Thurl Ravenscroft

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Thurl Ravenscroft
Thurl+Ravenscroft.jpg
Ravenscroft in 1967
Born
Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft

(1914-02-06)February 6, 1914
DiedMay 22, 2005(2005-05-22) (aged 91)
Resting place Crystal Cathedral Memorial Gardens, Garden Grove, California
Alma mater Otis College of Art and Design
Occupation
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1939–2005
Spouse(s)
June Seamans
(m. 1946;died 1999)
Children2

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft ( /ˈθɜːrlˈrvənzkrɒft/ ; February 6, 1914  May 22, 2005) was an American actor and bass singer. He was known as one of the booming voices behind Kellogg's Frosted Flakes animated spokesman Tony the Tiger for more than five decades. He was also the uncredited vocalist for the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" from the classic Christmas television special, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! [1]

Contents

Ravenscroft did some voice-over work and singing for Disney in both the films and the attractions at Disneyland (which were later featured at Walt Disney World). The best known of these attractions are Haunted Mansion as a singing bust, Country Bear Jamboree, Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland Railroad, and Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room as "Fritz".

His voice acting career began in 1940 and lasted until his death in 2005 at age 91. [2]

Early life and career

Ravenscroft left his native Norfolk, Nebraska, in 1933 for California, where he studied at Otis Art Institute. He achieved early success as part of a singing group called The Mellomen. The Mellomen can be heard on many popular recordings of the Big Band Era, including backup for Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, Spike Jones, Jo Stafford, and Rosemary Clooney. Their earliest contribution to a Disney film was for Pinocchio (1940), to which they contributed the song "Honest John". This was deleted from the film, but can still be heard in the supplements on the 2009 DVD. Ravenscroft also voiced Monstro the Whale in Pinocchio. The Mellomen contributed to other Disney films, such as Alice in Wonderland and Lady and the Tramp . The group appeared on camera in a few episodes of the Disney anthology television series; in one instance recording a canine chorus for Lady and the Tramp and in another as a barbershop quartet that reminds Walt Disney of the name of the young newspaper reporter Gallegher.

Ravenscroft is also heard with the quartet on some of the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes with Mel Blanc at Warner Bros. as well as on radio "driving Jack Benny crazy" on The Jack Benny Program as part of The Sportsmen Quartet.

During World War II, Ravenscroft served as a civilian navigator contracted to the U.S. Air Transport Command, spending five years flying courier missions across the north and south Atlantic. Among the notables carried on board his flights were Winston Churchill and Bob Hope. As he told an interviewer: "I flew Winston Churchill to a conference in Algiers and flew Bob Hope to the troops a couple of times. So it was fun." [3]

Ravenscroft sang bass on Rosemary Clooney's "This Ole House", which went to No. 1 in both the United States and Britain in 1954, as well as Stuart Hamblen's original version of that same song. He sang on the soundtrack for Ken Clark as "Stewpot" in South Pacific , one of the top-selling albums of the 1950s. He also backed The DeCastro Sisters on their 1955 top 20 hit, "Boom Boom Boomerang." [4] Singing with the Johnny Mann Singers, [5] his distinctive bass can also be heard as part of the chorus on 28 of their albums that were released during the 1960s and 1970s. He was also the bass singer on Bobby Vee's 1960 Liberty hit record "Devil or Angel". Andy Williams' recording of "The 12 Days of Christmas" features him as well. In the 1980s and 1990s, Ravenscroft was narrator for the annual Pageant of the Masters art show at the Laguna Beach, California, Festival of the Arts.

He sang the opening songs for the two Disney serials used on The Mickey Mouse Club, Boys of the Western Sea and The Hardy Boys: Mystery of the Applegate Treasure.

He sang the "Twitterpatter Song" and "Thumper's Song" on the Disneyland record Peter Cottontail and other Funny Bunnies.

