Voice Actor Dallas McKennon Passes Away
Created 07/15/2009 - 00:00
Voice actor Dallas McKennon died Monday at the age of 89, just days shy of his 90th birthday.
His friend and mentee, Eugene Hamm, wrote an obituary for McKennon:
Dallas McKennon was a great cartoon voice actor right up there with Mel Blanc and Daws Butler. He was the voice of Gumby and Archie and Buzz Buzzard. He did lots of voices for Disney including the beaver with the whistling lisp and the Chihuahua and the Russian Wolf Hound in LADY AND THE TRAMP. He was the fox with the Irish accent in MARY POPPINS. He was the voice of the miner who warns you before the runaway mine train at Disneyland to "fasten your seat belts." He was the voice of the audio-animatronic Ben Franklin at Epcot.
He acted in lots of live action television and movies too. He was one of the prospectors who tried to buy Jimmy Stewarts grubstake from him in Anthony Mann's BEND OF THE RIVER. In Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, he was the cook who yelled at the man at the gas station, "Don't throw that match!" before the man ignores his warning and blows up the whole town. He was one of the three old codgers who accidentally made a fish grow into a dragon in THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO for George Pal and was the voice of the Chinese character in Pal's TOM THUMB. He was Cinncinatus the Storekeeper on the DANIEL BOONE television series.
He was an audio wizard always tinkering with sound recording. While at Fox on the Boone show, he created an electronic sound effect that was used in PLANET OF THE APES and several Irwin Allen TV series such as LOST IN SPACE, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE Sea, and TIME TUNNEL.
He was always kind to me. He taught me how to do cartoon voices. He called his voice "his instrument". He said voices came from three places, down in the belly for the deep voices, in the throat for middle range voices, and the nose for high voices. He showed me how to project the voice from those three places. Then the way he shaped his mouth would change the tone. If he had to come back to a recording studio months later for pick up lines, he knew where the voice came from and how he shaped his mouth so he could match them exactly.
He was the original voices of all the characters when I first made THE DREAM HAT as a short. Later when it was expanded as a feature, I took what he had taught me and did all the voices myself. But if you see the DVD of THE DREAM HAT, in the end credits, the film is "dedicated to Dallas McKennon who showed me the way out of the village." The relationship between Will and Eon was the relationship between Dal and me.
He was like a father to me. I will always miss him.