of Mankind".


The names of some of the actors that recreated, per Allen, historical events from the past are on the above poster. Playing "The Spirit of Mankind", was Roland Coleman. Who fights for man's survival against "Mr. Scratch", played by Vincent Price.


Besides appearing on television in "The Millionaire". Marvin Miller started 1958 with appearances on two of programs. They were the Rod Cameron and Robert Armstrong syndicated "State Trooper" and an episode of "The Jack Benny Program". 

Between these two television shows, the actor narrated a forgotten and mostly overlooked Adventure motion picture. "Manhunt in the Jungle", released April 11, 1958.



The picture was about the search for British geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist and explorer "Colonel P.H. Fawcett". Who disappeared in the Amazon jungle in 1925 searching for "The Lost City of Z". The screenplay follows British pioneer aviator, cinematographer and explorer, "Commander George Miller Dyott's" expedition to find Fawcett.


In 1954 Japan's Toho Studio's produced and released an anti-nuclear war Kaiju motion picture entitled "Gojira".


Then in 1955 Toho produced and released a sequel entitled "Gojira no gyakushu (Gojira's Counterattack)". 


A year after the sequel was released in Japan. Five American businessman, took the original 1954 feature, re-edited it, dubbed the kept Japanese sequences into English, added American footage of actor Raymond Burr and released 1956's "Godzilla, King of the Monsters". 


Now through a series of events, Warner Brothers Studios acquired the 1955 sequel. The studio already had a screenplay from Ib Melchior for "The Volcano Monsters", but changed their plans and wanted "Gojira's Counterattack" to become Melchior's more costly screenplay. The writer was instructed to make the necessary changes. Although, characters would remain, the final English language version, could not be a sequel to the 1954 film. So the name of the Kaiju were changed and this film became--

GIGANTIS THE FIRE MONSTER released May 21, 1959


The original Ib Melchior screenplay required new footage with American leads to be shot and then insert Japanese footage from 1955 as was done in 1956. That screenplay was scrubbed by Warner Brothers. Another writer was brought in, because the studio still thought the film would be very expensive. 
The idea, now, was to combine parts of Melchior's screenplay with a straight dubbing of the original Japanese film. Marvin Miller was brought in to narrate key sequences. That Warner Brothers believed would change the original Toho Story line into a completely new motion picture. When released, audiences, familiar with the 1956 American release, but not being aware there was an original 1954 Japanese film. Wrote their local newspapers and "Famous Monsters of Filmland" asking if "Gigantis" was really 1956's "Godzilla"? I know, because I was one.


On December 25, 1959 , Walt Disney released his animated classic "Sleeping Beauty". Marvin Miller, without credit, provided opening narration and at other points within the story.



Marvin Miller finished his run as "Michael Anthony" with the cancelation of "The Millionaire" and used his voice talents in 1960's "Inside Magoo". Jim Backus, as always, provided the voice of the title character. In 1961 Miller was seen in his second episode of televisions "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" and an episode of "Bat Masteron" starring Gene Barry.

On July 8, 1961, Japan Toei Studio's 1958 animated feature "White Snake Den", was released in its English language dub as "Panda and the Magic Serpent". The tale was narrated by Miller.



Next, Marvin Miller was narrating the opening set up for the Dean Fredricks, televisions comic page hero "Lieutenant Commander Steve Canyon", new motion picture "The Phantom Planet", released on December 13, 1961. In 1962 and 1963 the actor only had four roles. 

In 1964 Marvin Miller began his voice work for 14 episodes, into 1965, on "The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo". Along with another voice part as "Abdul Kaseem", in "Riddle of the Gold", on the "Johnny Quest" animated series.

Then there was the English language version of the 1959 Soviet Union/Finnish motion picture "Camo (Sampo)" released in the United States, in April 1964, as "The Day the Earth Froze".


The movie was based upon Finnish mythology and was shot in both Finnish and Russian. For the English language re-edit and dubbing. The names of the actors were Westernized and the running time cut by 24 minutes. Without Marvin Miller's narration, the picture would be a complete lost. The picture has an evil witch and her trolls, a beautiful princess and of course a handsome hero.




"The Day the Earth Froze" was part of my article: "Five Influential Soviet Block Science Fiction Movies" that you may find at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/02/a-look-at-five-of-my-favorite-1960s.html


1965 started with Marvin Miller giving the opening narration to Sam Peckinpah's "Major Dundee" starring Charlton Heston and Richard Harris. The actor would do the narration for another 1965 Charlton Heston feature co-starring Rex Harrison. This was the motion picture version of author Irving Stone's biographical novel about "Michelangelo", "The Agony and the Ecstasy". He ended 1965 with the Natalie Wood, Christopher Plummer and Robert Redford movie, "Inside Daisy Clover", as, what else, the narrator.

From September 18, 1966 through April 24, 1974, Marvin Miller narrated 185 episodes of televisions "The F.B.I." starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. and Philip Abbott from "The Invisible Boy".

In 1966 Marvin Miller portrayed a "T.V. Announcer" on televisions "Batman" and in 1967 he was a "T.V. News Reporter" on televisions "The Green Hornet". That same year he provided the voice for "Aquaman", both on the animated series "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" and the "Aquaman" straight animated series. Miller also was the "Race Announcer" in the 1967 movie, "Hell On Wheels", starring Country/Western singer Marty Robbins as a race car driver. Robbins actually was a NASCAR race driver at the time.