On the Disneyland record All About Dragons, he both provided the narration and sang the songs "The Reluctant Dragon" and "The Loch Ness Monster". [6]

His voice was heard during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as well as the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland as Uncle Theodore, the lead vocalist of the singing busts in the cemetery near the end of the ride. [7] He also played the Narrator in The Story and Song From the Haunted Mansion . Ravenscroft is also heard in the Enchanted Tiki Room as the voice of Fritz the Animatronics parrot, as well as the tree-like Tangaroa tiki god in the pre-show outside the attraction. He was also the voice of the Disneyland Railroad in the 1990s. Further roles include that of The First Mate on The Mark Twain Riverboat and of the American bison head named Buff at The Country Bear Jamboree. [8]

Later career

One of Ravenscroft's best-known uncredited works is as the vocalist for the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch." His name was accidentally omitted from the credits, leading many to believe that the cartoon's narrator, Boris Karloff, sang the song, while others cited Tennessee Ernie Ford as the song's signature voice. [9] The song, now credited to Ravenscroft, peaked on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 32 for the week ending January 2, 2021. Thanks to You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Thurl Ravenscroft has officially hit the Top 40 as a solo artist. [10]

Ravenscroft also sang "No Dogs Allowed" in the Peanuts animated motion picture Snoopy, Come Home and I Was a Teenaged Brain Surgeon for Spike Jones.

For more than 50 years, he was the uncredited voice of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes. His booming bass gave the cereal's tiger mascot a voice with the catchphrase "They're g-r-r-r-eat!!!!". [11]

Various record companies, such as Abbott, Coral, Brunswick, and "X" (a division of RCA) also released singles by Ravenscroft, often in duets with little-known female vocalists, in an attempt to turn the bass-voiced veteran into a pop singer. These efforts were commercially unsuccessful, if often quite interesting. He was also teamed up with the Andrews Sisters (on the Dot Records album The Andrews Sisters Present) on the cover of Johnny Cymbal's "Mr. Bass Man". The Mellomen released some doo-wop records under the name Big John & the Buzzards, a name apparently given to them by the rock-and-roll-hating Mitch Miller.

A devoted Christian, he appeared on many religious television shows such as The Hour of Power . In 1970, he recorded an album called Great Hymns in Story and Song, which featured him singing 10 hymns, each prefaced with the stories of how each hymn came to be, with the background vocals and instrumentals arranged and conducted by Ralph Carmichael.

He said his lifelong dream was to record the entire Bible on tape, but James Earl Jones "beat him out".[ citation needed ] On an episode of the TV variety series Donny & Marie featuring guest stars from the first Star Wars movie, Ravenscroft provided the voice for Darth Vader, voiced in the movie by Jones.[ citation needed ]

Later life and death

Ravenscroft married June Seamans in 1946 and they had two children. June died in 1999 from unknown causes. Ravenscroft semi-retired and did not work at any other studio, but continued to voice Tony the Tiger through 2004 (with limo transportation by Kellogg's) and was also interviewed that year by the Disney "Extinct Attractions Club" website. He died in his home on May 22, 2005, from prostate cancer. He was buried at the Memorial Gardens at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. [2]

In the June 6, 2005, issue of the advertising industry journal Advertising Age , Kellogg's ran an advertisement commemorating Ravenscroft, the headline reading: "Behind every great character is an even greater man." After his death, Lee Marshall replaced him as the voice of Tony the Tiger in the Kellogg's commercials, but some commercials still recycle clips of Ravenscroft.[ citation needed ]

