|Glendale, CA||April 2, 2023|
When I was growing up, the voice of the Walt Disney Company’s marquee character — Mickey Mouse — was provided by tenor Wayne Allwine. Allwine played the murine for 32 years, from 1977 until his death in 2009. He was then laid to rest outside the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Three other figures associated with Disney are buried in Allwine’s immediate proximity, including the company’s legendary namesake. The flat markers for Allwine and his spouse, Russi Taylor, are in the center of this image, each decorated with a rose.
Allwine’s Disney journey started in 1966, as a teenager working in the studio’s mail room. About three years later he moved over to the sound effects department — headed by Jimmy MacDonald, who also had been the official voice of Mickey since 1947. Allwine worked with MacDonald for seven years until the latter’s retirement in 1976. Allwine auditioned to take over vocal duties for the iconic character, and he won the part. “Just remember, kid,” Jimmy Macdonald told him early on, “you’re only filling in for the boss.” In reflection, Allwine concurred with his mentor. “Mickey is Walt’s,” he asserted. “I get to take this wonderful American icon and keep it alive until the next Mickey comes along, and it will one day.” When Allwine passed away at age 62, Mickey’s legacy was carried on by Bret Iwan, who had auditioned to be Allwine’s understudy as his health declined. The bottom left corner of Allwine’s grave says “MM3,” a reference to his chronology as the third official English-speaking voice of Mickey.
The projects Allwine voices Mickey in are too numerous to list on this page in their entirety, but the films include Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999), and Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (2004). Television audiences heard his portrayal on series like House of Mouse (2001-2003) and Mickey Mouse Club House (2006-2012), with episodes of the latter still premiering three years after Allwine’s death. His Mickey is also in the critically-acclaimed and top-selling PlayStation 2 video game Kingdom Hearts (2002), as well as its sequel (2006). For his decades of warming hearts in the role, in 2008 Allwine was enshrined as a Disney Legend in the company’s hall of fame. His non-Mickey-related accolades included a Primetime Emmy Award for sound editing on a World War II-focused episode of the Steven Spielberg series Amazing Stories. The same project earned him his first Golden Reel Award from the organization Motion Picture Sound Editors. He received his second for sound editing on Disney’s 1986 animated feature The Great Mouse Detective.
Allwine’s life seems all the more like a Disneyesque fairytale when one considers that Mickey’s companion — Minnie Mouse — was voiced by Allwine’s wife, Russi Taylor. Taylor took up the mantle of Minnie in 1986 and lent her voice to the character for 33 years, until her death in 2019. Taylor is laid to rest next to her spouse of 18 years. Her epitaph says, “I Loved My Life.” His says, “Not where I Breathe, But where I Love, I Live.”
Born: February 7, 1947 in Glendale, California
Spouse: Russi Taylor (m. 1991-2009)
Emmy Award: Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (1986)
Disney Legends: Class of 2008
Died: May 18, 2009 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death: Diabetes Complications; Hypertension
Interment: Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
"That's one of the things I've noticed over the years -- this is my 25th year doing Mickey -- is how in time you actually realize those characteristics that the character has in yourself. You know, and I've got all his naive qualities... all his optimistic qualities."
- Wayne Allwine
in a joint interview with Russi Taylor, conducted by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
D23: The Official Disney Fan Club. “Wayne Allwine.” Accessed June 27, 2023. https://d23.com/walt-disney-legend/wayne-allwine/.
IMDb. “Wayne Allwine (1947-2009). Accessed June 27, 2023. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0021656/.
Jace Diehl. “How I Became the NEW Voice of Mickey Mouse.” YouTube video, 13:11. September 8, 2022. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NSCT_ukW-8.
Sean Dudley. “A Conversation with Russi Taylor and Wayne Allwine: The Voice Behind the Mouse.” YouTube video, 23:49. August 9, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxQE5awYa8U.