Wayne Allwine may not be a name that means a lot to you, but my six month old son loves the sound of his voice. For the past 30-odd years, Wayne had been the voice of Mickey Mouse, starting with The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1977 and most recently on the Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. His famous falsetto appeared wherever the mouse did – from the Kingdom Hearts games, to television and film to material for the Disney theme parks. Sadly, Allwine passed away on Monday from complications related to diabetes. He was 62, and is survived by his wife and five children.
Allwine started in the mailroom at Disney in 1966, working his way up (in that great way we all dream of) to the sound department. He was only the third person to voice Mickey – the first was Walt Disney himself, the second was Allwine’s mentor Jimmy McDonald, himself the voice of Mickey for 30 years. Allwine once recalled that McDonald described the job as “only filling in for the boss,” and treated the job as that.
As well as being the voice of the world’s most famous cartoon character, Allwine was an accomplished sound and sound effects editor. He won an Emmy in 1986 for his work on the series Amazing Stories, and worked on such geek classics as The Black Hole, Innerspace and Star Trek V.
Allwine met his wife Russi Taylor on set in 1987 in a much sweeter version of the Pitt-Jolie romance from Mr. & Mrs. Smith – the ‘set’ was the voiceover stage for Disney’s Totally Minnie and Russi Taylor was the voice of Minnie Mouse herself – Yes, Mickey and Minnie were a real-life couple. Allwine and Taylor married in Hawaii in 1991. Both received the ‘Disney Legends’ award for extraordinary contribution to the Disney company in 2008.
Mickey Mouse of course, lives on. A new actor will fill the big yellow shoes starting (most likely) with the Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep game (due December 2009, in Japan at least.) But it’s worth remembering the man who many of us grew up hearing behind those most famous of ears. In The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey’s own way of offering thanks is to say “If you’ve got ears, say cheers!” So it’s only appropriate to say…