Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Voices Behind the Disney Characters - Part II

By Keith Mahne

What would our favorite characters be without voices? Today we will continue our look at the voices behind the Disney Characters. It's fun to see the faces behind the hand drawn animation. Seeing the person that gave the drawings spirit and a soul. Here now is Part II of The Voices Behind the Disney Characters...

You can read Part I of The Voices Behind the Disney Characters here.

Barbara Luddy was a prolific silent film and radio actress before she became a Disney regular. She began by providing the smooth tones of Lady in Lady and the Tramp before going on to voice fairy Merryweather in Sleeping Beauty, Rover the dog in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Kanga in Winnie the Pooh and the church mouse in Robin Hood (1973).

Mary Costa was already a successful opera singer when she auditioned for the role of Aurora for Sleeping Beauty in 1952. Hours later Walt called her personally to offer her the role. To this day she continues to do promotional appearances for Disney.

Phil Harris had an illustrious entertainment career, appearing as an actor and comedian on radio and as a singer, musician and band leader. In 1967 and 1973 he voiced two very similar-looking bears for Disney. The first was as cuddly Baloo in The Jungle Book, the second as cuddly Little John in Robin Hood.

Fellow New Orleans native and probably the bigger voice star of The Jungle Book was Louis Prima, the lively musician who had reinvented his style through the decades – beginning with a jazz band in the Twenties, then moving on to swing in the Thirties, big band in the Forties, becoming a Vegas lounge act in the Fifties and forming a pop rock band in the Sixties. His performance as orang-utan King Louie and the song I Wanna Be Like You will always be remembered as one of Disney’s finest.

Two big stars – and big personalities – came together for 1973’s Robin Hood. British acting heavyweight Peter Ustinov voiced the role of evil Prince John – the man, well, lion, occupying the throne while his brother King Richard (also voiced by Ustinov) was on a crusade. Known for playing cads and toffs, comic actor Terry-Thomas played Sir Hiss.

Kathleen Turner helped confuse sexually frustrated teenage boys the world over when she provided her sultry tones to Jessica Rabbit (talking only, Amy Irving provided the singing), possibly Disney’s most overtly sexy character. Turner was uncredited for the role in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).

Jodi Benson has voiced many Disney characters – including Thumbelina and Barbie in Toy Story – but her biggest role is as Ariel in the hugely successful 1989 film The Little Mermaid. Away from the big screen, she’s also a Tony Award-winning stage actress.

Jerry Orbach, famous for his roles as Lennie Briscoe in Law & Order and Baby’s father in Dirty Dancing, provided the voice of the enchanted candelabra, Lumiere, in Beauty and the Beast.

Angela Lansbury, so well known for appearing as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, was the voice of charming teapot Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast.

By the Nineties, the Disney juggernaut was at full strength and casting serious Hollywood actors became commonplace. In 1994’s The Lion King, Matthew Broderick (best known for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and being married to Sarah Jessica Parker) was brought in to be the talking voice of adult Simba. (Jonathan Taylor-Thomas of the sitcom Home Improvement was the voice of young Simba.)

Gravelly voiced Jeremy Irons made a genuinely scary Uncle Scar in The Lion King. Among the other famous voices in the film were Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, Whoopi Goldberg as Shenzi, Cheech Marin as Banzai, Nathan Lane as Timon and James Earl Jones as Mufasa.

That about does it for The Voices Behind the Disney Characters. Who's your favorite voice actor and why? Let us know in the comments below...

Keith Michael Mahne is the owner and editor of Disney Avenue and the host of the Disney Avenue Podcast. He has made countless trips to the Walt Disney World resort since his first trip in 1989 at the age of four. Keith has a strong passion and respect for Walt Disney, the parks and resorts, and the men and women who help create them. He started Disney Avenue as a way to inform and entertain readers and to repay all those who make dreams come true everyday.

(Reference: The Telegraph)

1 comment:

  1. Sad fact: Though Matthew Broderick is an insanely talented singer, he didn't sing as Simba. It was someone else (imdb has him uncredited so I don't know the name).