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1939 Sioux Me SingerVoice, Uncredited
1940 Pinocchio Monstro the Whale Voice
Isle of Destiny Sportsman Quartet Member
Little Blabbermouse Bad Tobacco FaceVoice
Prehistoric Porky Bass DinosaurVoice
1941 Dumbo Singer of "Look Out For Mr. Stork" and "Pink Elephants on Parade"Voice
The Nifty Nineties SingerVoice
1942 Wacky Blackout Carrier PigeonVoice
Saludos Amigos Singer of the main title themeVoice
Lost Canyon SingerUncredited
1948 Melody Time SingerVoice
1951 Alice in Wonderland Card PainterVoice
1952 Jack and the Beanstalk Singing voices of two villagers
1953 Peter Pan Singer / PiratesVoice
Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom Singer
1954 Rose Marie Medicine Man
1955 Daddy Long Legs Daydream Sequence SongShort, Voice
Lady and the Tramp Al the Alligator / Singing Pound DogsVoice
1956 Design for Dreaming (singer)Voice
Hardy Boys Theme SongVoice
1958 Paul Bunyan Paul BunyanShort, Voice
1959 Sleeping Beauty Singer
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians Captain the HorseVoice
1962 Gay Purr-ee Hench CatVoice
1963 The Sword in the Stone Sir BartVoice
1964 Mary Poppins Andrew the dog's whimper / Banker / Pig / Animal SoundsVoice
1965 The Man from Button Willow Singer / Reverend / Saloon ManVoice
1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Singer of "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"
1967 The Jungle Book Colonel Hathi's crew
The War Wagon Backup singer on main theme
1968/1977 Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day / The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Singer/Black Honeypot
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Singing Voiceperformed "South American Getaway"
The Trouble with Girls Bass Singerwith the Bible Singers Quartet (The Mellomen)
1970 Horton Hears a Who! Wickersham Brother
The Phantom Tollbooth Lethargians
The Aristocats Billy Bass - Russian CatVoice
1971 The Cat in the Hat Thing OneVoice
Bedknobs and Broomsticks Singing voice of Russian vendor / Various cartoon animal voices
1972 Snoopy, Come Home Singer of "No Dogs Allowed"Voice
The Lorax SingerVoice
1977 The Hobbit Goblins/ChorusVoice
Halloween Is Grinch Night Singer / MonstersVoice
Donny & Marie Darth Vader / Narrator Star Wars Segment
1978 The Small One PotterVoice, Uncredited
1979' Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July The Genie of the Ice ScepterVoice
1980 The Return of the King Goblins/ChorusVoice, Uncredited
1987 The Brave Little Toaster KirbyVoice
1990 Disney Sing Along Songs: Disneyland Fun – It's a Small World Singer of "Grim Grinning Ghosts"
1992 Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers The Black HoleVoice; Uncredited
1992 Aladdin Genie Jafar
1995 A Goofy Movie Bus Driver
1995 Pocahontas Indians
1996 James and the Giant Peach Rhino
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Singer
1996Superior DuckThe Narrator
1997 The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue KirbyVoice;
1998 The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars
1998 Mulan SingerVoice; Uncredited
1999 Tarzan Elephant
1999 I.M. Weasel I.M. Weasel (Singing voice)Final role

Commercials

YearTitleRole
late 1970s-early 1980s Toys R Us Geoffrey the Giraffe
1953–2005 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes Tony the Tiger

Television series

YearTitleRole
1969-1984 Sesame Street John the Cow

Partial solo discography

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References

  1. "Our Cereal Hero". The New York Times. December 25, 2005. Archived from the original on December 4, 2019. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  2. 1 2 "Thurl Ravenscroft, Voice of Tony the Tiger, Dies at 91". The New York Times . May 25, 2005. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  3. "He’s Grrrrreat! The Thurl Ravenscroft Interview," Hogan's Alley #12, 2005
  4. 1955 HITS ARCHIVE: Boom Boom Boomerang - De Castro Sisters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERA1G8jlGiI Retrieved 25 December 2020
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 17, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. Disneyland Record "All About Dragons", DQ-1301.
  7. 365 Days of Magic blog Archived August 4, 2013, at archive.today
  8. "Insider - Oh My Disney". Oh My Disney.
  9. McCracken, Elizabeth (December 25, 2005). "Our Cereal Hero". The New York Times . Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  10. "The Hot 100 Chart". Billboard .
  11. Breton, Marcos (May 3, 1987). "He's 'G-r-r-r-eat!!!' : Tony the Tiger Voices Pleasure". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved March 23, 2012.