25 Great Voice Actors from the “Classic Era” of Feature-Length Disney Animated Movies (1937-1977)

I spent most of my childhood living overseas in Europe and Middle East. As a general rule, we didn’t have many options in terms of English-language television and current movies — this was the 90s, so digital streaming was not really a thing yet. As a result, I watched old movies, mostly the same 15 or so movies that my parents owned. It was mostly Disney movies and a few very random others (e.g. Wayne’s World, The Field of Dreams, etc.). But the movies we owned were all classic Disney — not the most popular Disney of the time. The ones we owned were the movies that preceded Disney’s big revival in the late 80s and early 90s spurred by hits like The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), and The Lion King (1994). Those hits were big when I was a kid, but I just wasn’t into them because we didn’t own.

So the Disney voices and animation styles that I most enjoyed and that I got really used to growing up were from what I would consider the “classic era” of feature-length Disney animation. I know that’s a somewhat arbitrary designation that encompasses various styles and periods. But it’s useful for me just the same. It’s an era that extends from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 and through to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Rescuers in 1977. For context, here are the major feature-length majority-animated films that Disney released during that period:

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  • Pinocchio (1940)
  • Fantasia (1940)
  • The Reluctant Dragon (1941)
  • Dumbo (1941)
  • Bambi (1942)
  • The Three Caballeros (Anthology film) (1945)
  • Make Mine Music (Anthology film) (1946)
  • Fun and Fancy Free (Anthology film) (1947)
  • Melody Time (Anthology film) (1948)
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
  • Cinderella (1950)
  • Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  • Peter Pan (1953)
  • Lady and the Tramp (1955)
  • Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
  • The Sword in the Stone (1963)
  • The Jungle Book (1967)
  • The Aristocats (1970)
  • Robin Hood (1973)
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
  • The Rescuers (1977)

One of the fun things you’ll notice if you watch those older Disney movies is that they seem to recycle both character types and occasionally even animation sequences, as well as voice actors. Some of the best and most memorable voice actors keep showing up again and again. I was reminded of this because I recently decided to get rid of my Disney+ subscription and have been rewatching some old Disney movies just for fun. It made me decide to finally do a little more research about some of the wonderful voices of my childhood and make a list for you.

I ended up with 25 on the list, which, as usual, is longer than I initially intended. I did include a few voice actors who were better known for their work on shorter releases—people like Pinto Colvig (long-time voice of Goofy and Pluto) and Clarence Nash (long-time voice of Donald Duck). I also included people who voiced some pretty regrettable Disney characters—that is, some of the more racist ones, such as Dandy “Jim” Crow (in Dumbo), the Indian Chief (in Peter Pan), and Shun Gon the Chinese cat (in The Aristocats)—but I included them because they did memorable voice work in other pictures as well.

In any case, many of these voices are unforgettable and have been burned into my brain from childhood. To all of these actors and actresses, I just want to say: I’m forever grateful.

1.) Phil Harris

Phil Harris (1904–1995) was an American musician, actor and comedian. As a voice actor, he is best known for his roles as Baloo in The Jungle Book (1967), Thomas O’Malley in The Aristocats (1970), and Little John in Robin Hood (1973). As a singer, he also recorded a #1 novelty hit record, “The Thing” (1950).

Baloo in The Jungle Book (1967)
Thomas O’Malley in The Aristocats (1970)
Little John in Robin Hood (1973)

2.) Sterling Holloway

Sterling Holloway Jr. (1905–1992) was an American actor who appeared in over 100 films and 40 shows. He did a lot of voice acting for Disney, most famously playing Mr. Stork in Dumbo (1941), Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967), Roquefort the Mouse in The Aristocats (1970) and Winnie the Pooh in all the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the feature-length anthology film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

Mr. Stork in Dumbo (1941)
Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Kaa the Snake in The Jungle Book (1967)
Roquefort the Mouse in The Aristocats (1970)
Winnie the Pooh in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

