Tony The Tiger Is Silent...
Thurl Ravenscroft of Fullerton, Calif., whose voice
was known worldwide through his work in movies, TV and at Disneyland, died Sunday from prostate cancer. He was 91.
Tony the Tiger?
That was Ravenscroft.
Disneyland? Too many voices to mention, but Pirates of
the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki
Room were all graced by Ravenscroft's pliable, unique voice.
Movies? How about "Cinderella," "Dumbo" and "Lady and the Tramp"?
"Disneyland wouldn't have been, and wouldn't be, the same without him," said former park President Jack Lindquist. "It's all part of the experience. You can't go home with a ride, but you can go
home with a memory, and part of that is the audio -the sound part of it. His voice was one of the things that made it all come
Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft was born Feb. 6, 1914, in Norfolk, Neb. He moved to California in 1933 to study interior design at the Otis College of Art and Design. While in school he was encouraged to go into show business andauditioned at Paramount studios to be a singer.
By the mid-1930s, he was appearing regularly on
radio, first on a program titled "Goose Creek Parson."
In the late 1930s, he appeared on the "The Kraft Music Hall" with Bing Crosby, singing backup in a group called the Paul Taylor Choristers. That group eventually became the Sportsmen Quartette.
After military service during World War II, he returned to Hollywood, later becoming involved in the Mellomen singing group, and began a career in radio, movies, television and commercials. The group could sing anything from rock `n' roll to bebop to barbershop, and it performed with a list of stars including Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
In 1952, Ravenscroft achieved a measure of immortality, thanks to a TV commercial.
"I'm the only man in the world that has made a career with one word: Grrrrreeeeat!" Ravenscroft roared in a 1996 interview with The Orange County Register. "When Kellogg's brought up the idea of the tiger, they sent me a caricature of Tony to see if I could create something for them. After messing around for some time I came up with the`Great!' roar, and that's how it's been since then."
In 1966, Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones teamed up to do "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for CBS. Ravenscroft recalled the Grinch fondly, saying, "That was my chance to prove I could really sing." The success of the Grinch led to other projects with Dr. Seuss, including "Horton Hears a Who" and "The Cat in
Thurl is one also of the busts in the Haunted Mansion. He's uncredited, as so many cast members at the park are, but it's his face and voice. It's unusual. You actually SEE him in that attraction, a man whose voice you're heard a thousand times.
Thurl A. Ravenscroft - Born Feb 6th, 1914 - Died May 22nd, 2005
For complete information about Thurl's career, All Things Thurl is recommended reading.