Friday, July 23, 2010

unKNOWN Actors: Verna Felton

Have you ever been watching a Disney movie and you hear a voice that sounds familiar to you, but you are not sure why? Maybe you have ridden an attraction in a Disney park and heard a voice that you know you heard before, but you are not sure where you heard it or whose voice it is? Well, this blog series is here to change all that! I want to expose the unknown voice artists throughout Disney and show you how well you actually do know them!

Disney is known for reusing actors for different voice parts. When they hear a voice they like why should they change it? It’s because of this that you may hear one voice and people in the room can name multiple characters with that voice.

The first actress we are going to look at is Verna Felton. She was born in Salinas, California on July 20th of 1890 and died in Hollywood December 14, 1966. She was a very famous television and radio actress, but this is probably not why Disney fans would know her.

The first time Disney fans would see….or rather, hear Verna was in 1941 as the Elephant Matriarch, aka the mean elephant with the red headdress, in Dumbo. Fun fact: Mrs. Jumbo’s one line, “Jumbo Junior” was also said by Verna.

It would be 9 years until we hear Verna again, but in a much different part, playing the bubbly Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.

The next year, Verna reprised her role as a villain of sorts by playing the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, using her powerful voice to belt out such famous lines as “Off with her head!”

She had a very small part in Peter Pan, doing the voice for Squaw, the large native woman who tells Wendy to "get ‘em Firewood!"

In 1955, she is the voice for Aunt Sarah, the pushy bossy aunt who owns the Siamese Cats in Lady and the Tramp.

After a few years, she is heard as the self-appointed leader of the good fairies and lover of the color pink, Flora in Sleeping Beauty.

Right after Sleeping Beauty, she provided the voice for Eloise in Goliath II, a smaller Disney production.

Verna held so much talent and lent her voice to some memorable Disney characters. Even though she sadly died in 1966, she was able to share her talents with one more Disney character, and fittingly, it was with the same type of character with which she got her Disney start! The year after her death, she was heard as Winifred, the wife of Captain Haiti in The Jungle Book, an elephant.

When a typical Disney fan hears the name Verna Felton, they may not recognize the name, but all you have to do is play her voice and they immediately could name at least one of her characters. The villain roles seemed to fit her shrill, powerful voice, while for the Fairy Godmother and Flora, she had a bit softer voice.

There are quite a few people who have such a long Disney record, but no one knows of them! I hope to be able to share their names and talents with you! Let us know if there are any actors or actresses who should be featured in this article and if you have any questions, just send me an email!

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