Monday, May 25, 2009

R.I.P. Wayne Allwine

Disney fans (and cartoon fans in general) received some sad news last week. A man whom most people would never recognize in a crowd and whose name rings no bell in their memory, yet he was an international entertainment star, has passed away. This man is Disney Legend Wayne Allwine. The talented and charismatic artist who had been bringing the immortal and beloved character of Mickey Mouse to life for the past 32 years.

He was the third person to voice the most famous mouse in history, in line following Walt Disney and Jimmy MacDonald. He was 62 years old. He was multi-talented, kind, humble, and had a great zeal and appreciation for life.


Name: Wayne Allwine
Occupation: Voice Over / Sound Editor
Genre: Animation / Film
Born: February 7, 1947
Died: May 18, 2009

Longing to work for Disney since childhood, Allwine got his start with the entertainment empire in the mail room of the studio in Burbank shortly before Walt's death in 1966. After working for extended periods in the mail room as well as a brief stint in wardrobe, Allwine left the company only to be called back two months later to "learn Jimmy MacDonald's job".

At that time, Jimmy MacDonald was the head of sound effects at Disney and one of the most innovative foley artists in the business. Allwine learned the artform from MacDonald and went on to have a successful sound editing career in the decade to follow, including winning an Emmy for it in 1985. MacDonald was also the current voice of Mickey Mouse, but due to his advancing years and naturally baritone voice he was unable to sustain the falsetto for the duration of recording sessions.

Allwine took over voicing Mickey Mouse in 1977 for "The New Mickey Mouse Club" and made his theatrical debut as Mickey in the holiday featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983. He went on to star as Mickey in films such as The Prince and the Pauper, Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, as well as the TV series "Mickey Mouse Works", "House of Mouse", and "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse".

He also provided Mickey's voice for nearly every entry in the popular "Kingdom Hearts" series of video games. Allwine had already finished recording for the Nintendo DS game "Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days" before his passing. He had voiced the character longer than either of his predecessors.

He was married since 1991 to Russi Taylor, the Emmy Award nominated voice over actress who has been voicing Minnie Mouse for the last 23 years. The pair were named Disney Legends in 2008. Allwine died in Los Angeles of complications from diabetes with Russi at his side.

Below is a very interesting excerpt from an interview with Allwine and Taylor conducted by film historian and Disney enthusiast Leonard Maltin.

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