Wayne Allwine, a veteran Disney voiceover talent and Emmy Award-winning sound effects editor, who provided the voice of Mickey Mouse for the past 32 years, passed away on Monday (May 18) at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, from complications due to diabetes. He was 62-years-old. Allwine's wife of 20 years, Russi Taylor, who provides the voice of Minnie Mouse, was by his side at the time of his passing.
Allwine had been the voice of Disney's world-renowned cartoon mouse since 1977, when he first lent his familiar falsetto to animated segments for THE NEW MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. He went on provide Mickey's voice for such theatrical efforts as MICKEY'S CHRISTMAS CAROL (1983), WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988), THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (1990), the 1997 Oscar-nominated short, RUNAWAY BRAIN, and the direct-to-DVD feature, MICKEY, DONALD AND GOOFY: THE THREE MUSKETEERS (2004), etc. His voice has been heard at Disney Theme Parks around the world, on television (MICKEY'S 60TH BIRTHDAY, MICKEY'S MOUSEWORKS, THE HOUSE OF MOUSE, and MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE, etc.), at live stage events, and on many radio broadcasts.
Walt Disney himself provided the original sounds and speaking voice for Mickey Mouse starting in 1928 with Mickey's talking debut in STEAMBOAT WILLIE. Veteran Disney sound effects wizard Jimmy Macdonald assumed speaking duties for the mouse starting in 1947 with MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK (from FUN AND FANCY FREE), and continued with it until 1977 when his protege, Allwine, took over the job.
Allwine recalled, "The main piece of advice that Jim gave me about Mickey helped me keep things in perspective. He said, 'Just remember kid, you're only filling in for the boss.' And that's the way he treated doing Mickey for years and years. From Walt, and now from Jimmy. I just feel like I'm filling in for the boss too. And it really puts the whole job in perspective. Mickey's the real star. You know you just have to love the little guy while you have him, because he won't be yours forever."
"Like all actors, you put some of who you are into the character," he added. "There's always a sense of optimism about Mickey that's got to be there. And even when we do work with little kids who are sick, you carry that optimism through and it gives them hope.
"There is a profound sense of loss and sadness throughout our company today as we mourn the passing of our friend, colleague and Disney Legend Wayne Allwine," said Disney CEO Robert A. Iger. "Wayne dedicated his entire professional life to Disney, and over the last 32 years, gave so much joy, happiness and comfort to so many around the world by giving voice to our most beloved, iconic character, Mickey Mouse. Wayne's great talent, deep compassion, kindness, and gentle way, all of which shone brightly through his alter ego, will be greatly missed."
Roy E. Disney, director emeritus and consultant for The Walt Disney Company, added, "Wayne not only gave voice to the character of Mickey but gave him a heart and soul as well. He did an incredible job bringing emotion, humor and appeal to the character, and superbly carried on the tradition originated by my Uncle Walt, and later by sound effects wizard Jimmy Macdonald. On a personal note, Wayne and Russi were wonderful friends, and gave generously of themselves for many charitable causes, especially when it came to working with children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Russi at this difficult time."
"Who is more recognized and beloved around the world than Mickey Mouse, and his appeal is in no small part because of the men who have given him voice: Walt Disney, Jimmy Macdonald, and Wayne Allwine," said Don Hahn, the Oscar-winning producer of such Disney animated favorites as BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING, etc. "I have such a mix of emotions, on one hand we can celebrate the warmth and comic gift that Wayne brought to his voice role, not to mention the astounding achievement of sustaining Mickey Mouse at superstar status for over three decades. On the other hand, I'll miss his friendship and the joy he brought to so many of us who worked with him."
Born in 1947 in Glendale, Califorinia, Allwine was active on stage and screen most of his life, making his first television appearance at age 7 as one of the children interviewed by Art Linkletter on his HOUSE PARTY program. While still in high school, he formed his own acoustic music group, The International Singers, which performed in clubs and colleges all over the state. He went on to record with such singers as Dobie Gray and Bobby Vinton, and was a member of The Arrows, a musical group put together by Mike Curb.
In 1966, Allwine opted for a "normal" lifestyle and took a job in the mail room at The Walt Disney Studios. From there, he worked briefly in Wardrobe, then moved to Audio Post Production and began a 7-1/2 year stint under resident sound effects expert Jimmy Macdonald.
Allwine worked in sound effects editing on Disney films and television shows including SPLASH (1984), and THREE MEN AND A BABY (1987), as well as INNERSPACE (1987), ALIEN NATION (1988), and STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) for other studios.
He received the Emmy Award and the Golden Reel Award for his contributions to Steven Spielberg's AMAZING STORIES, which he worked on for two years, and a second Golden Reel for his work on THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE (1986).
For the past twenty years, Allwine was married to Russi Taylor, the voice of Minnie Mouse and many other popular characters for Disney, THE SIMPSONS, etc. They had their own production company, Taylor-Allwine Associates. Allwine and Taylor were both named Disney Legends in 2008 by The Walt Disney Company, and were immortalized with bronze plaque handprints at the Studio's Legends Plaza in Burbank.
Allwine is survived by Taylor and five children from previous marriages: Erin, Alison, Peter, Christopher, and Joshua; and a grandson, Isaac. Funeral services will be private. Details regarding a life celebration will be announced at a later date. In Allwine's memory, flowers or toys can be sent in Mickey's name to Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, or donations can be made to such children's charities as the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Guide Dogs of America, or St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.