Legacy Content

Toon Talk Special: The 101 Greatest Disney Voice Artists - Part 1 of 2
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by Kirby C. Holt (archives)
June 29, 2001
In a special edition of Toon Talk, Kirby looks at the voice actors behind the memorable chacters. Part 1 of 2.

The 101 Greatest
Disney Voice Artists
Part One of Two

You have seen the behind-the-scenes footage before, either on a "Making of ... " special or in DVD extras.

The actor (sometimes famous, sometimes not) is in a darkened recording studio. Speaking their lines into an oversized microphone, they wear clunky earphones on their heads, little statues of odd-looking characters often in the background.

They are the voice talent, the actors and singers who supply every line of dialogue; every song lyric; every cough, sneeze and hiccup; every bark, meow and chirp we hear coming out of a character's mouth in an animated film, whether human, animal or otherwise.

And while they are not paid what they would normally receive for a "regular" (that is, live action) film, they are still very serious about their roles. They instill the same commitment, the same quality of their craft, that they would for any other character they would portray.

So in celebration of those men and women who have created so many memorable characters in film, television, video and theme parks, Toon Talk welcomes you to the 101 Greatest Disney Voice Artists.

The Dynamic Duos
Like Lucy and Ethel, Abbot and Costello, peanut butter and jelly, these terrific twosomes are hard to separate.

Tim Allen and Tom Hanks

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As Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Allen and Hanks created the comedy team for the new millennium.

Allen returned as Buzz for the direct to video feature Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, The Adventure Begins and can also be heard in the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin attraction at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Jerry Colonna and Ed Wynn

The zany portrayals of Colonna as the March Hare and Wynn as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland made the Mad Tea Party scene a timeless classic.

Colonna was also the Narrator of Casey at the Bat in Make Mine Music, and Wynn appeared in several Disney films, most notably as Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins and the Toymaker in Babes in Toyland.

Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella

A wisecracking meerkat and a flatulent warthog are usually not the kind of roles that make you a star. But as Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King, Broadway alumni Lane and Sabella (who first worked together in the acclaimed Guys & Dolls revival) stole the show, whether crooning "Hakuna Matata" or dressing in drag and doing the hula. Most voice actors are recorded separately during the making of an animated film, but these two were allowed to record their lines for the film together to inspire improvisation.

They both returned as their famous alter-egos in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, House of Mouse, the "Find Out Why?" segments of One Saturday Morning and the Circle of Life film in The Land at Epcot. Lane sat out on The Lion King's Timon & Pumbaa series and the1995 Academy Awards ceremony (where Sabella sung the nominated best song "Hakuna Matata" with comedian David Alan Grier), but can currently be heard as Spot in Teacher's Pet.

Peter Ustinov and Terry-Thomas

There had been comedic villain duos before (Honest John and Gideon in Pinocchio) and since (Yzma and Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove), but none quite so giddy in their interplay as Ustinov's Prince John and Thomas' Sir Hiss in Robin Hood.

These two British acting legends obviously delighted in their chance to tweak their Royal Shakespearean pasts when taking on this retelling of the classic tale of the Prince of Thieves.

Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor

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Through both The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under, we watched the relationship between Newhart's Bernard and Gabor's Miss Bianca develop from loyal partners to loving couple. Newhart's trademark stammering delivery and Gabor's exotic Hungarian accent created the perfect odd couple for you to root for, both in their adventures and romantically.

Of course, Gabor was one half of another famous Disney couple, voicing Duchess to Phil Harris' O'Malley in The Aristocats.