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Disney Recording Artist Robie Lester Dies at 75

Grammy-nominated Hollywood singer/actress Robie Lester, who was the singing voice behind Eva Gabor in THE ARISTOCATS and THE RESCUERS, died June 14, 2005, of cancer at St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank at age 75.

In 1965, Lester started recording records to help teach millions of children how to read beginning via the Disneyland Story Reader, on the record labels seven-inch book and records sets. For seven years, she told young readers to turn the page, When Tinker Bell rings her little bells. Between the little LPs 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, the latter album that was nominated for a 1970 Grammy.

Lester was the singing voice for Gabor in the animated film, ARISTOCATS, as well in 1977 for THE RESCUERS. She was one of Hollywoods most sought-after studio soloists for countless commercials and recordings, including the Spanish vocal in The Sandpipers hit single, Guantanamera. She also voiced the schoolteacher Jessica (who becomes Mrs. Claus) opposite Mickey Rooney in the Rankin/Bass animated special, SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN TO TOWN.

Born in Megargel, Texas, she was raised in northern Ontario, Canada. After a few years in Detroit, she joined the United States Air Corps before attending UCLA, majoring in music. In Hollywood, she worked with Henry Mancini and Herb Alpert, recorded for Liberty, Warner Bros. and A&M Records and sang demos for songwriters. Disney tunesmiths Richard and Robert Sherman brought Lester to the attention of Disneys in-house record label.

Lester spent her later years in Fillmore, California, writing novels, fundraising and crusading for animal rights. 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.