3.) Eleanor Audley

Eleanor Audley (1905–1991) was an American actress best known for her roles as aristocratic, somewhat villainous matrons. She is best remembered as Oliver Douglas’s mother Eunice on the sitcom Green Acres (1965–1969), and as the voices of two Disney villainesses: Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950) and Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950)
Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty (1959)

4.) J. Pat O’Malley

J. Pat O’Malley (1904–1985) was an English singer and character actor who appeared in many American films. As a voice actor, he played the characters Cyril Proudbottom and Mr. Winkie in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Walrus and Carpenter, and Mother Oyster in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Jasper and the Colonel in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), the Pearly Drummer, Master of Hounds, and the Huntsman in Mary Poppins (1964), Colonel Hathi the Elephant and Buzzie the Vulture in The Jungle Book (1967), and finally Otto the Blacksmith in Robin Hood (1973).

Cyril Proudbottom in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Mr. Winkie in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Tweedledum and Tweedledee in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Walrus and Carpenter in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Jasper Baddun in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
The Colonel, an Old English Sheepdog in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Colonel Hathi the Elephant in The Jungle Book (1967)
Buzzie the Vulture in The Jungle Book (1967)
Otto the Dog Blacksmith in Robin Hood (1973)

5.) Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson (1913–1971) was an American radio personality and voice actor who is best known as the voice of Droopy in most MGM cartoons from 1943 to 1958. As a voice actor for Disney, he also played the White Rabbit and Dodo in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Mr. Smee in Peter Pan (1953), Jock, Bull, Policeman at the Zoo, Dachsie, and Joe in Lady and the Tramp (1955), King Hubert in Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Uncle Waldo in The Aristocats (1970). 

White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Dodo in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Mr. Smee in Peter Pan (1953)
Jock in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Bull in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Joe (right) in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
King Hubert in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Uncle Waldo the Drunk Gander in The Aristocats (1970)
Droopy in numerous MGM cartoons (1943-1958) (non-Disney)

6.) Verna Felton

Verna Felton (1890–1966) was an American actress known for her husky voice and no-nonsense attitude. She is best remembered as the voice of numerous characters in Disney animated films, including the Elephant Matriarch and Mrs. Jumbo in Dumbo (1941), the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (1950), the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp (1955), Flora and Queen Leah in Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Winifred the Elephant in The Jungle Book (1967). She also voiced Fred’s mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople in Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones (1962–1963).

The Elephant Matriarch in Dumbo (1941)
Mrs. Jumbo in Dumbo (1941)
The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella (1950)
The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Flora in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Winifred the Elephant in The Jungle Book (1967)
Pearl Slaghoople (Fred’s mother-in-law) in The Flintstones (1962–1963) (non-Disney)

7.) Barbara Luddy

Barbara Luddy (1908–1979) was an American actress best known for her voice acting for Walt Disney Studios in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Her roles included Lady in Lady and the Tramp (1955), Merryweather in Sleeping Beauty (1959), Rover in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Mother Sexton the Church Mouse and Mother Rabbit in Robin Hood (1973), and Kanga in all the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the anthology feature-length movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

Lady in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Merryweather in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Mother Sexton the Church Mouse in Robin Hood (1973)
Mother Rabbit in Robin Hood (1973)

Kanga (Roo’s mom) in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

8.) John Fiedler

John Fiedler (1925–2005) was an American character actor and voice actor whose career spanned more than 55 years in stage, film, television and radio. Among his best-known roles are the nervous Juror #2 in 12 Angry Men (1957), Vinnie in the film The Odd Couple (1968), and Emil Peterson, the hen-pecked husband on The Bob Newhart Show. He is also known for his voice acting roles, including as Father Sexton the Church Mouse in Robin Hood (1973), Piglet in the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the anthology feature-length movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), Deacon Owl in The Rescuers (1977), Porcupine in The Fox and the Hound (1981), and Rudy the Old Man in The Emperor’s New Groove (2000). He continued to be Disney’s primary voice for the character of Piglet up until his death in 2005, reprising the role in The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005).

