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Clarence Nash

Adriana Caselotti

Fess Parker as Davy Crockett

Hayley Mills

For the longest time Walt Disney himself voiced Mickey Mouse in the cartoons. The now famous mouse made his film debut in 1928’s Steamboat Willie, In the very early days Mickey wasn’t the model of good behaviour that he is today in “The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” He often treated Minnie Mouse without much respect and was just plain mischievous, For example in the 1928 cartoon short, Plane Crazy, Mickey uses scare tactics while flying in a plain to get a kiss from a distressed Minnie. As Mickey became a more well-behaved protagonist Disney and his crew noticed that he wasn’t a naturally funny character so sidekicks like Donald Duck and Goofy were created for Mickey Mouse to react to. Walt Disney heard Clarence Nash on national radio singing ‘Mary Had a little Lamb’ in a silly voice and immediately brought him in to the studio to use the voice to help bring new character Donald Duck to life! Pinto Colvig had already been providing the barks for Mickey’s pet dog, Pluto, when Walt Disney recruited the actor to voice Goofy, a similar looking character to Pluto the Dog. When Walt Disney was developing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The very first full length animated feature of all time, he struggled for quite a while to find a voice actress to speak and sing for Snow White herself, Adriana Caselotti was eventually chosen to voice the princess when Disney was on the phone with her father, Guido, Adriana herself was also on the line and when they started to discuss struggling to cast the voice actress of Snow White she began to speak to Walt in an innocent, childish voice which impressed Walt and he wanted to hear more so he called her over to the studio to sing some of Larry Morey and Frank Churchill’s songs including “Whistle While You Work” after hearing her sing for a while Walt stood up and shouted “That’s my Snow White!” Although she gave Snow White her voice it was Marge Champion who provided Live Action reference footage for the animators. Ilene Woods was friends with songwriters Mack David and Jerry Livingston when Walt Disney’s Cinderella was being developed, The two asked Woods to visit the Disney Studio to sing some of their songs for Demo recordings but when Walt Disney heard them the genius decided she was perfect for the role of Cinderella and he gave her the timeless role. For Disney’s second animated feature, Pinocchio, Dickie Jones was chosen to voice the main character of the same name, Jones was already very experienced, He had starred alongside Jimmy Stewart in the classic film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The very well known Celebrity, Cliff Edwards, was recruited to voice Jiminy Cricket, Edwards was the first person ever to sing ‘Singing in the Rain’, This was an unusual choice because unlike today Big name celebrities weren’t in animated films. Kathryn Beaumont remains the only actress to voice two Disney heroines (both Alice in Wonderland and Wendy Darling from Peter Pan) Kathryn Beaumont was given a contract with MGM in 1945, She caught the attention of Disney at the same time they were looking for a voice actress to portray the main character, Alice, in Alice in Wonderland. The young English actress properly embodied the Lewis Carroll character and she also greatly stood her ground perfectly alongside co-stars, Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna, Bill Thompson and others. Alice in Wonderland marked the first time Disney used a voice cast on posters and other various kinds of publicity to sell movie tickets because the cast was so star-studded. Kathryn Beaumont starred as Alice in One Hour in Wonderland, Walt Disney’s TV Christmas special which also starred co star Bobby Driscoll as Peter Pan and James Baskett as Uncle Remus. At the same time Kathryn Beaumont was voicing Alice in Wonderland, Bobby Driscoll was starring in some of Walt Disney’s first live action features including Song of the South in 1946 which followed Driscoll as a young boy named Johnny living on his grandmother’s plantation, He begins to become captivated by the stories of an old black storyteller (Uncle Remus played by James Baskett) about Brer Rabbit and his foes Brer Fox and Brer Bear, Driscoll and co star Luana Patten provide a sense of innocence and cuteness to the Disney picture, The two would continue to star together In Disney films through out the 1940’s including So Dear to My Heart with Burl Ives (Bobby Driscoll won a Juvenile Oscar for his performance in the film) and in a live action segment, Pecos Bill, in the animated feature Melody Time. Both of them would star separately in Disney films, Patten starred on her own in Fun and Fancy Free with Jiminy Cricket (Voiced by Cliff Edwards) and