Five Facts About the Career of Disney Legend Thurl Ravenscroft
The bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft echoes through the corridors of Disney history.
Named a Disney Legend in 1995, Ravenscroft worked with the company for six decades. He lent his talents to the Disney Parks, films, records, and television programs. He provided vocals in Disney classics like Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and animated shorts like Trick or Treat. At Walt Disney World, Ravenscroft’s voice can be heard as Fritz in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and as the voice of Rufus the talking buffalo in the Country Bear Jamboree. His face and voice appear in the Haunted Mansion as one of the graveyard’s singing busts and he previously provided the voice for the Walt Disney World Railroad.
Here are five facts about the life of the man behind the iconic Disney voice.
1. The Kraft Music Hall
The Kraft Music Hall was an NBC Radio program created in the 1930s as a vehicle to promote Kraft’s newest product. Both the show and the product, a mayonnaise substitute called Miracle Whip, were a hit. The program lasted from 1933-1949 and featured hosts like Paul Whiteman and Al Jolson. From 1936-1946, Bing Crosby acted as host. During this period, Ravenscroft became a regular on the show as part of the Paul Taylor Choristers. He sang backup for Crosby and guests that appeared during the two hour program.
2. Spike Jones
While performing on the Kraft Music Hall, Ravenscroft met musician and composer Spike Jones. Fans of Disney history may remember Jones as the performer who popularized “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, a satirical song about Adolf Hitler featured in the Disney short film of the same name. Jones and Ravenscroft later performed together on Jones’s record Spike Jones in Stereo. The album poked fun at the horror genre and featured vocals by Ravenscroft on the songs “Teenage Brain Surgeon” and “Spooktacular Finale”.
3. The Mellomen
Founded in 1948, the Mellomen (occasionally known as Big John and The Buzzards, The Crackerjacks, The Lee Brothers, and The Ravenscroft Quartet) were a vocal group active for over three decades. Ravenscroft’s work in films like Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp and Trick or Treat came as a member of the quartet. The group also sang alongside such show business luminaries as Doris Day, Elvis Presley, and Rosemary Clooney.
4. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
In 1966, animation legend Chuck Jones directed Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It aired on CBS and featured horror legend Boris Karloff as the voice of the Grinch. Ravenscroft provided the singing voice for the song “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch”. The original film credits did not list Ravenscroft as the performer.
5. Tony the Tiger
In 1951, the Kellogg company held a contest to find the mascot for their new breakfast cereal. The next year, Tony the Tiger debuted as the face of the brand new Frosted Flakes Cereal. Voice actor Dallas MckEnnon provided the first voice for Tony, but the company quickly replaced him with Thurl Ravenscroft. For the next five decades Ravenscroft worked on thousands of Frosted Flakes commercials delivering the iconic tag line “They’re Grrr-eat!”