The first time I saw Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor was at Disneyland in the early 90s. They were set up outside of the Plaza Inn doing radio interviews. Although later in life they were much skinnier, at this point they were ‘larger’ than the average person. Wayne had this amazing full beard (which was very out of place in the park). It was a little chilly out and they were dressed in matching plaid outfits. Thinking this was some form of celebrity appearance I hadn’t seen before, I stuck around to see what was going on. A few minutes later I was surprised to hear two very familiar mousey voices coming out of these two large people, it was Mickey Mouse and Minnie.
It was almost a decade before I really got to talk with Wayne and Russi and hear them speak at length. In the meantime they had gotten married (in 1997 to each other in Hawaii) and continued to do amazing work both for the Disney company and other projects. Turns out, you would be hard pressed to find a nicer couple of people then Wayne and Russi. They were always happen to meet with fellow Disney fans and spin a tale or two of their experiences as Mickey and Minnie.
Wayne was trained as a sound effects guy and foley artist by one of the best in the business, Jimmy MacDonald. Along the way he learned to do Mickey’s Voice from Jimmy, who himself took over from Walt. Wayne first did Mickey’s voice in 1977 as a lead in voice over for the New Mickey Mouse Club and had his first feature animated voice work for 1983′s “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”
I recall one anecdote Wayne told at an NFFC event, he had asked Jimmy MacDonald for some advice about doing Mickey’s voice and Jimmy said “remember, you’re just filling in for the boss.”
In 2008 Wayne and Russi were named Disney Legends in a ceremony at the studios. Recently Wayne had been combating complications related to diabetes and was said to be in need of a kidney transplant. Sadly he passed away May 18th as a result of his illness. Official confirmation was made on his Disney Legend bio.
I like to think that now all three voices of Mickey Mouse are reunited somewhere discussing the affect that one little character had on their lives and on the world. Our lives are all richer for their efforts.
Everyone here at The Disney Blog wishes peace and condolences to Russi and the rest of Wayne’s family.
(below the cut is a video of Wayne and Russi talking about their roles and Mickey and Minnie)