Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mickey and Minnie come out

Editor's Note: Ok...not REALLY. But fun headline, huh?! (And I've always wanted dozens of Disney lawyers calling me day and night).


Everyone knows that Mickey and Minnie Mouse are in love. But did you know that those perpetual onscreen daters are really married? And that they once jammed together after hours as members of a local jazz band? Or that Minnie has been known to moonlight as a cat? Finally, the truth about the world's most famous rodents comes out. Shock? Horror? Tabloid frenzy?

Nope, none of the above. Mickey and Minnie - or at least Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor, who provide their voices - have nothing to hide. Allwine and Taylor met on the job, so to speak, and it's been true love ever since.

Allwine, who's been the voice of Mickey since 1977, is more bearish than mouselike in appearance, but he can launch into that distinctive voice at will. Editor's Note: And yet, he managed to find a woman not TERRIFIED by this! His association with Disney goes back even further; he joined the studio in 1966, in - yes, the cliches are true - the mailroom. From there he quickly moved into post-production and foley work (in which sounds are produced in a studio to match onscreen action) with master foley artist Jimmy Macdonald. Macdonald himself had been the voice of Mickey, and when he stepped down, Allwine decided to give the open audition for his replacement a shot. He debuted on "The New Mickey Mouse Club Show" and never looked back.

"There's nothing better than voice acting," he says. "You can be anyone, in any body. I get to go home and say, 'Today I was a mouse, and a duck, and a horse .'" Editor's Note: I worked for a guy who could say the same. Although, it had nothing to do with acting. (He was timid as a mouse, he hid under his desk a lot, and he had the BACK end of the horse down to a fine art).

How many women have served as the voice of Minnie Mouse?
Four, so far -- in addition to Russi, Marcellite Garner (1928 - 1940), Thelma Boardman (1940 - 1942), and Ruth Clifford (1942 - 1952). Plus, rumor has it that Walt Disney himself voiced Minnie a few times in the early cartoons!
Editor's Note: When Danny Kaye was in town, no doubt? (giggle)

The Disney organization has been described as a family, and no one should know better than Russi Taylor.

When she became the voice of Minnie Mouse in 1986, she thought she had taken on a great job - little did she know that she had also found romance. She and Allwine met while voicing the famous mice, and history was made. They heard wedding bells soon after. The two make a visibly affectionate couple, touching, whispering together, and laughing as they meet the press - their relationship seems much smoother than the sometimes rocky one between Mickey and Minnie, who have been known to have spats. Unlike Allwine, Taylor actually sounds quite a bit like her character, with a high, breathy voice. However, as she's quick to demonstrate, she also does the voices of Donald Duck's nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, with ease (she voiced them for the "Ducktales" series). She can also be heard in a less heroic mode as Duchess, the malevolent cat in "Babe."

In fact, if you or your kids watch much in the way of animation, it's a safe bet that you've heard Taylor's voice.

She does two characters on "The Simpsons," and she's also been Pebbles Flintstone, Baby Gonzo on "The Muppet Babies," and characters on "Scooby-Doo," "The Gummi Bears," and many more.

When not working on "Mickey's The Three Musketeers," slated to appear on video and DVD in August, America's most celebrated mice keep mouse - oops! that's "house" - in South Pasadena.

So, will their animated counterparts ever follow them down the aisle?

Taylor thinks not, although Disney once planned to try it.

"They did a survey, and they found that no one really knows how old the mice are," she explains. "Kids think they're their own age, but if they got married, that would make them adults."

So Mickey will always be a bachelor to his public, and Minnie's a single mouse. But behind the scenes, these two are lovebirds for real.
Editor's Note: Ok...time for all the diabetics in the crowd to go get a shot of insulin to ward off the sugar content in this article. Sorry. I should have WARNED you, eh?

Ok...a smidge of trivia to cleanse the palate:

At Disneyland, you'll see a coat of arms at the entrance to Sleeping Beauty Castle. What do they represent?

That's the Disney family coat of arms.


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