Thursday, October 1, 2015

Paul Frees Records Narration for the Haunted Mansion

By Keith Mahne

What better way to kick off October and the Halloween season than with an article on the Haunted Mansion and the great Paul Frees. I'm sure most of you know that name, but, if not, you certainly know his voice. Paul Frees was known as the man of multiple voices. From being the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy to Professor Ludwig von Drake for the Wonderful World of Disney, perhaps Paul's most famous voice is as our "ghost host" in the Haunted Mansion attraction. As Fall comes upon us and Halloween draws near, let's get in the spirit of things by taking a listen to Paul's actual recording session for this classic Disney attraction in today's new article...

Paul Frees is probably one of the most under-rated and one of the more mysterious figures in the world of voice acting. As D23 puts it, the voice of actor Paul Frees was not so much ubiquitous as inescapable. It was literally impossible during the 1960s and most of the 1970s to turn on the TV on any given night and not hear the ineluctable Mr. Frees.

Gifted with an amazing ear and versatile voice from an early age, Paul’s early radio career was cut short when he was drafted during World War II. He was wounded in action at Normandy on D-Day and returned to the United States for a year of recuperation. He attended the Chouinard Art Institute under the G.I. Bill. Paul was often called upon in the 1950s and 1960s to loop the dialogue of other actors, often to correct for foreign accents, lack of English proficiency, or poor line readings by non-professionals. These dubs extended from a few lines to entire roles.

Paul Frees (second from left) during a recording session.

Paul began working for Disney dubbing voices for television and features, including narration for the Man in Space series, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Stowaway Dog, and The Monkey’s Uncle among others. Most famously, Paul’s comedic Germanic accent and free-wheeling improvisational ability brought personality and popularity to Donald Duck’s nutty Uncle, Professor Ludwig Von Drake, who was introduced on An Adventure in Color and subsequently became a frequent host of Disney’s Sunday night Wonderful World of Color, as well as a star of Disneyland Records.

For the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, Paul was the sonorous narrator of the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln pre-show at the Illinois Pavilion. For Disneyland, he provided the dramatic you are there narration for Adventure Thru Inner Space. Some of his most memorable voice performances are still playing today at Disney Parks as the Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion, and many of the various Pirates of the Caribbean.

Disney Avenue's Halloween Banner

And so today, as we kick off the Halloween season here on Disney Avenue (as you can see from our new banner pictured above for the month of October), let's take a listen to the raw audio of Paul Frees as he records the narration for the Haunted Mansion. I can't think of a better way to get us in the holiday spirit than this. Happy Halloween friends...



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 every day.

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