Friday, May 22, 2009

RIP Wayne Allwine

This is especially sad:

Wayne Allwine, the actor who voiced Mickey Mouse for more than 30 years, has died.

The Walt Disney Co. says Allwine died Monday of complications from diabetes, with Russi Taylor, his wife of 20 years and the voice of Minnie Mouse, by his side. He was 62.

"Wayne dedicated his entire professional life to Disney," chief executive Robert Iger said in a statement Wednesday. "Over the last 32 years, (he) gave so much joy, happiness and comfort to so many around the world by giving voice to our most beloved, iconic character, Mickey Mouse."

A Southern California native, Allwine joined Disney in 1966 when he took a job in the mail room. He went on to work in the sound effects department and began voicing the company's main mouse in 1977.

His falsetto can be heard in 1983's "Mickey's Christmas Carol," 1988's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and at Disney theme parks around the world. He won an Emmy Award in 1986 for his sound editing on the NBC series "Amazing Stories." ...

This hits me hard for a simple reason. When I was a week out of high school, I teamed up with Wayne Allwine in the Disney print shop.

We were both traffic boys. I was eighteen, Wayne was twenty. I was a gawky, pimply-faced teenager with a spotty work record (I'd been fired from the Montrose Public Library six months before), Wayne was a rock musician with several hit records behind him. (He was a member of The Arrows -- as in, "Davey Allen and the Arrows" -- and had toured and recorded.)

But here we were, side by side at a print shop work table, wrapping packages and running out to make deliveries all day long. Wayne was the funniest human being I had ever met. He told hilarious stories about doing rock and roll. He performed dead-on impressions of the other traffic boys (the humor of which which doesn't translate well to a blog 42 years later; you would have had to have been there). He made fun of current events, joked with the print shop guys, found the funny side of freaking everything. He was just a non-stop circus main event, and I looked forward to coming in and wrapping packages every summer day of 1967, because Wayne would be there to entertain everyone within earshot, and I (oh lucky me) was the closest.

Wayne's dream back then was to be an editor and a sound guy, goals that he achieved in the course of a long career. Becoming the Voice of Mr. Mouse was not then on his radar; at least, he didn't voice the goal to me.

Though I went off to college at the end of the summer and Wayne stayed on at Disney, we intersected numerous times over the years. When I returned to the studio in the late seventies, Wayne was in the sound department ... and grousing that the studio wouldn't give him a shot at being a film editor. One day he said to me that the only way he would get to be an editor was if he left and did it someplace else, which he ultimately did.

But Wayne was first and foremost a Disney guy, and after he'd earned his place on the editors' roster at another company, he came back to the studio. And at some point in there he became the voice of Mickey Mouse, a job he did with humor and sure-footed professionalism for decades.

But then why the hell not? Anybody who could spin jokes all day long while wrapping tightly-creased packages of eight by eleven letter-bond paper could perform a pitch-perfect Mickey Mouse in his sleep.

So good night, Mr. Allwine. It was a rare pleasure knowing you, there in the Disney print shop. It really doesn't seem that long ago.

5 comments:

Peter said...

Steve - I am Wayne's son, Peter. Thank you for this beautiful tribute. Dad always spoke of his years in traffic and how much he loved working there and just what fun it was. My heartfelt thanks.

Peter Allwine

Anonymous said...

My name is Rich and I work at GEO Chiropractic Clinic. We all here heard the news and are deeply saddened. It was a great day everytime they BOTH came into our office. Our hearts and deepest sympathy go out to the family and Russi.
God Bless.

The GEO Gang.

Rick Schneider said...

I just saw on Yahoo that Wayne Allwine died.

I can't stop crying. He was such a good man. I loved working with he and his wife Russi when I was at Disney directing Mouseworks and House of Mouse.

Wayne and Russi invited me up to their studio - sadly I never took them up on the offer.

He told me many stories about working with Jim MacDonald.

Wayne also told me a funny story, that while he and Russi were staying at Disneyworld, he called the front desk to request a wake up call. When the phone rang in the morning it was him on the other end voicing Mickey telling him it was "time
to rise and shine."

The news of his passing upsets me so much. He made so many people happy. He made them forget about their problems for a while and smile. People
like that don't deserve to die so young.

My heart goes out to Russi and her family.

I'm greatful I got the opportunity to meet and work with you Wayne.

Rick

Linda said...

Wayne was my first boyfriend in jr. high! We laughed all the time and my parents always remembered him. I spoke to him about 15 years ago or so and found him to still be the same funny guy. He adored his wife and family and I was so happy that life turned out so well. I was so shocked to hear of his passing. He brought so much joy to so many. My father always said "Linda, only you would date Mickey Mouse!" I am glad to have known him and my heart goes out to his family and friends. I am so sorry for your loss. I know he will be sorely missed.
Linda Edwards
Walter Reed Jr. High School 1962

davie said...

I lost a longtime friend this week. Wayne Allwine was an "Arrow" in the 60's and then in 1977, he became the 3rd official voice of "Mickey Mouse". His marriage to Russi Taylor in 1991 gave me a fun fact to add to most of my interviews, she is the voice of "Minnie Mouse"!

As all of you can imagine, I am devastated by this. A few weeks ago I transferred some tracks from the 60's to be included on the new album and he is on one of those.

A fan/friend who has a 'zine in England asked about the tunes Wayne was on. I sent this:

The most "famous" of the tracks on which he appeared were "Cycle-Delic" (he did the rhythm guitar, the saxaphone mouthpiece solo and the harmonica solo) and "Mind Transferral"...also on rhythm and reciting "Mary Had A Little Lamb" with my first wife (the tape was turned upside down for the recording so the nursery rhyme came out backwards). Also, he was on "Blues Trip" and "13th Harley" plus an unreleased version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" that I had EQ'd four weeks ago to be part of the next album.

He was not on many tracks but we did plenty of appearances including a month long tour of the U.S. in '67.

He was a great friend, a great talent and one of the nicest guys I ever knew. I can't quite convey the incredible sadness I feel for the loss.
Davie Allan

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