Edgar Bergan and his ventriloquist puppets, Driscoll starred on his own in Disney’s first fully live action feature, Treasure Island, as young Jim Hawkins, along with actor Robert Newton (Long John Silver) Driscoll dives further into the complicated relationship between the two Robert Louis Stevenson characters with their performances and immaculate on screen chemistry. Bobby Driscoll’s most famous role came along in 1953 when he starred alongside Kathryn Beaumont as the voice of Peter Pan, Bobby also provided Live Action reference footage for the character. When ‘One Hour in Wonderland’ hit TV screens in Christmas of 1951 Walt Disney wasn’t used to being the host, In Fact Kathryn Beaumont can recall Disney asking her for advice before shooting took place! But all of this would change when all the major TV networks wanted more from Disney after the special was so popular, Disney made a deal with NBC that if they gave him the money to build his new theme park in Anaheim, California called Disneyland Walt Disney would in return give NBC quality family entertainment made for American TV Audiences. Disney’s first big success on TV was with Davy Crockett, a series which starred Fess Parker as the folk legend through his adventures from Soldier to Congressman. Fess Parker was practically an unknown before he starred as Crockett but he was soon shot into national stardom, Due to the series the majority of Lads in America were wearing coon skinned caps and singing the catchy Davy Crockett ballad by George Bruns. Fess Parker starred alongside Buddy Ebsen in the serial, they both did their own stunts, Parker would go on to star in Daniel Boone on TV (also for NBC) and in many Disney features including The Great Locomotive Chase, Old Yeller and Westward Ho the Wagons! Disney’s next success on TV was The Mickey Mouse Club, a series which starred a group of happy go lucky singing and dancing children named the Mouseketeers who would wear Mickey Mouse ears on their heads. Each Mouseketeer was talented and equally special but one seemed to stand out from the rest, Annette Funicello, An Italian-American gal who was found by Disney at a dance recital in California, While starring on The Mickey Mouse Club for Disney Annette was receiving just over six thousand fan letters each week! She quickly became the pin-up girl for thousands of American lads. Annette became so popular she was even given her own TV serial on The Mickey Mouse Club called ‘Walt Disney Presents: Annette’ (which also starred Tim Considine and David Stollery) in which audiences watched the fictional day to day life of her character, In one particular episode of the serial, The Hayride, Annette sings a song called ‘How Will I Know My Love’ (by Tom Adair, Frances Jeffords and William Walsh) after the episode aired thousands of Disney fans wrote in asking for Annette to record a version of the tune so they could purchase it, Annette was reluctant because she didn’t consider herself to be a singer but just an actress and a dancer, Walt Disney wasn’t having any of this though and told her she was going to record the song so that is what Annette did simply because she respected Disney and realised that she owed her Entertainment career to him, The song was a hit and Annette was given a record contract with Buena Vista Records beginning Annette’s long and lasting singing career. Annette would help launch the career of The Sherman Brothers (Richard and Robert) when some of their songs (like Tall Paul, Pineapple Princess etc) became the star’s biggest hits.  Other very successful Mickey Mouse Club serials included The Adventures of Spin and Marty which starred young actors Tim Considine and David Stollery as two absolute opposites who become close pals while staying at an all-boys camp called The Triple R Ranch over the summer, Spin and Marty received a second series called The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty which didn’t only star Considine and Stollery but female Mouseketeers Annette Funicello and Darlene Gillespie and Kevin Corcoran (aka Moochie) who had previously made his Disney debut In Adventures in Dairyland also with Annette. Tim Considine also starred in The Hardy Boys on The Mickey Mouse Club with Disney newcomer Tommy Kirk, The Hardy Boys (Played by Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk) are two kid detectives who discover long lost pirate treasure in a neighbour’s back-garden. The majority of Disney TV stars made the jump to film, Most notably Tommy Kirk who would go on to star in some of Walt Disney’s greatest live action achievements including Old Yeller in 1957, Directed by Robert Stevenson and co starring Dorothy McGuire and Fess Parker as his parents and Kevin Corcoran as his brother, Kirk and Corcoran would star constantly as on screen siblings for Disney so often that when they would visit Disneyland the fans thought they actually were brothers! Old Yeller is set in Texas but was filmed mostly on Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch in California where a lot of exterior scenes for Live Action films were shot (Including The Parent Trap, Davy Crockett, Savage Sam etc) Tommy Kirk (and Kevin Corcoran) starred in one of Disney’s very first Comedy pictures, The Shaggy Dog, which was originally supposed to be a television production and ended up making 12.3 million dollars at the American Box Office, The film also marked the big film debut of Annette Funicello.  