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LPWire: Prolific Disney Recording Artist Robie Lester Dies at 75

Prolific Disney Recording Artist Robie Lester Dies at 75

Grammy-nominated Hollywood singer/actress Robie Lester, singing voice behind Eva Gabor in The AristoCats and The Rescuers who, died Tuesday, June 14, of cancer at St. Joseph's Hospital in Burbank at age 75.

Lester helped teach millions of children how to read beginning in 1965 as the “Disneyland Story Reader,? on the record label's 7-inch book and records sets. For seven years following, she told young readers to turn the page “when Tinker Bell rings her little bells.? Between the “little LP's? and full-length albums, Lester recorded more single Disney records than any other performer, playing a variety of roles from Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to Duchess in The AristoCats, a “Storyteller? album that was nominated for a 1970 Grammy.

In the film version of AristoCats, Lester was the singing voice for Eva Gabor, a task she repeated in 1977 for The Rescuers. Lester was one of Hollywood's most sought-after studio soloists for countless commercials and recordings, including the Spanish vocal in The Sandpiper's hit single, “Guantanamera.? She also played schoolteacher Jessica (who becomes Mrs. Claus) opposite Mickey Rooney in the Rankin/Bass animated special Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.
Lester was born in Megargel, Texas and raised in northern Ontario, Canada.

After a few years in Detroit, she joined the United States Air Corps before attending UCLA with a major in music. In Hollywood, she worked with Henry Mancini and Herb Alpert, recorded for Liberty, Warner Brothers and A&M Records and sang demos for songwriters. Disney tunesmiths Richard and Robert Sherman brought Lester to the attention of Disney's in-house record label.

Lester spent her later years in Fillmore, California, writing novels, fund raising and crusading for animal rights. In the last few years of her life, she was gratified to discover a fan base that had grown up with her work.

Her last voice performance was for the Adventures in Odyssey radio series.

Lester is survived by her husband, producer Geoff Eccleston, daughter Mindy and three grandchildren.

--Posted June 24, 2005