Back on October 8, 1961, Toho Studios released, in Japan, "Sekai Daisenso (The Great World War)". About the "Cold War" evolving into "World War 3".




On January 8, 1967, the English dubbed version, on VHS, was released in the United States as "The Last War".


Both Marvin Miller and Paul Frees provided English language voices to the dubbed version that had also added American actors. 

At this time Marvin Miller's voice acting started to be regularly used on different animated televisioncseries through 1969. These included "The Pink Panther", for 9 episodes, and then he moved to narrating "The Pink Panther Show". Others included "The Lone Ranger", three recurring characters in 17 episodes of "Fantastic Voyage" and episodes of "The Fantastic Four".

In April 1970 Miller starred in a low, low, low budget Horror movie first entitled "Is This Trip Really Necessary?", but became known more for the Japanese titles translation as "Blood of the Iron Maiden". 



Miller portrayed "Claude", an insane movie director. He is aided by "Dr. Goolie", played by John Carradine, who gives LSD to aspiring actresses before the two murder them using an Iron Maiden. 

Back on December 19, 1965,  Toho Studio released "Kaiju Dasisenso (The Giant Monster War)" in a co-production agreement with "United Productions of America (UPA)". This was the first of three films and featured "Gojira", "Radon" and a new Kaiju named "Kingu Gidora".



On July 29, 1970, the English dub of the motion picture was released as:

MONSTER ZERO aka: INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER





The motion picture co-starred American actor Nick Adams as "Astronaut Glenn Amer" (Short for American?). Who was called in the Japanese version, "Nikku Adamusu", and voiced by Goro Naya.

Japanese actor Akira Takarada co-starred as "Astronaut K. Fuji". Takarada was voiced in the English language dub by Marvin Miller.




Marvin Miller would appear on television dramas five times between 1971 and 1972. Then came the dubbing of a French animated Science Fiction film and winner of the "Grand Prix special jury prize" at the "Cannes Film Festival", on May 11, 1973.

LA PLANETE SAUAGE (THE WILD PLANET) aka; THE FANTASTIC PLANET




The English language dub was released in the United States on December 1, 1973 and voice actor Marvin Miller spoke the lines of both the "Great Tree Chief" and "Master Kon".

On December 29, 1973, Toho Studios released "Nihnon Chinbotsu (Japan Sinks)".


The original Japanese production had a running time of 2 hours and 23 minutes. In 1975, Roger Corman purchased the American rights from Toho, removed footage, added new with American actors and the film became "Tidal Wave". Now starring Lorne Greene as the American Ambassador to Japan, "Warren Richards", at a running time of 1 hour and 22 minutes.


I could not locate what role Marvin Miller portrayed in the Roger Corman version of the Shiro Moritani motion picture.

Also in 1975, the actor provided the voice of "Zarn", on Sid and Marty Krofft's "Land of the Lost".


Anyone remember 1976's "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl"? Probably not, as it ran for a total of 16 episodes and was cancelled.


Anyway, Miller was the narrator.

In July 1977, Bert I. Gordon did his "THEM!", with Joan Collins and Robert Lansing called "Empire of the Ants". The title was so that he could call the picture an H.G. Wells story, but somewhere in the film is "Just A Voice" provided by Marvin Miller.


On October 6, 1978 Marvin Miller had 6th billing as "Beamer" in "The Deadly Sting" episode of Lynda Carter's "Wonder Woman".


Five years after Andrew Lloyd Webber released the concept album that became his 1978 musical "Evita" and Fifteen years before singer Madonna turned that musical into a motion picture. There was a 1981 made for television movie entitled "Evita Perlon". The film starred actress Faye Dunaway and actor James Farentino.


Buried with 39th billing was Marvin Miller typed cast as a "Radio Actor".

Miller followed "Evita Peron" with a low budgeted 1981 "R" rated Horror movie, "Kiss Daddy Goodbye".  The movie starred late 1950's and early 1960's teen singing idol Fabian Forte. Miller had 4th billing as "Bill Morris" and the plot had a brother and sister, with psychic powers, getting revenge on a biker gang that murdered their father. They bring a dead murderer back to life as a zombie. 


Above Marvin Miller is on the phone.

On March 4, 1982 the short lived, only six episodes and it was cancelled, "Police Squad", premiered on ABC. Marvin Miller was once again the narrator of each of those episodes and the star was Leslie Nielsen as "Police Detective Frank Drebin". The show may have bombed with the ratings, but it would  be expanded six years later into the feature film "The Naked Gun" and into a motion picture franchise through 1994.












Above Alan North as "Police Captain Ed Hocken" with Nielsen.

A forgotten made for television Western, portraying "A Senator", was the actors only work in 1983 and then back to familiar territory in a Joe Dante directed motion picture, 1984's "Gremlins".

                               
Above Steven Spielberg in a cameo in the foreground and in the cowboy hat is composer Jerry Goldsmith. Marvin Miller was once again the voice of "Robby the Robot".


Above Hoyt Axton is calling his house as "Robby"' now wears Goldsmith's cowboy hat, stands beside him. Below "Robby" and producer George Pal's 1960 "Time Machine" in the background.




In his final motion picture, Marvin Miller portrayed "The Shiek", in "Hell Squad", released January 1, 1986. The son of a diplomat has been kidnapped and a rescue mission is required. Ready for this? The rescue team is a group of Las Vegas show girls trained as commando's.


Marvin Miller never saw his final on-screen appearance. The actor passed away on February 8, 1985 from a heart attack.





































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