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The Fabulous Disney Babe
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While working on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with Brian Henson, Pete came down with the same strain of viral pneumonia that took Jim Henson from us. It was so bad, Pete had to be cut open and operated upon.  Fortunately, he made a full recovery.

Pete is a gracious, wonderful person, and heaped praise upon his many co-stars. I've spoken to a few voice artists since the interview who have worked with him, and the feeling is mutual - the picture I got was that he is universally loved and admired by his co-workers.

He's been with Disney quite a while. If you've been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you've definitely heard him. His latest Disney gig was recording the voice of the narrator for the new Disneyland attraction The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Remember, it's not the first time those rich tones were heard on that particular piece of real estate - as a bear named Henry, he once upon a time hosted the "one and only oh-riginal Country Bear Jamboree". A native of Lousiana, (the same town, in fact, where Tabasco is made) - he knows from Southern accents.   And, yes, he had Tabasco, and pointed out the label to me. Tabasco is still made in the exact same place it always was - New Iberia. Avery Island is a bit of privately-owned real estate there, and the makers thought it more elegant to change the name. Hence, if you want "good" Tabasco collectibles, look for labels with New Iberia on them.

I learned that Henry's accent is not from Kentucky, as I had thought (in the film the Country Bear Playhouse is in Kentucky), but from Texas. When Pete was visiting Mexico City to do the dubbing for Disney on Ice's Mary Poppins en espanol, he and the organizer were in the back of a Mexican taxi, discussing accents - Pete would be doing Bert, the chimney sweep, as speaking Spanish with "a not-so-good accent", as Cockney just doesn't survive translation. They got to discussing a Spanish-speaking Henry. Pete had heard enough Texans murdering the Spanish language to be able to nail it. As Henry, he recited a few lines in Spanish with an atrocious Texas accent (don't even ask me to transcribe it here, I can't) that had me helpless with laughter. He'd cracked up his Mexican taxi driver as well.

He's very good at nailing other actors' voices - his Sebastian Cabotesque narration for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is far better than anyone else who's had the "Pooh narrator" job, and his Captain Nemo from Walt Disney World's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction was spot on, as well as his preshow narration for the Hall of Presidents.

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-- Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith can be reached using the Talkback form below or by emailing her at DscveryBay@aol.com.

The Fabulous Disney Babe's column is posted every Friday and whenever else she has something to say. For more on Michelle's background, see her first column.

The opinions expressed by our Michelle Smith, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of LaughingPlace.com or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted April 18, 2003

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