Father Sexton the Church Mouse in Robin Hood (1973)
Piglet in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) (and subsequent Pooh films)
Deacon Owl in The Rescuers (1977)
Porcupine in The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Rudy the Old Man in The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

9.) Pat Buttram

Maxwell Emmett Buttram (1915–1994), professionally known as Pat Buttram, was an American actor known for playing the sidekick of Gene Autry and for playing Mr. Haney in the television series Green Acres. He had a distinctive voice that, in his own words, “never quite made it through puberty,” and was able to find late-career success as a voice actor in several Disney roles, including as Napoleon in The Aristocats (1970), the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973), Luke the Muskrat in The Rescuers (1977), and Chief the Hunting Dog in The Fox and the Hound (1981).

Napoleon (left) in The Aristocats (1970)
Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood (1973)
Luke the Drunk Muskrat in The Rescuers (1977)
Chief the Hunting Dog in The Fox and the Hound (1981)

10.) George Lindsey

George Lindsey (1928–2012) was an American comedian and character actor best known for his role as Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show. As a Disney voice actor, he played the supporting characters Lafayette in The Aristocats (1970), Trigger in Robin Hood (1973), and Deadeye in The Rescuers (1977).

Lafayette the Basset Hound in The Aristocats (1970)
Trigger the Vulture Guardsman in Robin Hood (1973)
Deadeye the Rabbit Fisherman (center) in The Rescuers (1977)

11.) Kathryn Beaumont

Kathryn Beaumont Levine (1938-) is a retired English-American actress, singer and school teacher. She is best known for providing Disney animated films with the voices of both Alice in Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Wendy Darling in Peter Pan (1953), for which she was named a Disney Legend in 1998.

Alice in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Wendy Darling (right) in Peter Pan (1953)

12.) James “Jimmy” MacDonald

James “Jimmy” MacDonald (1906–1991) was a Scottish-American foley (sound) artist, voice actor, musician, and conductor, who is best remembered as the original head of the Disney sound effects department and the voice of Mickey Mouse from 1947 to 1978. As a Disney voice actor, he also played the roles of Dopey in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Lumpjaw in Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Jaq, Gus, and Bruno in Cinderella (1950), Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland (1951), the Wolf in The Sword in the Stone (1963), and Evinrude, Brutus, and Nero in The Rescuers (1977).

Dopey in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Mickey Mouse in numerous Disney short films and anthologies (1947–1978)
Lumpjaw in Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
Jaq and Gus in Cinderella (1950)
Dormouse in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Wolf in The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Evinrude (mostly sound effects) in The Rescuers (1977)
Brutus and Nero in The Rescuers (1977)

13.) Eva Gabor

Eva Gabor (1919–1995) was a Hungarian-American actress, businesswoman, singer, and socialite. She was most widely known for her role as Lisa Douglas on the 1965–71 sitcom Green Acres. As a Disney voice actress, she also played the roles of Duchess in The Aristocats (1970) and Miss Bianca in both The Rescuers (1977) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990).

Duchess in The Aristocats (1970)
Miss Bianca in The Rescuers (1977)
Miss Bianca (left) in The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

14.) Paul Winchell

Paul Winchell (1922–2005) was an American ventriloquist, comedian, actor, humanitarian, and inventor. From 1950 to 1954, he hosted The Paul Winchell Show, and from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, he made numerous appearances in major TV series such as Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, McMillan & Wife, The Donna Reed Show, and The Beverly Hillbillies. He also found success as a voice actor in Disney animated movies, including as the voice of Tigger in the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the anthology movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), as Shun Gon the Chinese Cat in The Aristocats (1970), and as Boomer in The Fox and the Hound (1981). Outside Disney, he was also known as the voice of the characters Dick Dastardly and Gargamel in several Hanna-Barbara cartoon series.

