Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Thurl stuff.Although I didn't learn the man's name until about eight years ago, I've been listening to Thurl Ravenscroft all my life. Chances are excellent that you have, too. He died yesterday of prostate cancer, and I can't let this moment pass without acknowledging one of my favorite Disney Legends. The truth is, a lot of the time when I'm watching or listening to classic Disney stuff, a good chunk of my enjoyment comes from auditory "Thurl-spotting."

If you've read or heard about Thurl today, you were probably told that he was the voice of Tony the Tiger for over 50 years. You may have also learned that he sang "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the classic Chuck Jones / Dr. Seuss animated special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Well, for a Disney fan, those are the least of Thurl's accomplishments. If you've ever...

Thurl can be heard in all of these--well, except the magazine.

  • watched Mary Poppins,
  • sung along to the Zorro tv show theme song,
  • listened to Disney's Winnie the Pooh records,
  • watched the recording of the Dog Chorus (a.k.a. the Mello Men) whining Home Sweet Home in a Wonderful World of Color segment about Lady and the Tramp
  • ridden on the Mark Twain, visited the Enchanted Tiki Room, sailed past the Pirates of the Caribbean unscathed (but perhaps got a little wet) or listened to singing busts in a Haunted Mansion...

...you've heard Thurl Ravenscroft.

He had this really distinctive deep voice that I became aware of even as a kid. Disney music had a certain sound that I came to recognize as I watched The Wonderful World of Color, and later The Wonderful World of Disney. I didn't associate the "Disney Male Chorus" sound (usually the Mellomen) from Disney projects with the voice that said "They're Grrreat!"--but I should have. Finally, on a mid-1990s visit to Disneyland, on the Disneyland Railroad, another fan told me about Thurl, and it all clicked. Since then I've bought lots of Disney CDs, LPs, VHS and DVDs, and Thurl is on most of them. Somewhere I also have a TeeVee Tunes collection of old TV commercials. Thurl is there, too, singing the virtues of at least two brands of beer, and asking "How Are You Fixed for Blades?"

When crypt doors creak and tombstones quake...Several years ago, back when eBay was new and John and I were doing the yard sales / thrift shops / auctions thing every weekend, I bought an unused, kid's size Tony the Tiger costume. The idea was to send that to Thurl for an autograph, along with one of the Disney CD inserts, probably from the Disneyland / Walt Disney World CD. A heartfelt fan letter would have gone with it. But the address for him was care of Disney, I knew he was already quite old, and I was reluctant to risk losing the CD insert. So I put it off, knowing full well that one of these days, it would be too late.

And now it is.

Goodbye, Thurl. Sorry I never told you how much fun I've had all these years listening to you. Tell Paul Frees hi from me too, okay?


All Things Thurl

Thurl Ravenscroft on IMDB


sakishler said...

Nice tribute. I think I have heard Thurl's name in connection with the Haunted Mansion before. Best Ride Ever!

ryanagi said...

*sigh* They don't make em like Thurl any more.