William Jesse "Bill" Shirley was an American actor and tenor/lyric baritone singer, who later became a Broadway theatre producer. He provided the voice of Prince Phillip in Disney's 1959 animated feature film, Sleeping Beauty.
Shirley was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 6, 1921. His mother noticed talent at a young age and began singing with the Ogden Chorale as a boy soprano. At the age of eleven, he traveled with his family to California where he began appearing in films like The Phantom President and As The Devil Commands while also attending school. At age nineteen, he studied voice and music at the Herbert Wall School of Music and the Edward Clark Academy in Hollywood.
In early 1941, Shirley was signed up for a seven-year contract with Republic Pictures where appeared in films, like Flying Tigers, Doctors Don't Tell, Rookies on Parade, Hi'-Neighbor, Ice-Capades Revue, and Sailors on Leave. before he could complete his contract, he entered the Army to serve in World War II. After his service, he found work in radio ("Ladies Day" and "The Packard Hour") and stage productions (A La Carte, The Great Waltz, and South Pacific).
Shirley was later put under contract as a ghost singer for 20th Century-Fox. He dubbed vocals for films, including Oh, You Beautiful Doll (Mark Stevens' singing voice), Dancing In The Dark, With a Song in My Heart, and My Fair Lady (Jeremy Brett's singing voice).
Shirley was approached by Walt Disney Productions to provide the speaking and singing voice for the character of Prince Phillip in its animated version of Sleeping Beauty. Shirley's singing range was tenor/baritone, and had a youthful quality which was ideal for the voice of the young Prince Phillip. Before they were cast as the voices of Aurora and Phillip, Mary Costa and Shirley were asked to audition together to make sure their voices complemented each other.
In his later years, Shirley worked in real estate and retired kn May 1989, three months before his death from lung cancer, at age 68 on August 27, 1989.