Shun Gon the Chinese Cat (RACISM alert!) in The Aristocats (1970)
Tigger in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Boomer in The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Dick Dastardly in several Hanna-Barbara series (1968–1999) (non-Disney role)
Gargamel in The Smurfs cartoon series (1981-88) (non-Disney role)

15.) Thurl Ravenscroft

Thurl Ravenscroft (1914–2005) was an American actor and bass singer best known as the booming voice behind Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes animated spokesman Tony the Tiger for more than five decades. As a voice actor for Disney, he was often used as a lead singer in films such as Dumbo (1941), Melody Time (1948), Peter Pan (1953), and Sleeping Beauty (1959), and played the voice roles of such characters as Monstro the Whale in Pinocchio (1940), Card Painter in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Al the Alligator and the Singing Pound Dogs in Lady and the Tramp (1955), Captain the Horse in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Sir Bart in The Sword in the Stone (1963), Colonel Hathi’s crew in The Jungle Book (1967), and Billy Bass the Russian Cat in The Aristocats (1970). He is also known as the voice of Kirby in The Brave Little Toaster (1987) and its sequels, and as the vocalist for the classic song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from MGM’s Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966).

Monstro the Whale in Pinocchio (1940)
Card Painter in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Al the Alligator in Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Captain the Horse in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Sir Bart in The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Colonel Hathi’s crew in The Jungle Book (1967)
Billy Bass the Russian Cat in The Aristocats (1970)
Tony the Tiger in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes commercials (1953–2005) (non-Disney role)
Singer of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) (non-Disney role)
Kirby in The Brave Little Toaster (1987) and sequels (initially a non-Disney role)

16.) Clarence Nash

Clarence “Ducky” Nash (1904–1985) was an American voice actor best known as the original voice of Donald Duck. He has a long list of Disney animation voice credits, including in the roles of Figaro in Pinocchio (1940), the Bullfrog in Bambi (1942), Ichabod’s Horse in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Dinah in Alice and Wonderland (1951), and most notably as Donald Duck in such films as The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), and Fun and Fancy Free (1947), as well as numerous film shorts.

Figaro in Pinocchio (1940)
Donald Duck in numerous short and anthology films like The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944) (above, center) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
Ichabod’s Horse in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
Dinah in Alice and Wonderland (1951)

17.) Pinto Colvig

Vance Colvig Sr. (1892–1967), known professionally as Pinto Colvig, was an American vaudeville actor, voice actor, newspaper cartoonist and circus performer. Colvig was the original voice behind the Disney characters Goofy and Pluto, as well as Bozo the Clown. He also played the roles of Sleepy and Grumpy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Goofy (as well as Pluto and Bozo) in numerous short films and Fun and Fancy Free (1947), Aracuan the Bird in The Three Caballeros (1944) and Melody Time (1948), the Flamengo in Alice in Wonderland (1951), and one of Maleficent’s Goons in Sleeping Beauty (1959).

Sleepy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Grumpy (right) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Goofy (as well as Pluto) in numerous Disney short and anthology films like Fun and Fancy Free (1947) (above, middle)
Aracuan Bird in The Three Caballeros (1944) and Melody Time (1948)
Flamengo in Alice in Wonderland (1951)

18.) Carole Shelley

Carole Shelley (1939–2018) was a British-American actress who made a name for herself on the American stage, playing characters like Gwendolyn Pigeon in The Odd Couple and Madame Morrible in the original Broadway cast of Wicked. She won a Tony Award for her performance in The Elephant Man in 1979. She also lent her voice to several roles in Disney animated films, including as Amelia Gabble the Goose in The Aristocats (1970), Lady Kluck in Robin Hood (1973), and Lachesis the Fate in Hercules (1997).

Amelia Gabble the Goose (pink bonnet) in The Aristocats (1970)
Lady Kluck in Robin Hood (1973)
Lachesis the Fate (blue one, right) in Hercules (1997)

19.) Monica Evans

Monica Evans (1940-) is an English actress known for her portrayal of Cecily Pigeon in both the Broadway and movie versions of The Odd Couple. She also provided voices for two characters in Disney animated films–Abigail Gabble the Goose in The Aristocats (1970) and Maid Marian in Robin Hood (1973)–both alongside her co-star and onscreen “sister” from The Odd Couple, Carole Shelley (above).

