Legacy Content

Walt Disney Art Classics Convention 2004 - Part 2
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Burton recalled that he was asked to audition, and went in assuming it would be a few lines. He was surprised to discover that he was given an entire script. Producer Bruce Healey kept urging him to do more, which Burton did, since he knew the voice so well. He was also inspired by the sound produced by the old microphone they used for the session. He speculated that the 50s vintage instrument may have even been used in the original recording sessions. Burton also lauded the work of technician Randy Coppinger of Disney Character Voices who worked to match the quality of the old recordings.

Thornton interjected, “Yet keep it contemporary.?

Burton went on to say that while his voice was not as massive and powerful as Frees’, acting helped create the illusion it was the same quality. He then recited a few lines in that familiar, rolling baritone. After a round of applause, he shyly said, “The Ghost Host is sort of Paul Frees’ alter ego.? He mischievously added that the Host is sort of a pompous know-it-all.

Thornton recalled a Paul Frees story from the Sherman Brothers, who had written all the Ludwig von Drake songs for Paul Frees. (He also recalled the thrill of singing “On the Front Porch? with Richard and Robert.) Thornton said that they told him about an offer Frees once made to Walt Disney: Frees told Walt he would be happy to go through the scripts offered to the Studio and weed out the bad ones. Walt replied that, as kind as the offer was, he had people to do that for him already.

Burton mentioned a story from Frees’ book, Welcome Foolish Mortals. It seems that Frees was in a movie theater when Orson Welles’ distinctive voice was heard in the opening narration. Frees loudly announced to his theater companions, “Oh! Orson got a job!?

Thornton told how Frees would be given the theme of a new song, and would then ad lib for 30 minutes at a time—some material which was not for family consumption. “I have at least five different versions of the Green with Envy Blues,? he said. He went on to say that the editor’s job was to cut all the material together in a way that kept the humor, yet still made sense.

Burton laughed and added, “Like Robin Williams in Aladdin.?

Craig Hodgkins mentioned that Frees also did many voices for the Disney theme parks. He specifically mentioned his work in Pirates of the Caribbean.

(At this point in the presentation, a helium balloon suddenly drifted into sight, and slowly made its way across the stage. As the audience tittered, Hodgkins quipped, “It must be Madame Leota.?)

Thornton mentioned that when working on the Pirates of the Caribbean album, he used pirate voices from the original background tracks to set the mood for various sections. He pointed out that, while the voices certainly created great atmosphere, there was not a single clear line of dialogue.