What do Jodi Benson, Jim Cummings, and Patrick Warburton have in common? They’re some of the greatest individuals to lend their voices to Disney animated films!
This final portion of my list of the 25 Best Disney Animated Film Voice Artists includes an eclectic mix of actors and actresses responsible for performing the studio’s most iconic characters. If you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 first!
Look at this actress. Isn’t she neat? Wouldn’t you think she makes Ariel complete? For more than 25 years, Jodi Benson has voiced the teenager who aspires for something more and head on the shore. A Disney Legend, Benson brought humanity and purity to Ariel, who ironically does not speak for a big portion of the 1989 film. It’s a one-of-a-kind role that has defined much of Jodi Benson’s career in voice acting. She continues to provide Ariel’s voice in a variety of contexts (attractions and toys, for instance), as well as stay deeply connected with the Disney fan community. InsideTheMagic captured this video below of Jodi Benson singing the triumphant “Part of Your World” song at the opening of the Disney California Adventure ride based on The Little Mermaid.
Kronk Pepikrankenitz is not your typical henchman. The strapping lad from The Emperor’s New Groove walks around with a shoulder angel and devil. He enjoys cooking, talking with squirrels, and playing jump-rope. Poor Yzma. As the voice of the apparently dim-witted “villain,” Patrick Warburton showed to the world his impressive vocal range and humorous side. His popularity led to starring in a direct-to-video sequel, directly followed by a television series. Warburton’s infectious personality translated to the character, who despite his imposing figure, has a heart of gold.
Listen carefully to Peter Pan‘s George Darling and Captain Hook. Hear any resemblance? The supreme Hans Conried voiced both characters in the 1953 film. Conried’s physical and facial expressions became as animated as the cartoon personalities during vocal sessions. Like Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway, and his contemporaries of the early to mid-1900s, Conried could envelop your focus with his resounding voice. In many ways the best Disney voice actors are interchangeable with the characters they performed as and, despite we loving to hate Captain Hook, we have always adored Hans Conried’s magnificent work.
If a face could scream intimidation, The Hunchback of Notre Dame‘s Judge Claude Frollo would win the award of most perilous personality. Tony Jay‘s noteworthy performance as the deranged minister who imprisons Quasimodo enriched the film, considered one of Disney’s darkest animated productions. Jay conveyed menace in enunciating every word, heightened even further in singing “Hellfire,” a disturbing and controversial number that highlights Frollo’s lustful side. Tony Jay voiced several other Disney film and television characters, but as Frollo, he struck audiences with Shakespearean bravado.
ANIKA NONI ROSE
Back in 2009, The Princess and the Frog drew attention for marking a return to traditional Disney animation. Some critics may argue it did not meet lofty expectations. I disagree. Anika Noni Rose is one reason why this film sparkled. Her warmth, spunk, and determination mirror the modern Disney princesses (Belle and Ariel, of course). Rose’s brilliance came from her ability to make a likeable character on paper even more fascinating with her considerate vocal delivery. Plus, she sings most beautifully, as in “Almost There,” one of the movie’s songs nominated for an Academy Award. See her performance at the D23 Expo 2011 in the video below by InsideTheMagic.
The most wonderful thing about Paul Winchell was that he provided the “fun, fun, fun, fun, fun” in Tigger, the “bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy” figure in the Hundred Acre Wood. An entrancing character can make you smile, and complemented by a winning vocal performance, the same character can trigger you to beam. Winchell possessed that gift in voicing the terrific tiger for three decades. Tigger’s optimistic attitude, awkward pronunciation of words, and helpful disposition would only be standard attributes of a character without Winchell’s utterly joyous delivery.
No list of the best voices would be complete without Jim Cummings, the man of a million voices and best known for his work as both Pooh Bear and Tigger in the more recent Winnie the Pooh features. Succeeding both Sterling Holloway (as Pooh) and Paul Winchell was probably no easy feat, but Cummings led it to appear like a piece of cake. He can wield his voice like silly putty, in that it can morph in many alternative directions, yet stay consistent in quality and enthusiasm. Disney, isn’t it time to award this actor with a Disney Legend accolade? He meets and exceeds all the criteria, a giving and multifaceted personality who exemplifies a truly miraculous Disney voice artist.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.