Monday, May 08, 2006

Diz Voice Session (Part Deux)

Regarding voice actors at Disney Recording Dates: Two of the actors that stand out most vividly in my memory of Diz voice sessions are Vincent Price and Pearl Bailey... Price had been an actor and star since the 1930s. He was tall, like six foot vfive inches, and he was affable. One of the first times I met him, out at the curb of the Disney parking lot, he told me he never understood why actors copped attitudes (I'm paraphrasing.) "How difficult is it to be pleasant," he said. "It's not like we're digging ditches. And if you want to survive in this business you have to do everything. Television, movies, commercials, voice work. I don't think an actor can afford to be a prima donna or turn down jobs. Not if they want to keep working..." I saw Price get a little testy on two occasions. The first time he was on the stage talking about a movie he'd made long before called "The Big Circus." The flick was released in 1959, had a terrible process shot of David Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet's older son) walking across Niagra Falls on a tightrope, and entertained me at the Montrose theatre when I was ten. I burst forth with: "I remember that film! I saw it when I was a kid!" Price fixed me with a withering glance and said: "Thanks a lot." His other bout of testiness was when he'd done thirty-five readings of a three-word line and the director wanted a thirty-sixth. Price snapped: "I've done it every way I can do it. Let's go on to something else." And we did. (It brought to mind an Tom Hanks interview I read a decade ago after he had done the first "Toy Story." Hanks remarked how he had to give a lot of permuations of the dialogue. Yeah, that's pretty much it. Do it fast. Do it slow. Do it happy. Do it sad. Until the animator, director and various story people in the booth are happy. And Pearl Bailey. She was the first actor who made a big impression on me. Pearl was warm and ebullient, and definitely not afraid to show emotion. And the memory I'll take to my death bed is the afternoon she was telling a funny story to the crew down on the stage and putting her whole being into it. I was sitting on a stool three feet in front of her, listening raptly with everyone else. Pearl told the punchline and broke into loud laughter. The next thing I knew, she had grabbed my head as she shook with mirth and mashed my face into her chest. Definitely the most vivid thirty seconds I spent on a recording stage.


Anonymous said...

I'm with Price on the inanity of THIRTY-PLUS takes of ANY line, forget a 3 word one.
That's got to be plain BAD direction. Not to mention squandering an actor of great reputation, advanced age, and deserving of the kid glove treatment(even if he usually eschewed it. Same goes for the supposedly laughable Orson Welles outtakes(we're supposed to, I guess, laugh AT Welles for being a primma donna; instead, I totally agree with him and cheer him on versus the clueless dope in the booth).
Hell, if the man isn't giving you what you want after a reasonable number of tries--move on! Or just make do....or try again later. Whatever. Actors are a precious resource, not machines. There's a reason old timers told angry stories about William Wyler till the day they died: because even when a "great" director asks for dozens of takes, it's insulting and wasteful and just needling. Harumpf!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm this is classic. I wish I had something to swap. I do remember sitting on a flight to London next to actress Joan Fontaine. (rival sister to Olivia De Havalland) I was watching a DVD of GWTW and Ms. Fontaine said "I don't know how you can watch that. Your going to rot your brain"
I do love me some Pearly-mae. Her song Fish Fry always gets me laughing.

One time wanna be Animator and prank caller to one Woollie Reitherman. My most favorite of the 9OM
Danny Thompson
I went on to be Ms Fontaine's House MGR (I was Max to her Desmond)


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