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How Uncredited Voice Over Roles in Disney Films "Kept the Magic"

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

August 13, 2010

Comments (9)

Empty mirrorHave you ever considered how many voice over roles went uncredited in the earliest days of animated film?

This article looks at a specific example regarding one of Walt Disney's most famous animated masterpieces and explores the lengths Disney went to in order to stake his claim to a franchise voice.

Which film and voice artist am I talking about?

Find out in today's VOX Daily!

Someday, My Credits Will Come

Unlike the success and attention most animation voice actors experience today, identities of the first voice actors were often kept under lock and key so as to preserve the "mystery" of the voice.

These were the days of contracts and indenture that effectively tied talent to a certain production company and dictated much of what they were able to pursue in their careers.

Can you think of any instances of when this may have happened? Let's take a look at the mystique surrounding Walt Disney's animated masterpieces from 1937 to 1942.

One Way Walt Disney Kept The Magic

In his first animated feature film, Walt Disney purposefully hid the identity of the voice of Snow White, the 18-year old Adriana Caselotti (1916-1997), effectively rendering her voice property of Disney. The only other film role she had was a bit part in The Wizard of Oz (1939).

When approached, Disney also denied Caselotti an opportunity to appear on Jack Benny's radio show.

For the record, the entire voice cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) went uncredited. This pattern continued for a number of years including films such a Pinocchio (1940), Dumbo (1941) and Bambi (1942) to name a few.

It wasn't until the mid 1940s that voice actors were credited for their roles in Disney's animated films including features such as Saludos Amigos (1943), The Three Caballeros (1944), Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Cinderella (1950), 101 Dalmations (1961), The Jungle Book (1967), Robin Hood (1972) and so on.

By not sharing who the voices were, Disney was able to keep those voices under lock and key so to speak. The result of this decision was that certain voices, such as that of Snow White, were unique to his franchise and not associated with other characters or roles. In a very real way, this action insured the franchise, its characters and its iconic voices.

Modern Day Magic Keeping

While studios adopted the practice over six decades ago of acknowledging who talent are in animated films, there are ways that they can still "keep the magic" as it were by having artists sign agreements that would keep them from announcing their involvement or sharing details about an upcoming feature, at least for a time. These agreements are called Non-Disclosure Agreements or NDAs.

This may mean that in addition to not talking about it in the literal sense, a voice artist also cannot share information online via Facebook, Twitter or any other medium that could breach their contract on a global scale. To learn more about this, you can check out an article I wrote for Peter O'Connell's blog about casting and social media.

Do You Know of Someone Who Deserves Recognition?

To give you full disclosure, Caselotti did enjoy publicity later on as the voice of Snow White when Disney sought to honour its stars and released anniversary versions of the film. She also went on to participate in many celebrations over the years and received recognition for her work.

That being said, numerous roles still go uncredited because of the number of lines one might say or other reasons. The likelihood that you'll receive any press is slim to none unless you share the information yourself.

If there are people you know of who ought to receive credit but were not given any, feel free to add a comment and let us know about their roles!

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Diane Diederich

Related Topics: Adriana Caselotti, animation, credits, Disney, radio, Snow White, Voice overs, Walt Disney


Comments


    I don't think Uncle Walt is to be commended for this course of action. These people deserved recognition for their hard work and to pull this sort of corporate "WE OWN YOU" move is a nasty thing to do to someone - especially someone 18 years old who wants to make a name for themselves in the business.

    Posted by:

      I always thought it made Walt a hypocrite to require the voice talents in the early years to remain silent and uncredited, yet he was seen on camera performing Mickey's voice.

      I especially felt bad for Caselotti. She seems to have been denied both stardom and a more successful career at her young age because of her contract with Disney.

      And if it hadn't been for Mel Blanc's determination in negotiating to get screen credit, he might have had the same fate as the early Disney voice talents. (I believe Blanc also attempted unsuccessfully to copyright his voices.)

      To my knowledge, the most infamous (repeat) case of uncredited voice talent goes to Marni Nixon, who dubbed the singing voices of some of Hollywood's leading ladies: Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn. Nixon would later bill herself as "The Voice of Hollywood."

      I had a Disney vinyl record as a child with Nixon singing as Mary Poppins, which I'm sure Julie Andrews gave her full approval to because it was reported that when Andrews met Nixon on the set of "The Sound of Music" she told her, "I really love your work!"

      Nixon also was the singing voice of Grandmother Fa in Disney's Mulan.

      Another infamous (and lesser-known) uncredited voice role was Paul Frees, who dubbed Tony Curtis' falsetto as Josephine in "Some Like It Hot."

      Posted by:

        Alexis Serrano (my daughter) was the voice of the Vulcan Student girl in the last Star Trek movie. Even though she was uncredited, she is getting residual checks so that's something. I have tried repeatedly to get her on IMDB without success.

        Posted by:
        • Robert Leach
        • August 14, 2010 9:43 PM

          I didn't see any mention of Kathryn Beaumont who voiced "Alice" in Disney's Alice In Wonderland.

          She's English and tapped for duty when she was about 15. She became a schoolteacher just blocks away from the Disney studio in Burbank. Married name was Levine. Last I heard she was divorced?/widowed? and living in the Riverside, CA area. Nice lady; met her in the mid 80s. Was smart enough to have a photo taken with her! =)

          Jay Lloyd
          Benicia, CA

          Posted by:
          • Jay Lloyd
          • August 14, 2010 10:04 PM

            Craig,

            It seems to me I always knew the name Marni Nixon. So, even though she may have been uncredited, there were articles written about her work, especially at the time of "My Fair Lady."

            That was one of the all time ironies of Hollywood.

            Julie Andrews was a smash hit on Broadway -- but they figured she wasn't well known enough to carry the motion picture -- so they chose Audrey Hepburn with Marni Nixon singing. OK -- but then came one of the all time best selling films "The Sound of Music" carried by Julie Andrews.

            Posted by:

              As an aside to Craig's mention of Paul Frees. . . Frees also dubbed Herve Villechaize's entire performance in 1971's "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight," one of De Niro's earliest films.

              Posted by:
              • Dave Mallow
              • August 15, 2010 2:25 AM

                At various places (ice show) (Disneyland) (Park in Fla) I have been the voice of Doc the Dwarf but was always well paid. No credit but great memories of doing the work and spending the money. Thanks to Disney's Sue Lum and a prayerful thought for Mary Kay Bergman who once was also Snow White. Resquiat in Pace! Love from Del Roy -now in Eugene, Or.

                Posted by:
                • Del Roy
                • August 16, 2010 10:00 AM

                  I am a radio personality, and would love, love, love to audition for a disney character voice for an a animated project. Please contact me with information about it.

                  Posted by:
                  • Franyora Clophus
                  • November 15, 2010 11:40 PM

                    Hi and Good morning,

                    As you will see my name is Paul Randall and i live in the UK in cenrtal London Westminster,as a family man with 4 girls i have been there voice of walt disneys Donald Duck , dressing up,and acting the part, as my girls are growing up and friends and family say, "Paul you should contact disney and work for them doing Donalds voice"

                    Can anyone help

                    Regards

                    Paul

                    Posted by:
                    • Paul Randall
                    • June 11, 2011 5:55 AM

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