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Nine And A Half Questions with Dallas McKennon

From the original Gumby and Kellogg's rooster to rides at Disney theme parks worldwide, you have heard this man speak! Now Dallas McKennon answers Will Ryan's 9 1/2 burning questions.

In a busy world, who has time for Ten Questions, let alone Twenty? Not Will Ryan. Here he offers you the Nine And A Half Question interview: mini-interrogations for you busy moderns.

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Dallas McKennon.

Will Ryan: So, Dal, what's new with Gumby?

Dallas McKennon: Gumby is coming back to life. There are a lot of new Art Clokey-related projects in the planning stages, with his son Joe producing and Arthur handling the animation. And we just started work on a whole series of promotional spots plugging ABC's new network shows.

WR: You mean, he's become a spokes-gumb-person for ABC?


There's no other. 'Cept maybe Pokey and he'd be the spokes-gumb-horse.

WR: Speaking of ABC, aren't you in Los Angeles to do some work for some other division of Disney's?

DMcK: I'm doing some voices for the parks -- Disneyland, Disney World, Epcot Center. I'm doing Ben Franklin for the robot in Epcot Center. I don't mean robot. It's not a robot. It's an audio-animatronically controlled presentation.

WR: How did you get started at Disney's?

DMcK: I did a picture -- The Bend of the River -- on location with Jimmy Stewart. After shooting, he invited me to come to Hollywood. Helped me get my first agent, Isabelle Draesmer, who opened the doors to Disney Studio. She got me started. Later on, I was represented by Jack Wormser, who was the top voice talent guy in town.

WR: Did Walt Disney ever personally rescue you from a moment of embarrassment?

DMcK: He certainly did. It was when I was working with the British stage and cinema artiste David Tomlinson on Mary Poppins. We were on Scoring Stage A doing dialogue together all morning -- I was playing a whole bunch of British-accented characters in the horse-racing scene -- when he turned to me and inquired, "I say, old boy, what part of England do you come from?" Walt, who had been in the booth, suddenly interrupted by getting on the speaker and asking David if he'd like to join him for lunch in the penthouse. Whew! Saved my neck. I'd been hired as a Britisher, you see, but being an Oregonian I'd merely been copying the British dialects. Walt saved the day.

WR: Speaking of sound stages, does Stage 30 at Universal Studios bring up any memories?

DMcK: It sure does. That's where we shot The Birds. I'm the chef in the restaurant scene before the gasoline pump explosion -- with Alfred Hitchcock directing.

WR: Didn't you get into a pie fight or something on that same sound stage?

DMcK: A few years later, there was a wrap party on Stage 30 for a picture called Clambake. They wheeled in a five-foot high cake. Layer upon layer of fresh, gooey, beautiful chocolate. See, Elvis and I are standing on one side of this great big cake, and his entourage is over on the other. So one of his fellas threw a piece of that big ol' cake at Elvis. Missed Elvis, but it got me. So I picked up a piece and heaved it back at him. And a giant food fight started. By the end of it that big cake was just a bunch of crumbs. Elvis was laughing his head off. Said it was the best wrap party he'd ever had in his life.

WR: Clambake. Hmmm. I've never seen that one.

DMcK: As far as Elvis is concerned . . . well, he didn't care if anyone ever saw it. He HATED that picture.

WR: What did you think of it?

DMcK: I thought it was a piece of cheese.

WR: A piece of -- ?

DMcK: Fulla holes.

WR: Ah.

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Dallas McKennon is the world's foremost dramatic interpreter of the poetry of Robert W. Service. He has just returned to the contiguous forty-eight from an Alaskan tour. When in Los Angeles he stays in the fabulous guest facilities of Casa Loco, also known as "my place." Between Disney films, television shows and records, Dal McKennon has done more voices for Disney's than you can shake a stick at. Why, in dalmatians alone . . .

Will Ryan is the world's foremost dramatic interpreter of the poetry of Edwin Carp. But as the poet left precious little material behind, Mr. Carp's interpreters are, alas, forced to depend upon inference, innuendo and fuliginous surmise. When Dallas McKennon is in Los Angeles, Mr. Ryan is invariably awakened each morning at dawn by the authentic voice of the Kellogg's rooster, followed by the authentic voices of most of the 101 dalmatians.