Remembering Chuck McCann, the Dreamfinder
On April 8, 2018, the world lost Chuck McCann, a gifted actor and comedian whose talents delighted fans worldwide through the mediums of radio, television and film. To fans of Walt Disney World, McCann is the voice of the whimsical Dreamfinder from Epcot’s original Journey Into Imagination, reminding Guests that ,“One little spark of inspiration is at the heart of all creation.” Here’s a look back at the life and career of the man who told us that, “Imagination belongs to all of us!”
Third Generation Performer
McCann was born in 1934. From the start, his life was touched by show business. His father was the music arranger at the Roxy Theater. At the age of six, McCann began doing voice over work on the radio, making him the third generation of performers in his family.
Laurel and Hardy
At the age of 12, McCann began speaking with Stan Laurel by phone. The two developed a long distance friendship and McCann even learned to impersonate Laurel’s partner Oliver Hardy. McCann was one of five founding members of the Sons of the Desert, a group devoted to Laurel and Hardy, which has over 300,000 members.
New York Television
In the 1960s, McCann was involved in a number of local children’s shows including: he Puppet Hotel, Let’s Have Fun, The Great Bombo’s Magic Cartoon Circus, Chuck McCann’s Laurel & Hardy Show, and The Chuck McCann Show. He broke into the industry in something of a “trial by fire”. While working on “The Sandy Becker Show”, the show’s normal host went on vacation and left McCann with hosting duties for two weeks. According to McCann, Becker shouted “So long!” as he departed on the elevator and left him to fend for himself.
“The first show was disastrous,” McCann said.
Commercials and Animation
McCann provided voice and acting talent in numerous commercials and cartoons over the years. Beginning in 1962, he provided the voice for Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (the one who’s ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!’), a role he retained until 1978. In 1966, he began appearing in the Bob Kane cartoon Cool McCool, a parody of James Bond. Other notable roles include the character of Gramps in General Mills commercials, the ‘Hi Guy’ from Right Guard antiperspirant commerciants, and as the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a 1980s Dr. Pepper Commercial.
His cartoon work included providing voices for cartoons such as the Fantastic Four, the Powerpuff Girls and, dear to Disney fans everywhere, in DuckTales, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, and the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Television and Film
McCann made his film debut in 1968 as a deaf mute in the film “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”. He also acted in television programs ranging from Bonanza to Little House on the Prairie.
In March, 1983, Walt Disney World and Epcot fans were introduced to the Dreamfinder, the magical host of Journey Into Imagination and the creator of the lovable purple dragon Figment. McCann provided the voice for the Dreamfinder and sang the Sherman Brothers penned ditty, “One Little Spark”. McCann based the voice off of Frank Morgan as the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz. McCann left the project before completing all of the recordings and actor Ron Schneider, understudy to Wally Boag at the Golden Horseshoe Corale, completed the recording and performed as the meet and greet version of Dreamfinder.