Friday, May 22, 2009

May 22: Passing of a Legend

On this day in 2005, voice actor, singer and Disney Legend Thurl Ravenscroft passed away at his home in California at the age of 91. Forever known as the voice of television's Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Ravenscroft was involved with Disney for over 60 years.
His theme park credits go back to Disneyland's opening day in 1955. He was the announcer for many events, including the opening of Fantasyland and the on-board narrator of the Disneyland Railroad. Over the years his voice could be heard as the First Mate on the Mark Twain Steamboat, part of the chorus singing "You Can Fly" in Peter Pan's Flight, the voices of Tangaroa & Fritz in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and several voices for the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Ravenscroft's deep baritone can be heard in the Haunted Mansion (singing "Grim Grinning Ghosts") and the Alice in Wonderland attraction (which was borrowed from the 1951 animated release).
Ravenscroft was also part of some of the best-loved Disney films. He sang as part of the chorus in Cinderella, backed up Kirk Douglas on the song "Whale of a Tale" in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, helped provide the voices of the singing dogs in Lady and the Tramp, voiced one of the knights in The Sword in the Stone, and was the voice of the Russian cat in The Aristocats.
Ravenscroft was also part of Disney television from the very beginning as a member of The Mellomen (a singing quartet). The Mellomen appeared in countless episodes of the Disneyland television series. (Along with Max Smith, Ravenscroft actually started the singing group back in 1948!)
Revenscroft also sang on and narrated countless Disney Records released between 1958 and 1977.
His non-Disney credits include singing on the soundtrack for South Pacific (which was one of the top selling albums in the 1950s) and of course as the vocalist on "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" from the television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
A few weeks after his death, an ad industry journal ran a tribute to Ravenscroft that included these words: "Behind every great character, is an even greater man"

Click here for more May 22 Disney History.

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