Tim Considine and Roberta Shore (Who both had starred in the ‘Annette’ serial for The Mickey Mouse Club) also were in the film as well as Fred MacMurray, The film really was a vehicle for MacMurray and allowed him to star in more comedy hits for Walt Disney like The Absent-Minded Professor which he starred in with Tommy Kirk, The Film followed a science professor (Played by Fred) who creates a flying rubber he calls ‘Flubber’, Nancy Olson plays his wife In the film, Only a year earlier she had also starred in Pollyanna, The big Disney debut of the daughter of Sir John Mills, Hayley Mills, the next Disney film phenomenon, Hayley won a Juvenile Academy Award for her performance and the hearts of thousands all over the world, In Pollyanna Hayley Mills plays a young orphan girl sent to live with her distant Aunt Polly (Played by Jane Wyman) with her cheery personality and ‘Glad Games’ Pollyanna changes the lives of everybody in town! Hayley Mills was given a six movie contract with The Disney Studios, Her next film for Disney was The Parent Trap, It became her first real smash hit and launched her into international fame, Hayley sings a song in the picture called ‘Let’s Get Together’ (Written by the Sherman Brothers) and was loved so much by fans that an album was released by Buena Vista Records called ‘Let’s Get Together with Hayley Mills’ and it got to number one in the Hawaiian music charts! The Parent Trap was the fourth highest grossing film at the American Box Office in 1961 just under El Cid and just above Disney’s Fred MacMurray comedy, The Absent-Minded Professor. Hayley Mills’ third Disney film was In Search of the Castaways based on the Jules Verne novel of the same name, In the film Hayley stars alongside Maurice Chevalier and sings a compilation of Catchy tunes by the Sherman Brothers including the slow ballad ‘Castaway’ and the upbeat ‘Enjoy It!’ The film was a very big hit mostly because of its irresistible British star. Hayley would get a somewhat mature role from Disney in the 1964 Hitchcockian thriller, The Moon-Spinners, in which CoStar Peter McEnery gave Hayley her very first on screen kiss, Hayley would star in her final Disney film only a year later in the comedy hit That Darn Cat! with newcomer Dean Jones. Back in 1959 Janet Munro made her Disney film debut in Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, a brilliant fantasy film which showcased ground-breaking special effects by Disney Legend Peter Ellenshaw including one of a kind use of the ‘Forced Perspective’ technique that was way ahead of its time. In the picture Janet Munro is courted by Pre 007 Sean Connery who, unlike Janet Munro, doesn’t show much charisma in his quite wooden performance. Janet Munro was given a five-year contract by Walt Disney, the actress brought a fresh and appealing beauty to a handful of live action Disney classics including Third Man on the Mountain with James MacArthur and the Cinemascope epic Swiss Family Robinson. Janet Munro made her final Disney appearance In the 1961 TV film, The Horsemasters which also starred Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello, in the picture Annette sings a song called ‘Strumming Song’ which was written by the Sherman Brothers, The Horsemasters marked the Disney debut of the two iconic siblings. In 1964 Annette and Tommy Kirk were teamed up again for The Mis-Adventures of Merlin Jones, a comedy movie about a wacky science student obsessed with creating strange inventions that end up causing nothing but chaos, The film was a surprise smash at the American Box Office so a sequel was made (Again starring Tommy and Annette) called The Monkey’s Uncle, In the film Annette sings the theme song of the film (Called ‘The Monkey’s Uncle’ and written by the Sherman Brothers) with The Beach Boys who would later become a very famous group, 1965 marked the end of a Disney era since in 65 Hayley Mills, Annette Funicello and Tommy Kirk appeared in their final movies for the Disney studio. After starring with Hayley Mills in The Moon-Spinners Peter McEnery was given the main role in a British swashbuckler called The Fighting Prince of Donegal with Susan Hampshire, who previously starred in The Three Lives of Thomasina for Walt Disney, the film was directed by Irishman Michael O'Herlihy