One of the most recognizable and beloved voices of all time has passed. The sad news of the loss of the great Russi Taylor is still sinking in. This sweet, gentle lady embodied the magic of the many characters she voiced, but she will always be remembered primarily for her work as the voice of the one-and-only — Minnie Mouse.
Russi is part of a remarkable legacy of a small handful of voice artists who have lent their talents to voice one of the longest known and cherished characters in animation history...
Minnie's debut was indeed the very same day as her male-mouse counterpart, Mickey Mouse with their first animated classic "Plane Crazy." With the advent of sound, Minnie didn't find her voice until the release of "Steamboat Willie" the first sync-sound animated short. Minnie's voice was first provided by none other than Walt Disney himself. With a high falsetto voice, Minnie's iconic voice was established by Walt and she's been chatting up a storm since then.
1928-1930 – Marjorie Ralston – An early Inker at the Disney Hyperion Studios, Marge was the 13th employee at the young studio and later became the first female voice of Minnie Mouse. After a studio-wide audition, Marge won the role, and lent her voice on a few of the earliest Mickey & Minnie shorts, but soon passed the baton to Marcellite Garner out of shyness, and after hearing her giggle and imitate Minnie at work.
1930-41 – Marcellite Garner – An Ink & Paint artist at the Disney Hyperion Studios, Marcelite was 'cast' to voice Minnie because she could speak Spanish. Beyond Marcellite's lengthy run as the voice of Minnie, she also voiced several characters within the Silly Symphonies and various animal voices throughout early Disney films.
1941-42 – Thelma Boardman – A trained voice actress and writer who also provided voices in various Disney shorts and films including, Miss Bunny, Mrs. Quail and Pheasant from Bambi. Thelma was also the voice of Snow White in the Spanish language version of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
1942-1952 – Ruth Clifford – A silent screen star whose career spanned into the advent of sound. Ruth appeared regularly in various roles throughout her career in films, and later in television. She gave voice to Minnie Mouse in a number of shorts throughout the war and into the new decade.
Late 1950s – Dessie Flynn-Miller – A former Mack Sennett bathing beauty, Dessie went to work in the 1930s at the Front Office of the Walt Disney Studios. Throughout her extensive career working for various executives at Disney, Dessie also gave voice to "Dale" of Chip 'n Dale fame, as well as provided the voice of Minnie Mouse!
The Fab Five characters weren't as active on-screen with other projects underway at the studio in the late 1950s and early '60s, then especially after the passing of Walt Disney.
1970s – Janet Waldo – Renowned as the voice of Judy Jetson, as well as Penelope Pitstop of Hanna Barbara fame, Janet would supply the voice of Minnie whenever needed, along with other regular Disney favorites including Daisy Duck and the Grandmother in the "Carousel of Progress".
1986-today – The great Russi Taylor auditioned to win the role over 200 people to voice this famous mouse. Her magic as Minnie was perhaps foretold, as a child, Russi recalled a brief childhood encounter at Disneyland with Walt Disney, himself. "At one point during our chat, he asked me what I wanted to do when I grow up, and I said, 'I want to work for you!' so he said, 'Okay!'"
Two decades after Walt's passing, Russi took the role of Minnie Mouse. She then met her late husband, Wayne Allowing who voiced her male-mouse counterpart, Mickey from 1977 to 2009. The magic of these two artists as the voices of Mickey & Minnie, was remarkable. Together, they were an unstoppable team as the 'first couple' of animation. Their hearts were as big as their characters as on their own time, they frequently called children who were hospital bound, as Mickey & Minnie, to brighten their days!
This sweet voice — as sweet as the women behind it — will be sorely missed.