Abigail Gabble the Goose (blue bonnet) in The Aristocats (1970)
Maid Marian in Robin Hood (1973)

20.) Candy Candido

Jonathan “Candy” Candido (1913–1999) was an American radio performer, bass player, vocalist and animation voice actor best remembered for his famous line “I’m feeling mighty low,” which became a national catchphrase in the late 1940s for its use on The Jimmy Durante Show. His deep, distinctive voice gained him roles in several Disney films including as the Indian Chief in Peter Pan (1953), Maleficent’s Head Goon in Sleeping Beauty (1959), the Captain of the Guards in Robin Hood (1973), and Fidget the Bat in The Great Mouse Detective (1986). He also voiced the Angry Apple Tree in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the Awful DYNN in The Phantom Tollbooth (1970).

Indian Chief (RACISM alert!) in Peter Pan (1953)
Maleficent’s Head Goon in Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The Captain of the Guards in Robin Hood (1973)
Fidget the Bat in The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

21.) Sebastian Cabot

Sebastian Cabot (1918–1977) was a British actor who is best remembered as the gentleman Giles French in the sitcom Family Affair (1966–1971). He also played several voice roles for Disney, including as Lord Ector and the Narrator in The Sword in the Stone (1963), Bagheera and the Narrator in The Jungle Book (1967), and as the Narrator in all the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the anthology movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

Lord Ector/Narrator in The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Bagheera/Narrator (right) in The Jungle Book (1967)
Narrator in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

22.) Betty Lou Gerson

Betty Lou Gerson (1914–1999) was an American radio, film, and television actress. As a voice actress for Disney, she had a small role as Narrator in Cinderella (1950), but is best remembered as the original voice of Cruella de Vil in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) for which she was named a Disney Legend in 1996.

Cruella de Vil in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

23.) Junius Matthews

Junius Matthews (1890–1978) was an American actor best known for his late-career voice acting roles in several Disney animated films, including as Scottie the Terrier in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), Archimedes the Owl in The Sword in the Stone (1963), and Rabbit in all the early Winnie the Pooh shorts and the anthology movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977).

Scottie the Terrier in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Archimedes the Owl in The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Rabbit in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

24.) Martha Wentworth

Martha Wentworth (1889–1974) was an American actress sometimes known as the “Actress of 100 Voices” for her vocal variety. As a Disney voice actor, she played the roles of Nanny, Queenie the Cow, and Lucy the Goose in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) and the Old Lady Squirrel and Madam Mim in The Sword in the Stone (1963).

Nanny in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Queenie the Cow in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Lucy the Goose (right) in One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
Old Lady Squirrel in The Sword in the Stone (1963)
Madam Mim in The Sword in the Stone (1963)

25.) Cliff Edwards

Clifton “Cliff” Edwards (1895–1971), nicknamed “Ukulele Ike”, was an American musician, singer and actor, who enjoyed considerable popularity in the 20s and 30s for his jazzy renditions of pop standards and novelty tunes. He had a number one hit with “Singin’ in the Rain” in 1929. He also did voices for Disney’s animated films, including in the roles of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio (1940) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947), and Dandy “Jim” Crow in Dumbo (1941).

Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio (1940) and Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
Dandy “Jim” Crow (RACISM alert!) in Dumbo (1941)

Honorable Mention: Roger Miller

I grew up listening to Roger Miller’s quirky country songs. He was only involved as a voice actor in one Disney movie, 1973’s Robin Hood, in which he played the role of Alan-a-Dale the Rooster (narrator). But he also wrote and sang most of the songs for the film, leaving us what I think is among the best Disney soundtracks of all-time. To me, that deserves an honorable mention.

Alan-A-Dale in Robin Hood (1973)

With that, hope you enjoyed my list folks! Here’s a YouTube video that includes clips from some of these performances:

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